Bayelsa State Government says there is nothing wrong in intending beneficiaries of the scholarship scheme of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) sitting for the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination.
The state government said the new policy would among other things halt the massive racketeering of the scholarship programme and create room for only the most qualified candidates to gain admission into tertiary institutions.
PAP Interim Administrator, Colonel Milland Dixion Dikio (rtd), recently explained that the new policy was to discourage the selling of scholarship slots and encourage excellence.
According to him, the policy is also to ensure that beneficiaries of the scholarship are able to compete for placement in the best universities and primed to be major players in the knowledge- based world.
Dikio had said, “Our intention is to align with best practices for university admission, give scholarships to those who have a high potential to graduate, remove favoritism and money for sponsorship racket”.
Senior Special Assistant to Governor Douye Diri on PAP, Hon. Alaowei Opukeme, said in a statement in Yenagoa, on Wednesday, that those opposed to writing the JAMB examination have not advanced any reason sufficient enough for human comprehension.
He described the anti-JAMB campaigners as mediocres, who want to benefit from a scheme they truly don’t deserve, urging Dikio to ignore them as their rantings will only end up in the dustbin of disgruntled wailers.
Opukeme noted that the government decided to openly support the new policy because of the growing agitation by those who are quick to condemn every new policy, simply because of sentiments or their own shortcomings.
He added that the government would carry out a rigorous campaign on the issue to further enlighten the prospective beneficiaries of the PAP scholarship to see the new policy as a welcome development aimed at providing more employable graduates from the Niger Delta region.
“We have read with dismay some comments against the decision of the amnesty office for its scholarship beneficiaries to sit for JAMB exam. Some of the comments are based on an uninformed point of view, while others are out of sentiments and we are not too comfortable with that.
“As a government, we want to make it loud and clear that on the basis of that issue, we are throwing our weight behind the new policy by Colonel Milland Dikio and want to also align ourselves with his honest remark that 80% of the current recipients of PAP scholarship are not ex-agitators. This is sad!
“Like Dikio said recently, our universities are turning out an army of unskilled unemployable adults into the labour market. We must not encourage that, else in few years to come, we will notice how messed up our society will become.
“The Bayelsa State Government will soon undertake a massive engagement with our youths on this issue. They need to understand that everyone must not go to the university. Those who cannot go to the university can be given vocational training. We have a lot of people who never went to the university but are today major employers of labour”.
He maintained that the Amnesty Programme has been dogged by controversies and monumental corruption by those who are civil servants “by day and contractors by night,” pointing out that if Dikio has come to do the right thing, then he should be encouraged.
He added, “We have seen the steps that the Interim Administrator has taken so far. We applaud his courage. When you block some loopholes, you will have more money to work for the people. Let us remind him that at moments like this he will remain unpopular, but should never be distracted.
“So long as he is doing the right thing, we will support him. We insist that JAMB exam is not a big deal. There are many ways to gain admission into the university and one is through JAMB. Those who don’t want to write JAMB should go through pre-degree programmes, or apply for part-time. Other than that, you must subject yourself to JAMB or go and learn a trade or vocation.”