Exactly One year after assuming office as Registrar and Chief Executive of the National Examinations Council, NECO, Prof Dantani Wushishi has reeled out his scorecard, stating that the council, under him, has witnessed a facelift in all its offices nationwide.
Wushishi, who spoke in Minna, Niger State, at a press briefing to mark his one year in office, said when he assumed office on 26th July 2021, he was disappointed at the state of decay at the NECO headquarters and state offices, prompting him to undertake reforms that ensured availability of facilities in its offices across the country.
The NECO boss noted that he quickly swung into action to correct the anomaly after undertaking a critical assessment of the activities of NECO and initiated policies that have brought about a positive turnaround of the council.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Wushishi Registrar of NECO on July 12, 2021 following the sudden death of its former Registrar, Prof Godswill Obioma.
While giving a breakdown of his achievements during his one-year stint, the NECO registrar said he vigorously pursued the removal of NECO among MDAs that remit 25 per cent automatic direct deductions to the Federal Government Consolidated Revenue Fund, CRF, which stifled the council of fund to carry out its mandate, adding that the Federal Government removed NECO and stopped the deductions in June 2022.
He said in accord with NECO’s Governing Board, under the leadership of Dr Abubakar Siddique, the Six Zonal Offices of the council located in the North-East; North-West; North-Central; South-East; South-South; and the South-West were all upgraded to Directorates with a Director appointed to superintend over each of them.
According to him, the upgrade of the Zonal Offices to Directorates has given birth to the change in nomenclature of leadership at the State and FCT Offices, which before now were addressed as State and FCT Officers, but the new nomenclature defines them as State and FCT Co-ordinators.
He further noted that “the Council’s Headquarters in Minna, which hitherto was like a dungeon, is now a sight to behold at night, as it is now well lit. The same face lift applies to NECO Warehouse and the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Department,” adding that “This was also extended to Niger State NECO Office, in addition to a brand new 500 KVA transformer in both ICT Department and the Niger State Office to address their problem of lack of electricity which has been on since 2017.”
Speaking on the welfare of NECO staff, Wushishi, wo described himself as a comrade professor, said in agreement with the Governing Board, he got approval for two crucial welfare packages for staff of the council, including retirement benefit package which took effect from January 2022 and an Insurance policy for all staff which took off the same date.
“The benefits of both welfare packages are legion, considering the delays in accessing pension and gratuity upon retirement from service and the risks and hazards associated with NECO work,” he said.
He further disclosed that office furniture, computers, Scanners and photocopiers were procured for the smooth running of the council’s business in all its 36 state offices and the FCT and to ensure a conducive working environment which he noted is a veritable incentive that contributes in no small measure to the output of workers.
“Procurement of photocopying machines for all the 36 States, Zonal Office, FCT and Two NECO Office in Malabo, Republic of Guinea and Togo to service other three (3) countries writing NECO examinations.
“Purchase of e-Grenary data base to access e-resources by subject officers of NECO in all knowledge-based disciplines for easy development of examinations items for NECO examinations. This will serve the Headquarters, Niger State Office, ICT Department and the Staff School.
“An upgrade of the bandwidth of 20mph recently installed for internet services to 50 mph because it was found to be inadequate to service the staff effectively and efficiently,” he said.
Wushishi said in response to the realities of the 21st century where technology is key, he has caused the provision of internet facility at the headquarters and a massive mast has been installed pursuant to making internet facilities easily accessible in the council, assuring that this would soon be extended to all the state offices across the country.
He noted that poised to make NECO a breakfast delight to most families, he undertook advocacy visits to the government and people of Ebonyi, Cross River and Borno States.
“In Ebonyi and Cross River States, the Registrar/CE sought and got approval from the Governors of the States for NECO conducted examinations to be made compulsory in all public schools while similar response is being awaited from Borno State.
“These advocacy visits which are on-going, when completed, would no doubt reposition the Council as the foremost examination body in the Country. The erudite Scholar is determined to tackle the challenges as they unfold, even as he has demonstrated sagacity and resilience not to be deterred by the enormity of the task ahead of him,” he said.
He noted that under his leadership, the council has also successful conducted and timely released the 2021 SSCE internal as well as external results and successful pursued and secured intervention fund from the Federal Government to settle examiners, supervisors and other ad-hoc staff that participated in the 2021 SSCE Internal examination.
Other achievements include: “Development of an ICT software to enhance and ensure fairness in posting of staff for assignments, this has brought about relative calm and peace in the Council, as there is nothing like favouritism in posting for assignment any longer.
“Provision of basic facilities such as toilets at the premises of the Department of ICT. Before now, Staff in the Department visit nearby bushes to ease themselves when pressed.
“Institution of reward system for staff who distinguish themselves in the discharge of their responsibilities; and “Provision of e-library to enhance access to information and data on educational assessment with a view to enhancing job efficiency in Test Development, Quality Assurance and curbing examination malpractice and other infractions associated with public examinations.
“Introduced the use of stanine software in determining Grade Boundaries for BECE, SSCE Internal and SSCE External examinations which is an innovation in the history of NECO. This brings to rest the use of manual method in determining grade boundaries.