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I’m not happy with you People, Stop giving Northern students lower cut-off marks – El-Rufai tells JAMB



Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, has urged the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board to stop giving “preferential scores” to students in Northern Nigeria who sit for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination.

He stated this on Monday as a guest on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ breakfast programme monitored by The PUNCH.

According to the governor, students in the North should not be given lower cut-off marks but the same cut-off marks as their counterparts from other parts of the country for them to be competitive nationally and internationally.

Established in 1978, JAMB is the government agency saddled with the responsibility “to conduct matriculation examinations for entry into all universities polytechnics and colleges of education in the country and to place suitably qualified candidates in the available places in these institutions”.

READ ALSO: Scholarship: I felt peace on arrival in US, knowing there won’t be banditry, kidnapping – Nworie, first-class UNN graduate who got PhD

Before now, JAMB set cut-off marks across the country but the Board recently cancelled general cut-off marks for admission into tertiary institutions for the 2021/2022 academic session and gave institutions the freedom to set their individual minimum benchmark for admission.

El-Rufai also said the current closure of schools in the state was the major goal of bandits and terrorists oppressing the state but he vowed that they won’t win.

He said, “The north has always been behind in education, we’ve continuously been the disadvantaged region right from independence even though we’re given preferences, JAMB scores and all that. That has not helped, in fact, it has made our people lazy.

“Against this differential JAMB and FG (Federal Government) scores, I think people should be encouraged to work hard and compete and we are prepared to make our children in Kaduna State to be competitive, not only in the state but globally.

“The schools are closed now because, on the advice of security agencies, they need a couple of months to undertake massive security operations. They are doing that. We are confident that from the next two weeks, we would start the gradual reopening of schools.

“We have moved many of our students in rural areas that we are not sure we can protect to urban schools, thereby increasing the congestion in urban schools that we can protect.”

“The continuous closure of schools is exactly what bandits and Boko Haram want and we are not going to let them win but we must put the safety of our children and teachers first,” the governor noted, adding that the gradual reopening of schools would commence soon.

‘Kaduna has attracted $3bn investments despite banditry’

Furthermore, the governor said that the state has attracted over $3bn foreign and local investments in the last two years despite the menace of banditry.

According to him, the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies are overwhelmed, hence, the need to train hundreds of vigilantes who will bear arms and confront the marauders who operate from the forests of Kaduna.

“This banditry is essentially a rural phenomenon but it has moved to the urban areas,” the governor lamented.

He said that when the menace of banditry started in the state about three years ago, “it was essentially a rural phenomenon and that has not affected our ability to attract investments in the state”.

“In the last two years, we’ve attracted more than $2bn, close to $3bn of foreign and domestic investments into the state.

“We’ve also engaged in massive infrastructure across the state, everywhere,” el-Rufai explained.

525 killed, 1,723 kidnapped in six months

Kaduna has perhaps been the worst hit by the nefarious activities of bandits and kidnappers in recent times in spite of the heavy presence of military formations and institutions present in the state.

The military has no fewer than six military formations in the city. The military formations include Jaji Military Cantonment; 1 Mech. Division Headquarters, Nigerian Army, Kaduna; New Barracks, otherwise known as ‘Kotoko’ Barracks; Old Site of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna; Kalanpazi Barracks (Artillery Regiment) and the Nigerian Air Force Base.

But according to the official statistics by Governor Nasir El-Rufai administration, the vicious marauders killed at least 525 innocent lives, kidnapped 1,723 between January and June 2021.

Serial abductions

On July 24, marauders invaded the country’s foremost military institution, the Nigerian Defence Academy, Afaka, Kaduna, killing two officers and abducting one.

The NDA campus is opposite the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka where bandits abducted 39 students on March 11, 2021. The bandits had demanded N500m to free the captives.

On April 20, 2021, bandits had also kidnapped at least 23 students of Greenfield University and a member of staff.

On July 5, 2021, around 2am, bandits stormed Bethel Baptist School, Damishi, Kaduna, and abducted 121 pupils, according to the Proprietor of the school, Rev. Ishaya Jangado.

In some cases, bandits released some of the students after their parents parted with millions of naira as ransom but a few students haven’t been lucky to make it out alive.

The situation has dealt a terrible blow on education in the state as over 5,000 schools in Kaduna remain shut following the ongoing military operations to flush out bandits from the state.

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Scholarship: I felt peace on arrival in US, knowing there won’t be banditry, kidnapping – Nworie, first-class UNN graduate who got PhD




Nworie Emmanuel

Nworie Emmanuel, a first-class Mathematics graduate of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, who received a scholarship for a PhD programme in the United States of America months after his interview with Saturday PUNCH in November, 2020, shares his experience with ALEXANDER OKERE

Is it true you received a scholarship for a PhD in the US?

It is a scholarship because I was offered admission for a PhD programme with a teaching assistantship position. The school is Southern Methodist University, a prominent school in Dallas, Texas, and the course is Computational and Applied Mathematics.

It’s normal for a graduate to obtain a master’s degree before proceeding for a PhD. Why did they offer you a doctoral degree programme instead?

Yes, most schools I know in the United States accept students for a PhD directly from a BSc but the difference is that the student spends five years for the programme.

READ ALSO: Lele Sadoughi Biography, Wiki, Career, And More

The first two years for an MSc and the last three for the PhD. So, the student won’t have to make any applications after their MSc, seeking admission for a PhD.

What is Computational and Applied Mathematics all about?

Computational and Applied Mathematics is basically the use of computers for mathematical computations, the study of what can (and cannot) be computerised in mathematics. It focuses on the application of a broad range of mathematical and computational methods to modelling, analysis, algorithm development, and simulation for the solution of complex scientific and engineering problems.

Can you explain how you got the scholarship and the process you went through?

To get admitted to most schools in the United States, one needs to show their level of proficiency in English and so, they are expected to provide a proof of that by taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language or International English Language Testing System. However, to beat off challenges from other students, someone applying for certain courses needs to take an extra exam called the Graduate Records Examination. These things I did. I applied to the over 12 schools with the help of Dr Michael Taiwo (the man who hosts the MTScholarship that covered my test fees and application fees) and a mentor, Dr Busayo Aworunse, and submitted all the required documents, including the test scores and personal statement, not forgetting the letters of recommendation. The schools that felt I was fit for their programme accepted me and I chose the best among them.

Having achieved this a few months after your interview went viral, how did you feel when the scholarship was announced to you?

Anyone given an opportunity to do what they enjoy doing would surely be happy. I was glad, especially because I had the option of choosing from a number of offers.

Well, sometimes when I look at the Nigerian media and their reportage, I cry because some don’t get to write exactly what happened but what they feel people need to hear. This is where I feel The PUNCH is different. My first interview published in PUNCH newspaper shows they are different and I commend them for that.

How did your mum react to the news of the scholarship?

She didn’t really understand it the first time, she thought it was the Nigerian thing and was like, ‘I hope they won’t give it to another person before you get there’. Well, she understands better now; that’s what is important.

It’s probably your first time in the US. What was the first thing that came to your mind when you arrived?

Immediately I arrived at the airport, I felt peace. Though with high expectations from the United States, I knew one thing: there won’t be banditry here; no herders, killing, no Boko Haram, no kidnapping – having to know you can walk on the streets and you are not scared at all times and a lot more.

How did the university receive you?

There is a difference here (US). I am admitted to a school; the only thing the school owes me is my classes and the stipend from my teaching duties. It is not their duty to pick me up at the airport. They have a lot of international students they admitted so, I wonder how many people they will be picking up at different times. However, Dr Michael Taiwo had ab initio planned for where I would stay and get used to the United States before the commencement of classes. Meanwhile, on my first visit to the school, I was well-accepted by the graduate students advisor for Mathematics.

As a graduate student, one would have to make plans before their travels about their accommodation. The school doesn’t give free accommodation. In cases where the school provides accommodation, it is usually for a fee, sometimes, relatively higher than the cost of living outside the university campus.

What is your target now, as a PhD student in the US?

Target? Well, I am here to study for a PhD. So, my target is to graduate with a PhD in due time.

Was it your dream to study abroad or did you just hope you would get a teaching job in a university in Nigeria after an MSc?

Teaching is a hobby to me. I hoped to get a teaching job but studying abroad was never out of the picture, especially because, problem-solving is a hobby too. Studying abroad would equip me with hands-on training to solve problems in other sectors of the economy.

Have you started teaching?

No. My teaching duties will start on the 23rd of August 2021.

How are you coping with the type of food there, considering you’re not used to the American cuisine?

I’ve tried out a lot of their food and they are not too bad.

COVID-19 is still a problem globally. Did you get tested in Nigeria and the US or given a vaccine before you were allowed to fly or enter the university?

I was tested in Nigeria before I was allowed to fly. Also, taking the vaccine is a requirement to participate in the offline classes.


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