19 states owe cash-strapped WAEC N4b
Council may withhold affected candidates’ results
WITH a hefty debt burden that has left the cash-trapped West African Examinations Council (WAEC) almost comatose, the body has urged debtor-states to defray their over N4 billion indebtedness pronto or have their candidates’ May/June 2015 WASSCE results withheld. Late last year, the Head of Nigerian National Office (HNO), Mr. Charles Eguridu, had told The Guardian that about 10 states owed the organisation about N3 billion, which has forced the agency to resort to bank loans for some of its basic functions.
At a point, all the debtor-states were owing WAEC about N3 billion,” he disclosed. “As an organisation, we need money to function but because of the indebtedness, we have to take bank loans to pay the examiners to mark the papers, as paying our workers was becoming a problem.
When we take loans from banks, we have to pay the interest that accrues because the papers must be marked and we can’t tell Nigerians that we could not mark papers because state governments are owing us. They will see us as irresponsible. “So we want to fulfill our obligations first to Nigerians and then sort ourselves out with the states later.”
Rather than sort itself out with the debtor-states, however, the regional examination body appears to be plunging deeper into financial distress as the latest cry indicates. Speaking yesterday at their Lagos office, Eguridu revealed that many states, as part of their education policies, pay registration fees for their candidates, particularly those in public schools.
This, he said, forms the bulk of the debt. Though he declined to name the debtor-states, he regretted that the gesture, which has over the years relieved many parents of financial burden and afforded many indigent students the opportunity to sit the council’s examinations, has come at a price to the body.
According to him, “19 states are owing the council entry fees for state government-sponsored candidates for the May/June 2015 WASSCE. Some states still owe registration fees for the May/June 2014 WASSCE. As I speak to you, we are cash-strapped as a result of the delay in offsetting the debt. “We are finding it difficult to meet our financial obligations, particularly to our supervisors, examiners and service providers.
We have written to the affected states, but no response, and this is threatening the smooth operations of the council. “Therefore, we want to publicly plead that they offset the bills as soon as possible as we cannot guarantee that the results of their candidates for the May/June 2015 WASSCE will be released along with others.” Eguridu lamented further: “WAEC is still owing a number of supervisors.
Our supervisors are Nigerians serving their fatherland and a number of them made sacrifices to ensure that the examinations were conducted hitch-free and papers properly marked. This is because we have a team of patriotic and willing examiners.”
He explained that states were still enjoying credit facilities in spite of their unimpressive financial track records because “we are an examining board, not a profit-making organization, and our service is to humanity, to our fatherland. “When states request to be granted this facility, the least we are expected to do is to say no.
We allowed them because over the years, it has been the practice for state-sponsored candidates to be registered on credit and the states usually met their financial obligation to WAEC.” Nevertheless, Eguridu would rather not disclose the debtor-states because “we just had an election and new governors have just been sworn in. We will not be fair to the debtor-states if I start listing them.
We wrote to affected governors over six weeks ago and only one has responded. “I believe our political leaders are very concerned about the plight of their candidates.
So, I crave your indulgence to withhold the names of the states involved until the results are about being released. In two weeks time, when we will be releasing results, we would be able to give you the names of the states whose results have not been released because they are indebted to WEAC.”