The National Examinations Council (NECO) was established in April 1999 by the Federal Government, in line with the decisions reached at the 49th meeting of the National Council on Education (NCE) held in Abeokuta in March 1999.
The establishment was to respond to the public outcry against the ever-increasing problems (leakage of question papers) associated with the conduct of public examinations in the country.
Although, it was established in 1999, the enabling act of the agency was passed and signed into law in 2002.
This law made NECO as the only indigenous public examination body in Nigeria charged with the onerous task of conducting the school-based (June/July) and external candidates (November/December) Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE).
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Similarly, it conducts the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) for Junior Secondary School as well the National Common Entrance Examination into Federal Government Colleges in the country.
The Council, which has 11 departments, is currently under the able leadership of the Registrar/Chief Executive, Professor Dantani Ibrahim Wushishi.
An excellent administrator walking the talk with achievements
Professor Dantani Ibrahim Wushishi, a professor of Science Education, was appointed as the Registrar/Chief Executive on 12th July, 2021 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
On assumption of office on 26th July, 2021, Professor Wushishi undertook a critical assessment of the activities of NECO and initiated policies that have brought about positive turnaround for the Council.
His first action in this direction was a tour of facilities to ascertain their viability and state of functionality. He did not hide his disappointment at the state of decay and the complete absence of infrastructure in the headquarters and the 36 states of the federation and FCT offices. And he quickly swung into action to correct the anomaly.
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 with power. The same facelift applies to NECO warehouse and the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Department. This was also extended to the Niger State Office, in addition to a brand new KVA transformer to address the problem of electricity which has been on since 2017.
Conscious of the fact that a conducive working environment is a veritable incentive that contributes in no small measure to the output of workers, the registrar approved the procurement of 2705 chairs for use by staff. This was in fulfillment of his promise to them during an interface to understand their challenges. This purchase is indeed regarded as the first phase of action in this direction.
In response to the realities of the 21st Century where technology is key, the registrar enabled the provision of internet facilities at the headquarters. A massive mast has been installed to make internet facilities easily accessible.
With this, Professor Wushishi assured the staff of his readiness to extend constant internet connectivity to all the state offices across the country. This was equally extended to ICT Department, the NECO Staff School and Niger State Office.
For an organization whose human component is in the threshold of several thousands, growth and expansion issues cannot be ignored if it must meet prevailing challenges and assuage interests.
Professor Dantani Wushishi understands this phenomenon accurately. To this end, in accord with the Governing Board, under the able 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, hitherto headed by Zonal Coordinators have all been upgraded to Directorates with a Director appointed to superintend each of them.
This upgrade has given rise to expansion in the system with each zone having four divisions headed by deputy and assistant directors.
This expansion has, no doubt, opened up the space for higher responsibilities and provided more hands to be part of the management process, making it more expansive and robust in scope.
The upgrade of the zonal offices to directorates has given birth to the change in nomenclature of leadership at the state and FCT offices. These changes now designate the offices as state and FCT coordinators.
As a comrade, Professor Wushishi understands very clearly the concept of welfare and what a robust welfare package means to staff of any organization. Again, in agreement with the governing board, the registrar secured approval for two crucial welfare packages for staff of the council, all within one year of his stewardship.
A retirement benefit package took effect from January, 2022, with an insurance policy for all staff. 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’s work.
Poised to make NECO a breakfast delight to most families, Professor Wushishi undertook advocacy visits to the government and people of Ebonyi, Cross River and Borno States.
In Ebonyi and Cross River States, he sought and got approval from the governors for NECO examinations to be made compulsory in all public schools while a 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.
Under the able leadership of Professor Wushishi, the Council has also achieved the following in the last one year;
Successful conduct and timely release of 2021 SSCE internal results
Successful conduct and timely release of 2021 SSCE for external candidates
Successful conduct of October 2021 edition of accreditation and re-accreditation of schools for BECE and SSCE respectively as well as that of the March, 2022 Edition.
Successful conduct of 2022 trial testing exercise in some selected schools across the six geo-political zones in the country
Successful conduct and timely release of 2022 National Common Entrance Examination (NCEE) for admission of candidates into Federal Government Colleges.
Successful conduct of 2022 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) for JSS3 students, transparent conduct of 2021 staff promotion exercise devoid of rancor
Prompt and full payment of Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) to officers on out of station assignments.
Enhanced honorarium to examiners and other ad-hoc staff engaged by the council.
Setting up various committees geared towards enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of the council’s operations
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 favoritism in posting for assignment any longer
Provision of basic facilities such as toilets at the premises of the Department of ICT, as before now, staff in the department visited nearby bushes to ease themselves when pressed.
Institution of reward system for staff who distinguish themselves in the discharge of their responsibilities
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.
Resuscitation of staff training workshops in the council such as;
Test development workshop held in November, 2021 aimed at training subject officers in Examination Development Department (EDD) on the rudiments of item development in the various subjects examined by the council. This will help to improve staff capacity and efficiency on job description as well as boosting the item bank of each subject.
Capacity training workshop for staff on the use of software for research data analysis organised by the Psychometrics Department in February, 2022.
Workshop on Critique of Trial Tested Items geared towards identifying items that are valid and reliable for future use in council’s examinations. The accepted items will boost the item banking of the Council’s examination process.
A two-day capacity training workshop on Quality Assurance in Educational Assessment with the theme: “Invigorating and Repositioning the National Examinations Council (NECO) through the Instrumentality of Quality Assurance for Effective Service Delivery”, held at the Council Headquarters, Minna on 21st and 22nd March, 2022.
NECO Staff School, which hitherto operates only at the Junior Secondary School level, has been up-graded and now runs classes at the Senior Secondary School level.
Also under the able leadership of Professor Wushishi, the council has presented a restructuring plan to the office of the Head of Service of the Federation to unbundle and restructure more Departments in the Council.
Prof. Wushishi has visited twelve state offices across the country to familiarise himself with the staff and also to have first-hand information on the activities, successes and challenges therein in these offices.
He further acquired 295 pieces of tyres for NECO vehicles as part of logistics for the smooth conduct of the 2022 Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) and acquired components of Ps 900 series for OMR Scanning Machines at the ICT Department.
Who is Professor Dantani Ibrahim Wushishi
Reeling out his achievements without knowing his background would be a disservice to the man, Professor Ibrahim Wushishi.
Professor Wushishi is an astute academic, sailor and an administrator, who was born in Wushishi Local Government Area of Niger State on 5th April, 1965.
He attended the Central Primary School, Wushishi, between 1973 and 1979, before proceeding to the Government Science College, Izom, for his Secondary Education from 1979 to 1984.
His quest for higher education took him to the Niger State College of Education, where he obtained the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) in 1987. He was at the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Akaso, Borikiri, Port-Harcourt in 1988 for the Naval Training Certificate.
He obtained his First and Masters Degrees as well as Ph.D in Science Education with bias in Chemistry from the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto in 1998, 2001 and 2005 respectively.
Professor Wushishi was a lecturer in the same university between April 2004 and August 2008 before he transferred his service to the Federal University of Technology, Minna in August 2008.
He was appointed an Associate Professor in 2014; Head of Department, Department of Science Education between 2013 and 2014; and Head of Department, Department of Science Education, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai (IBBUL) between 2015 and 2017, while on sabbatical.
Until his appointment as Registrar/Chief Executive of NECO on 12th July, 2021, he was a Professor of Science Education (Chemistry) at the Federal University of Technology, Minna.
Professor Wushishi has many scholarly publications to his credit. He has published more than 70 journal articles.
He has served in more than 30 university boards and committees as either chairman or member,
Sub-Dean, School of Science and Science Education, FUT, Minna. He was Vice-Chairperson, ASUU, FUT Minna, Visiting Professor, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai (IBBUL) and External Examiner to many universities such as the University of South Africa.
Professor Wushishi has bagged at least 17 awards from different reputable institutions and organisations in Nigeria and abroad.
To conclude, Professor Dantani Ibrahim Wushishi is an erudite scholar and a seasoned administrator. His eloquence and logic in any discourse holds his listeners spellbound. Though, a good listener, he is not given to unnecessary rhetoric, as he believes in the sanctity of facts. These qualities have distinguished him and endeared him to all his admirers within and outside NECO.
Poised to make NECO an internationally acclaimed examination body that others will look on to, he hit the ground running by initiating a series of reforms in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s change agenda which was aimed at actualizing the lofty goals.
Professor Wushishi, a pragmatic and an accomplished administrator will continue to contribute his quota towards the development of the nation’s educational system.