The Acting Registrar, National Examination Council, Abubakar Gana, has attibuted the drop in the number of candidates in the 2019 Common Entrance Examination into Federal Government schools to lack of sponsorship by some politicians.
Gana made the assertion on Saturday in Abuja during the monitoring of the examination in some of the centres.
According to him, politicians who traditionally sponsor candidates for the examination were unable to do so because of their commitments in the just concluded general elections.
He said that over 80,000 candidates registered for the examination in 2018 while 75, 635 registered for the 2019 National Common Entrance Examination.
He said: “We registered 75, 635 as at yesterday, which is a drop in number in 2018.
“The number dropped because of the politics in the country. The politicians that are used to bankrolling candidates for this exams were busy in the field so it affected the number.
“Most of these candidates in the Northern states are assisted by politicians.”
Gana added that the low registration had also prompted the earlier shift in the examination date from April 13 to April 27 to give opportunity for more people to register.
The acting NECO Registrar said the state with the least number of registered candidates was Zamfara with 59 while other Northern states with low registration figures had before the examination date increased by 100 per cent compared to 2018.
He said that Lagos state had the highest number with over 23, 000 candidates.
He said: “Apart from Zamfara state, all the states of the federation recorded significant number of registered candidates.
“The seven states that had very low registration figures leading to the earlier postponement of the examination all recorded significant increase in the number of registered candidates between the earlier date and today.”
He explained that the number of candidates to be admitted would be based on the carrying capacity which would be handled by the ministry of education.
Gana said that the result of the examination would be out on May 1, and admission would be based on 60 per cent for merit and 40 per cent for quota and others.
Commenting on security arrangements for the examination, the NECO acting Registrar said that the exercise was conducted with heavy presence of police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps personnel at each of the centres, particularly in the volatile areas.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said the ministry was ready to increase the carrying capacity of admission into unity school to 25,000.
Adamu, who was represented by Sonny Echono, Permanent Secretary of the ministry, said government had taken steps to ensure that adequate infrastructure were put in place to enhance effective learning in the schools.
He added that the government had increased the number of spaces to admit more students in the 2019 academic session.
He said: “We have a problem of access to education in this country, so as part of our interventions to ensure we bring more children into the Schools thereby reduce the number of kids who are out of school, we are having so many programmes.
“One of this is to increase the spaces available in our unity colleges and each time we do this there are other consequential interventions that are needed.
“You need to have additional classrooms and additional teachers for this purpose.”
He commended the president for graciously approving the rehabilitation of many of the colleges.
Adamu said that government had provided new classrooms, libraries as well as rehabilitated the dilapidated ones and had embarked on recruitment of additional teachers for the schools.
According to him, the regularisation of PTA teachers and new recruitment of teachers into the unity Schools was ongoing at the Federal Civil Service Commission.
He advised parents of candidates who took the examination to begin to check the status of their admission online at www.neco.gov.ng as soon as the results are released on May 1.
Also, the Chairman of the NECO Governing Board, Dr Abubakar Saddiq, said the Federal Government was serious about developing schools and ensure that they have good teachers, laboratories and that teachers are properly catered for in the Unity Schools.
Saddiq urged the education minister to address the challenges in unity schools and strengthen it to foster national integration.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that pupils were seen conducting themselves appropriately at the Government Secondary School, Wuse II and Model Secondary School, Maitama during the monitoring.
Mathematics, Basic science, English language, social studies, verbal reasoning and aptitude test were the subjects taken by the candidates.