Abuja- No fewer than 86,000 candidates participated in the National Common Entrance Examination on Saturday, the Minister of Education, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, has said.
Observing the conduct of the examination at the Government Secondary School, Wuse Zone 3 in Abuja, Shekarau said that Lagos State had the highest number of candidates.
Represented by Dr Mac-John Nwaobiala, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, the minister said: “The total number for the 36 states for this year is more than 86,000 and when you break it down, you will see that Lagos State has the greatest number.
“Lagos presented close to 25,000 candidates while in a state like Borno, we have very low registration.
“The total number of centres across the nation is 420; the spread is deliberate so that you do not have congestions.
“Our carrying capacity for the 104 unity schools is 26,000; so if you look at 26,000 and look at 86,000, you can see the difference,’’ he said.
Shekarau said that the government had made a lot of efforts to improve on access and quality, adding that private schools had been encouraged to absorb some of the students.
He expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the examination, adding that adequate security arrangements were made to ensure a peaceful exercise, especially in the volatile states.
According to him, adequate arrangements have been made to ensure that the candidates in risk areas are taken to safe centres where they can write the examination.
“We made adequate security arrangements, particularly in states like Adamawa, Borno, Yobe and few other states,’’ he said.
He said that the centre at Wuse had a well-organised sitting arrangement and that the candidates were relaxed.
“I have interacted with some of them; they are familiar with what they are suppose to do in terms of shedding.
“We have observed also that there are enough invigilators and supervisors from NECO,’’ he said.
On his part, the Registrar of NECO, Prof. Monday Joshua, said all logistics arrangements to ensure seamless conduct of the examination were in place.
Joshua said the examination ought to have taken place but for the shift in the general elections which necessitated the shift in the date for its conduct.
“Our men on ground in states where elections are being held have been interacting with the police and INEC and they have extracted promises of support and cooperation.
“In a place like Abia, where we discovered that six of our centres were also going to serve as polling stations, we instructed our staff to secure alternative centres.
“Every centre in Abia, Taraba and Imo are properly secured; the candidates and their parents can move around with their tags,’’ he said.
According to him, the result of the examination will be likely released by April 29.
The NECO boss said the computer based test had become a global trend which the examination body was also considering for its examinations. (NAN)