By LEONARD KARSHIMA SHILGBA
Nigeria has some of the best agencies of government with great mandates or intentions, which if intelligently, fully, and faithfully implemented, would trigger qualitative development. The National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) is one of such agencies. Established in 1992, and given a broad mandate on Business and Technical examinations, certification, and validation of skills for wealth creation and economic self-reliance, NABTEB is so legally and constitutionally empowered by decree 70 (1993), now Act 70 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (2004) [ CAP N12, LFN. 2004]. The Act is prefaced thus: “An Act to establish the National Business and Technical Examinations Board to have responsibility for the general control of the conduct of technical and business examinations hitherto conducted by the Royal Society of Arts of London City and Guilds of London and the West African Examinations Council and matters connected therewith.”
Section 3 of the Act, which describes the functions of NABTEB, opens thus: “Notwithstanding the provision of any other enactment the Board shall have responsibility to—.” Let me select some of the functions stated in the Act in order to strengthen the point I have set out to make. Besides the first four (4) examinations that the Act says NABTEB has responsibility to conduct, namely, National Technical Certificate (NTC), Advanced National Technical Certificate(ANTC), National Business Certificate (NBC), and Advanced National Business Certificate (ANBC), NABTEB is empowered to:
- “Take over the conduct of technical and business examinations hitherto conducted by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) of London, City and Guilds of London and the West African Examinations Council (WAEC).” [Section 3 (b)]
Commentary: Research into the business and technical examinations conducted by RSA and City & Guilds (which are global players) would reveal what NABTEB ought to be doing both nationally and globally. And if any university, polytechnic, or institution of learning, research, or work, recognizes or respects certificates issued by WAEC, and yet fails to do the same for any certificates issued by NABTEB, they would not only be acting against the constitution of Nigeria, but be contradicting themselves as well.
- “Conduct other specified examinations on behalf of or in collaboration with other examination bodies or agencies such as the London Chamber of Commerce or Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, etc.” [Section 3 (d)]
Commentary: This section empowers NABTEB to be actively engaged in the certification of all business (and technical) professionals practising in Nigeria, or the validation of certificates issued to all business and technical professionals (by any institution in the world) who wish to work in Nigeria. Particularly, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), being specifically mentioned in this section as an example or an equivalence representative of examination bodies on behalf of or in collaboration with whom NABTEB conducts specified examinations, cannot operate henceforth without NABTEB’s full, principled, and transparently procedural involvement. If an ICAN-certified professional (post-1993) does not know about NABTEB, it is one piece of evidence that an infraction against the law is being perpetrated by the management of ICAN. The Governing Board of NABTEB would soon engage ICAN and similar bodies on this matter.
- “Monitor, collect and keep records of continuous assessment in technical colleges and allied institutions towards the award of certificates in national business and technical examinations.” [Section 3 (f)]
Commentary: Any technician or artisan that is practising in Nigeria without NABTEB’s certification, validation, or certification by an examination body which has been accredited and licensed by NABTEB, would soon be stopped from doing so. Certificates are operating licenses, declaring that the holder has the requisite skills to function in the field in which they are certified. Accordingly, plumbers, painters, masons, auto mechanics, auto electricians, welders or metal fabricators, carpenters, electricians, tile layers, barbers and hair saloon workers, caterers, computer hardware/software repairers, mobile phone repairers, etc., must be certified by NABTEB and issued a coded (with a unique number) operating license (with the requirement of re-certification every three years even as technology evolves) before they will be allowed to practice in Nigeria. First world standards must be introduced in Nigeria. Customers have suffered enough at the hands of unqualified technicians and artisans, who have destroyed our vehicles, made a mess of our buildings, and endangered our lives by their incompetence.Must we, for instance, ship our faulty auto vehicles abroad for repairs even as we fly out our sick bodies? Very soon customers can access NABTEB’s website to find qualified and certified artisans and technicians in any business and technical occupational fields. The Enforcement Unit of NABTEB would commence the sealing off of business and operating centres, and construction sites of uncertified artisans and technicians after the deadline, which shall be published after due consultation with relevant organs of government, even as NABTEB also has the responsibility to “carry out such other activities as are necessary or expedient for the full discharge of all or any of the functions conferred on it under or pursuant to this Act.” [Section 3 (i)]
- Furthermore, NABTEB has the responsibility to “conduct research, publish statistics and other information in order to develop appropriate examinations, tests and syllabi in technical and business studies.” [Section 3 (g)]
Commentary: NABTEB develops suitable or appropriate examinations and tests that would set operating and performance standards in Nigeria. NABTEB would be announcing new products and tests targeted at, among others, IDPs, veterans, faith groups, etc., and engage in systematic promotion of Technical, Entrepreneurship and Vocational Initiative (TEVI) across all the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria. NABTEB’s Research and Quality Assurance Department would soon step up in this regard.While NABTEB’s NTC/NBC examinations also cover General Examinations, which both NECO and WAEC cover, both NECO and WAEC do not offer the many other examinations that NABTEB is empowered to.
NABTEB, in accordance to its Act, has power to obtain information: At section 18 of NABTEB Act, titled “Power to obtain information”, we have the following provisions:
- For the purpose of carrying out the functions conferred on the Board under this Act, the Registrar or any other employee of the Board authorised in that behalf—
- shall have a right of access to all relevant records of any institution to which this Act applies; and
- may by notice in writing served on any person in charge of any such institution require that person to furnish or cause to be furnished information on such matters as may be specified in the notice.
- It shall be the duty of any person required to furnish information pursuant to sub-section (1) of this section to comply with the notice within a reasonable period of time.
This section therefore empowers NABTEB’s Enforcement Unit in its operations. Moreover, at section 22 of NABTEB Act, entitled, “Regulations”, it is provided that:
The Board may, with the approval of the Minister, make regulations generally for the carrying into effect of the provisions of this Act and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, regulations may provide for—
- the persons or categories of persons who may enter for examinations conducted by the Board;
- the conduct of candidates during such examinations; and
- the obligations of institutions involved in presenting candidates for the examinations conducted by the Board.
Agencies of government must work in collaboration with each other, and not at cross purposes if the business of governance would yield the desired dividends. NABTEB would always seek collaboration and consultation, while confrontation would be the last resort, where impunity rears up its head without retreat, and obduracy stands up against enlightenment. A pro-active and innovative NABTEB is a veritable answer to harnessing and enhancing the much desired skills which lead to wealth creation and economic self-reliance. NABTEB—certifying skills for wealth creation and economic self-reliance!
Professor Shilgba is the Chairman of the Governing Board of National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB)