For many in Nigeria, the National Examination Council (NECO), established in April 1999, did not stand a chance against the already existing West African Examinations Council (WAEC).
However, the exam body has managed to overcome many challenges and become an entity to reckon with, courtesy of its seven Registrars and Chief Executives, especially its current leader, Professor Dantani Ibrahim Wushishi, a professor of Science Education.
The 24-year-old agency was established with the core mandate to conduct the Senior School Certificate Examination for Internal and External candidates, including the conduct of the National Common Entrance Examination (NCEE) and Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
Upon assumption of office on 26 July, 2021, Professor Wushishi undertook a critical assessment of the agency’s activities in this direction and began to initiate policies to improve its productivity and credibility.
The Registrar also approved the Procurement of 2,705 work chairs for staff, in recognition that a conducive working environment is an incentive for the quality of worker’s output. He also provided internet facilities at the Headquarters, installing a massive mast to make internet facilities easily accessible in the Council, promising to extend to all the state offices across the Country.
Under the able leadership of Professor Wushishi, the Council has recorded many feats, especially, the successful conduct of many internal and external examinations, accreditation and re-accreditation of schools for BECE and SSCE, respectively, and the development of an ICT software to enhance and ensure fairness in the posting of staff for assignments.
He also approved the provision of basic sanitary facilities at the Department of ICT and instituted a reward system for staff who distinguish themselves in the discharge of their responsibilities.
He instituted an e-library to enhance access to information and data on educational assessment to enhance job efficiency in Test Development, Quality Assurance, and curbing examination malpractice and other infractions associated with public examinations.
He introduced the use of stanine software in determining Grade Boundaries for BECE, SSCE Internal, and SSCE External examinations, an innovation in the history of NECO. This brought an end to the manual method of determining grade boundaries in the exam body.
Under Prof. Wushishi, staff training workshops were resuscitated, leading to the training of subject officers of the Examination Development Department (EDD) on the rudiments of Item development in the various subjects examined by the Council.
Staff were trained on the use of Stata Software for research and data analysis and also trained to critique the Trial Tested Items geared towards identifying items that are valid and reliable for future use in Council examinations.
Professor Wushishi in alignment with the Governing Board, under the able leadership of Dr. Abubakar Siddique, saw to it that 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.
Wushishi ensured the provision of a well-equipped Statistics and Data Analysis Studio in the Department of Psychometrics, the completion of the perimeter fence of the NECO warehouse in Minna to ensure the security of NECO property, rehabilitation of warehouse drainages and part of the badly damaged warehouse.
He approved the purchase of an e-grenary database to access e-resources by subject officers of NECO in all knowledge-based disciplines for easy development of examination items for NECO examinations.
Prof Wushishi also unveiled the NECO e-verify App for Result Verification/Confirmation for students in 2023.
While Wushishi’s accomplishments within a short period may be too numerous to outline in this piece, it is pertinent to note that he may go down in history as one of the chief executive officers who will not be tainted with graft, going by the transparency and open door policy currently being practiced in NECO.