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Stakeholders Hail Lowering UTME Cut-Off 

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Stakeholders in the education sector in the North-East have said that continuous lowering of Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) cut-off mark would encourage competition and educational development in the country.
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), heads of tertiary institutions of learning, and other stakeholders on July 21, adopted 140 cut-off mark for admissions in the 2022/2023 academic session.
The Board adopted 140 as the minimum cut-off mark for admission into universities and 100 for polytechnics and colleges of education, respectively.
Some of the stakehokders who spoke in Bauchi, Damaturu,  Dutse, Gombe, Maiduguri and Yola, described the move as a welcome development, saying it would provide level playing ground for candidates seeking admission into universities and other institutions.
While others dismissed it as inimical to sustainable development of tertiary education in the country.
A Lecturer in the Department of Sociology Science, University of Maiduguri, Mr Mubarak Tanko, said the lowering of the cut-off mark would not affect the Post-UTME test prepared by the institutions.
He said the institutions were allowed to set their own cut-off mark, the least score which any candidate must obtain to enable him to qualify for the Post-UTME screening.
“Institutions are not allowed to set their admission cut-off mark lower than the JAMB 140 benchmark.
”This means that no public university is allowed to set its Post-UTME admission cut-off mark lower than 140 but they have the right to set it above 140. The same applies to polytechnics and Colleges of Education.
“Competitive schools will likely set their admission mark above the minimum 140 cut-off mark, especially those with high number of applicants, they might set their cut-off mark at 200 and above,” he said.
According to him, the 140 cut-off will avail candidates who score below 200 to get admission in less competitive universities across the country.
In the same vein, Shareef Bunu, an Official of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) in Borno, said the UTME score was not the sole determinant of the placement of candidates into tertiary institutions.
He that admission is based on other parameters such as  Post-UTME, A’level qualifications, O’level grades and physical test.
“JAMB gave the institutions free hand to consider any score they deem fit for their candidates,” he said.
Bunu opined the action would give candidates with lower mark to compete favourably and eoacademic excellence.
Also, Mr Idriss Muhammad, a resident of Bauchi, commended JAMB for the gesture, saying it would enhance access to quality tertiary education in the country.
“The 100 cut-off mark for COEs is too low considering the fact that those that will be admitted were potential teachers.

“You are now sending those with very poor performance to colleges and you expect them to become teachers in the future”.

Also, Prof. Salisu Rakum, former Dean, Faculty of Education, Federal University of Kashere (FUK), said that lowering of the cut-off would have adverse effect on the education standard in the country.

He said the trend would make students less committed to their studies thereby affecting their academic performances.

“COEs as potential teacher training centres needed best and competent hands because, the future of every career is in their hands,” he said.

Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Federal University Dutse chapter, who corroborated earlier opinion said the trend would further deteriorate tertiary education in the country.

According to him, the action would produce poor quality graduates who could not compete with their contemporaries across the globe.

Lecturers, he said would find it difficult to train such students since they lack prerequisite requirement and capapacity for advance education.

He said the trend if continued unchecked would made Nigeria to be perpetually dependent on expatriates, especially in medicine, engineering and other specialise fields.

The ASUU official further identified poverty, corruption and poor standard of living, lack of computer literacy or access to ICT as some of the obstacles towards achieving good performances in the UTME.

“Such graduates will find it difficult to secure job in future because they cannot compete with those abroad,” Yusuf said.

Bashir further stressed the need for collective approach to address the root cause for students’ poor performances in the UTME to enable them get the required mark for admission in tertiary institutions of Learning.

Similarly, a lecturer at the Modibbo Adama University (MAU), Dr Mahdi Abba, Yola in Adamawa, said candidates seeking admission into universities should be subjected to academic rigour and competitive entry examinations.

On her part, Mrs Fatima Abubakar, a Lecturer, Computer Department, Federal Polytechnic Bauchi, attributed the low students’ performances in the UTME to the falling standard of basic and post-basic level of education.

She said the basic education level was comatose due to lack of qualified teachers to impart relevant knowledge and skills in their students.

She further blamed school authorities for not adhering to syllabus as well as interference of parents and guardians in ensuring prospering education and discipline of their wards.

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Fubara Promises To Maximise Youth Potentials In Rivers

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has affirmed his administration’s focus in prioritising policies that will maximise the potentials of the youths in the State.
Fubara made this declaration yesterday at the State NYSC permanent orientation camp, Nonwa-Gbam Tai, in Tai Local Government Area during the swearing-in ceremony of 2024 Batch A Stream 1 corps members deployed to Rivers State.
This was contained in a statement by the Head of Press Unit, Office of the Secretary to the State Government, Juliana Masi, yesterday.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Special Services Bureau, Office of the Secretary to the State Government, Sir Samson Friday Dede, the governor commended the NYSC Scheme for the positive impacts it is making in the nation’s quest for sustained development.
“My administration will be unwavering and fully focused in supporting the youths in maximizing their potentials”, he said.
He assured the corps members of his administration’s commitment in supporting them to achieve the mandate of uniting and integrating to the nation.
The governor further admonished corps members to take full advantage of the camp programmes and activities to equip themselves to contribute to nation building.
Earlier, Coordinator, NYSC, Rivers State, Mr. George Mfongang, had urged the corps members to be in the forefront of the nation’s development by being hard working, disciplined and morally sound.
He commended them for being passionate and enthusiastic in imbibing the lessons of the orientation exercise.
The Coordinator thanked Governor Fubara for his unflinching commitment in ensuring the security and welfare of corps members in the State especially, the payment of State allowance to them.
A total of 1,585 Corps members made up of 819 males and 766 females took the oath of allegiance at the ceremony that was administered by Justice Ibiwengi Roseline Minakiri.

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FG, Cement Manufacturers Agree On N7,000, N8,000 For 50kg Per Bag

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The Federal Government and cement manufacturers have agreed on a N7,000 to N8,000 per 50 kg bag price of cement to halt the astronomical rise in the price of the product.
This agreement was part of a deal struck after several hours of meeting held behind closed doors at the headquarters of the Ministry of Works, between the Federal Government and cement manufacturers , in Abuja, yesterday.
The manufacturers agreed to sell a 50kg bag of cement at a retail price between N7,000 and N8,000, depending on location nationwide.
They, however put a caveat that the price drop from the current market price would largely depend on government fulfilling its promised interventions in certain areas of concern to ameliorate critical challenges faced in the industry.
Retail price for cement jumped from N5,000 to N10,000 within one week in the open market, after wholesalers, citing increasing cost of transportation and other variables, made adjustments to the price they sell to retailers.
Retailers in turn transferred the additional cost burden to consumers to stay afloat.
This prompted President Bola Tinubu to order the Ministers of Works, David Umahi and his Trade and Investment counterpart, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite. to meet with cement manufacturers to find a solution to the crisis.
Umahi had, while calling for the meeting, expressed the Federal Government’s concern over the development, adding that if the situation wasn’t brought under control, it had the potential of hurting the prosperity agenda of the current administration.
After the meeting, Umahi read out a communique in which he mentioned concerns raised by the manufacturers.
These concerns include: bad roads, smuggling, high cost of energy, and the Forex crisis. This according to the manufacturers were the primary reasons behind the price hike.
He also said the manufacturers which include Dangote Cement PLC, BUA Cement PLC, Larfarge Africa PLC and Cement Producers Association, expressed willingness to reduce the prices going forward.
Representatives of the Federal Government include the Minister of Works and his counterpart in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
While reading the communique, Umahi said: “The meeting noted the challenges of the manufacturers like: cost of gas; high import duty on spare parts; bad road network; high foreign exchange; and smuggling of cement to neighbouring nations.
“The government noted the challenges and reacted as follows: Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment to seek some remedies from Mr. President on cost of gas and import duties.”

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We Are Hungry, Dying, Ibadan Protesters Tell Tinubu

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Thousands of people, on Monday, thronged the major streets of Ibadan in Oyo State, to protest the hardship in the country.
The protesters, who are mainly youths, kept saying they were not out to cause trouble, but to call the attention of all the tiers of governments to the unbearable hardship in the country.
Though they did not use any objects to block the roads, they converged on accesses leading to the University College Hospital, UCH, Ibadan, Sango, Dugbe and Eleyele, thereby blocking vehicular traffic.
They displayed several placards with inscriptions such as ‘Give us good health, End bad governance, End food hike, Open border, End hardship, ‘Is this the renewed hope you promised?’
At intervals, organisers of the protest kept updating the security agents who kept vigilance to arrest anyone who caused problem or hijacked the protest for selfish ends.
During the protest, some schools and banks shut their gates.
The Tide learnt that the protest was convened through the social media.
One of the messages sent by the conveners read, “People should not pass through Mokola roundabout because there will be protest on Monday”.
The message advised that motorists should take alternative routes to their destinations.
A lady who refused to disclose her name, caught the attention of many people with a placard that read: ‘Sanitary pad now costs N4,000; we can’t be using cloth, Please, help us’. Nothing should happen to me. All I’m asking for is my legitimate earning and ease of life.’
Another woman, who identified herself as Mobolaji Inaolaji, one of the coordinators, said: “We want to tell our leaders that things are not right, they should make things easier for us. We are not here to cause violence, things are too costly and people are dying.
“It is our right to protest whether we got permit or not. We have told the security agents that they should arrest whoever causes problem. We are peaceful and law abiding. All we want is to make government know our pains. We will go through most parts of the city.”
Other protesters who were speaking with anger, said: “This problem is too much. Whoever wants to arrest me should come and do so. If we don’t die outside, we’ll die at home.”
After about an hour at Mokola, the protesters headed towards Sango and other parts of the city.

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