The goldfish in JAMB – By Kunle Akogun

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*Photo: Prof Oloyede*

For keen watchers and followers of his enthralling trajectory, the recent news that the Registrar/Chief Executive Officer of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Is’haq Olanrewaju Oloyede, has become a hot cake for five African countries that desperately covet his services, is not surprising nor is it unexpected.

His sterling performance at JAMB and at the University of Ilorin where he was Vice Chancellor between 2007 and 2012 easily recommends him for anybody or entity that truly desires the best in service delivery and organisational efficiency. He is a veritable goldfish that has no hiding place.

So, even as most Nigerians have almost given up on the country as a result of its deep immersion in the cesspit of corruption, there are still some of our countrymen whose activities in both public offices and their private lives continue to assure us that there is yet hope for Nigeria; hope of a sure dawn of a truly new era; hope of a country that will surely rub shoulders with some of the best nations in the world in terms of every conceivable index of growth and development.

There is, however, an abiding feeling that these “new Nigerians” are either born ahead of their times or have simply found themselves at a wrong place at a wrong time. The iconic Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Oloyede, is unarguably one of these exceptional Nigerians. They are those that have successfully defied the pervasive anomie. In their lonely but dignifying walk, they tow the path of forthrightness by choosing to do things differently from the maddening crowd around them.

They often do this to the chagrin of the evil minded, who frenetically seek the sustenance of the rotten status quo and to the admiration of all lovers of good things, who genuinely desire a shift from the ugly trend of corruption, bad governance, graft, and general integrity deficit.

As revealed recently at the 6th National Policy Dialogue of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences (ICPC), five countries are angling to poach the JAMB Registrar because of his high level of integrity and ethical standards.

The Keynote Speaker at the event, Prof. Toyin Falola of the Department of History, University of Texas, Austin, USA, who dropped the hint, stated that “to effectively address corruption, it was important to focus on transforming bahaviour and fostering a culture of integrity and accountability, which requires active participation from individuals across all sectors”.

Prof. Falola’s revelation was echoed by the ICPC’s Director of Public Enlightenment and Education, Mr. Mohammed Ashiru Baba, during a sensitisation lecture on the “Role of Public/Civil Servants in the Implementation of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy”, organised by the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU) of JAMB in collaboration with ICPC on Tuesday, October 24, 2023 in Abuja. The ICPC Director said, “Prof. Oloyede is an icon of integrity and it is evident in the way the public and, indeed, the world views the Board.

According to him, it is because of this high level of integrity that he is being sought after by five countries.

The transformational initiatives of Prof. Oloyede at JAMB, and the single-minded commitment he invests in the office since he became Registrar in 2016 are legion and well-acknowledged.

Top among these are: the Central Admissions Processing System (CAPS) for automation of admission process; the institution of Equal Opportunity Group for the conduct of the Universal Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) for Blind Candidates; the expansion of the capacities of CBT centres for standardization purposes; the introduction of E-Ticketing (for Complaints; the introduction of the Integrated Brochure and Syllabus System (IBASS) for prompt delivery of admissions requirements; the use of Biometric Authentication to confirm validity of registration; the introduction of E-slip printing; the introduction of management dashboard to monitor registration and admission exercise real time; the use of CCTV cameras in all CBT centres to monitor the examination and registration process real time; exemplary funds management; an ebullient staff welfare policy; as well as prudent and judicious use of JAMB’s financial resources, an initiative that made it possible for the Board to remit more than N70 billion to the Federal Government’s coffer despite not being a statutory revenue generating agency!

The Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence has so sanitised JAMB’s operations since he took over its leadership that it seems that the 46-year old Board had never been in any tangible operational existence before 2016!

Not only did he institute an enhanced welfare scheme for JAMB staff that greatly boosted their morale and enhanced the quality of their service delivery, Prof. Oloyede’s messianic administration has substantially restored the sanctity of the Board’s main mandate, which is the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME). And, as evident in all the seven admission exercises he had superintended so far, JAMB’s technology had considerably improved, with high level of transparency and advanced networking.

The scrapping of the traditional scratch card system for checking results is another positive rebellion by this audacious JAMB helmsman. And the drastic reduction in the application fees is a serious relief to sundry admission seekers and their parents and guardians.

But by far the most remarkable feat by any non-revenue yielding MDA in the country is the consistent annual remittance by Prof. Oloyede’s JAMB of  whopping sums of money in billions of naira to the Federal Government coffers since the past seven years. This is indeed praise-worthy, especially in a country where even some MDAs that were specifically and statutorily established to collect revenue for the government often turn round to ask the same government for extra-budgetary bail-outs to supplement their overheads and write off their deficit expenditures!

By this feat, Prof. Oloyede merely lived up to his well-known credentials of administrative acumen, financial discipline and legendary transparency in public service. The erudite don and consummate administrator became a household name during his tenure as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin between 2007 and 2012, having largely succeeded in turning the second generation University into a world class institution. This, he achieved by dint of hard work, resilience, consistency, tenacity of purpose and unparalleled team spirit.

Indeed, Prof. Oloyede’s trajectory has been a study in forthrightness, service excellence, administrative acumen, religious commitment to the achievement of set goals, and unapologetic insistence on fairness to all.

Even despite his sterling track records of achievements, not a few attempts have been made by mischievous elements to disparage and rubbish the reputation of this undeniable game changer in recent times.

However, each of those sinister attempts not only fell flat on their faces as soon as they were hatched, they also turned round to reconfirm the incorruptibility of this rare Nigerian specie and enhance his high integrity rating even among both the sceptics and inveterate critics.

Talk of the controversy that surrounded Joy Mmesoma Ejikeme’s result forgery saga; the allegation of employment racket raised by a member of the House of Representatives and the alleged unjust denial of admission raised by a candidate.

But no sooner were these accusations made than they all fell like packs of cards when JAMB presented its usually unassailable defence against each of them.

Such is the stuff that this icon of service excellence and paragon of integrity is made of. May his tribe multiply in a country that is in dire need of true patriots that could take her out of the current wilderness of pervasive corruption and general inefficiency in public service. 

*Akogun is the Director, Corporate Affairs, University of Ilorin

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