How we are repositioning NECO - Uwakwe
Prof. Charles Uwakwe is the Registrar of the National Examination Council, NECO. In this interview with some journalists in Abuja, he spoke on the numerous achievements recorded under his leadership and the target set by the council to remit N1.2 billion to the federation account by December 2018. He also spoke on other sundry issues. Our correspondent, Austine ELEMUE, was there. Excerpts:
On his achievements since assuming duty in NECO.
We have done a lot of self-assessment and searching as we provide this services. I'm in touch with all my state officers and zonal coordinators regularly and consistently. I do a lot of frequent travels but the best is on the spot assessment of the situation to the best of our ability.
So, essentially, it has been very rewarding if you consider the number of examinations we take within the limit of our resources because it is on us. We have a mandate to do this therefore, we should be managing the resources that we have very prudently and there is also a bit of pressure on us to be remitting to federation account which we are very cognizant of. We are making efforts to ensure that we continue to improve in that respect and therefore prudent management of resources that we have must be our guiding principle.
Before I came to NECO the issue of ethics weren't there. That of professionalism, punctuality, zero tolerance for impunity, integrity and so on. These are ethics that I brought on board when I assumed office.
Like I said, I travel frequently to see my staff. I don't just stay in the headquarters I go out to see them so that I have on the spot assessment of what the challenges are and deal with issues as they come. And ensure that they are able to provide the best quality of service.
So, essentially these ethics are what we brought on board to be able to run the system better and by my assessment it is really better.
On N15 billion fraud allegation.
Just like you said, these are rumors that are baseless and I'm wondering where the allegations are coming from. To set the record straight, we are not running independently in terms of our budgeting. We are under strict guidance by the ministry and National Assembly. Every year we provide information as to what we generate and what our expenditure is. We go to defend all those and therefore if somebody says fifty naira is missing as a Chief Executive laying emphasis on prudent management and zero tolerance for impunity, there is no way that anybody can associate me with such frivolous expenditure. It is practically impossible and totally fallacious.
The number of candidates who sat for our exams and how much we make is in the public domain. In conducting our exams, we pay apprentice, people in the community to conduct the exams. We have four exams that we conduct. It is professionally and unacceptable for someone to insinuate that there is embezzlement of funds without facts.
As the chief executive I have been given an important responsibility to run our indigenous assessment organization and I'm well guided by this ethics, of prudent management of resources. The books are there, the records are there.
We just returned from the defense of our budget in the National Assembly and they have said there is need for us to increase our remittance to the federation account which we have been working on.
We have improved from N320 million to more than N500 million. We estimate that by next exam we should be able to remit to the federation account about N1.2 billion. And it is appropriate for us to do that. People should come to the council for clarification when they have doubts. It is unacceptable because they peddle rumors to the detriment of the council.
On illegal recruitment in NECO.
They have never been illegal recruitment by the council. All that we have done by way of replacement we have followed due process with clearance from both the Ministry of Education, Federal Character Commission and Head of Service. We have documented evidence of waivers and approval.
On internal crisis in the council.
The issues are with some union members. I have an open door policy and I relate well with unions. But for some strange reasons a few of them have overstepped their bounds making communication directly to the ministry without consulting with the council.
Rather than settling union issues internally they have written all kinds of petitions that can be addressed internally. All those are not necessary. What we are saying is that they should not run a parallel government because they belong to a union. I have privileged information on my staff that guides my decisions on posting. The best approach is to work with the council.
Illegal sale of guest house.
The issue started in 2007 long before I came to NECO and it came to my attention when I assumed duty as CEO of NECO and I set up an administrative panel to look into the issue and the officer directly involved is on interdiction as we speak. And the EFCC got involved and I sent a report of the panel which I set up to the EFCC which was impossible before I took up the matter.
So the issue is with the relevant authority and we are awaiting feedback from the EFCC.
On allegation of private university set up by NECO's Director of Finance and Account.
He is no longer in the service of the council. He has been disengaged since April 2017. The matter can be addressed to him.