Written by Godfrey AKON

NECO procures 8,000 biometric machines, eliminates scratch cards

The National Examinations Council, NECO, has procured 8,000 units of biometric capturing machines to fight off identity theft and other irregularities during its Senior School Certificate Examination, SSCE.

The council also procured 20 Hilux vans in an effort to speed up the distribution and delivery of its examination materials, and address other logistic problems getting in the way of delivering on its mandate.

While commissioning the vehicles and machines in Minna, Niger State, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Arch Sonny Echono, stressed that the biometric capturing machines were essential to ensure the credibility of NECO exams.

Represented by the Director of Human Resources, Ministry of Education, Dr Auwal Koko, Echono urged the management of NECO to ensure that the 20 Pickup vans are well maintained and utilised for the benefit of the nation and humanity.

Our correspondent gathered that the 8,000 biometric capturing machines were procured at the rate of N500 million while the 20 Toyota Hilux vans were procured at 327,800,000.

The procurements come on the heels of a recent directive by the Federal Government to all agencies conducting public examinations to clean up their registration process to restore credibility in the exercise.

Meanwhile, the Chairman Governing Board of NECO, Dr Abubakar Sadiq, has announced that the exam body has eliminated the use of scratch cards and adopted pin vending to check the activities of fraudsters who may take advantage of the system to defraud.

Sadiq lamented that impersonation has become a major problem to public examination in Nigeria, while assuring that the biometric capturing machines would reduce incidents of identity theft up to 90 or 95 per cent.

On whether the 8,000 biometric capturing machines can serve the 10 thousand NECO centres across the country, he said one machine can be used in two schools to verify candidates at registration and before they commence any SSCE exams.

He assured that with the purchase of 20 new Hilux vans, examination materials would arrive their destination on time and eliminate arbitrary postponement of the examination, stressing that the last time government procured vehicles for NECO was in 2013.

Sadiq also noted that although NECO has the capacity to adopt the Computer Based Test, CBT, method like the Joint Admissions and Matriculation board, the council will continue with the paper pencil method for the time being.

Also speaking, the Acting Registrar, Mr Abubakar Gana, said the biometric verification machines and the 20 Toyota Hilux vans were procured late last year with full approval from the Governing Board of NECO and the Bureau for Public Procurement, BPP.

Gana, who also spoke on the industrial harmony in the agency, said the peaceful atmosphere was the result of giving every staff what is due to him.

He said NECO has saved well over N2 billion through its prudent management of funds, adding that the agency will save even more in the future as it has fully integrated its transactions into the Treasury Single Account, TSA.

He noted that leakages were being blocked and reduced to the barest minimum at the agency even as the exam body is ensuring prudent management and utilisation of the nation’s scarce resources.

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