Buhari’s shocker that reshaped JAMB

Three years ago, Prof. Is-haq O. Oloyede was appointed the Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). This announcement was made on August 1, 2016 and was greeted with high expectations given the strategic position the board occupies in the education sector.

True to the vision and expectations of those who nominated him, Prof. Oloyede from the outset, stated that his mandate was to build on the legacies of predecessors. His appointment should be seen against the consensus within government circles, as enumerated by the then minister of education, that there was a necessity to rebrand the board for improved performance in terms of delivering credible and fair assessment. 

Armed with this resolve, the new registrar launched a five-point agenda. Chief among them was the need to partner with stakeholders to develop a robust technological infrastructure that would ease the operations of the board and boost organisational efficiency.

However, it was not until much later that we were to gain valuable insights into the aptness of the four philosophical underpinnings of his convictions, which if imbibed by a nation, are capable of taking her to the Promised Land. These four attributes are highlighted as follows:

Patriotism: The veritable antidote in addressing the plethora of national challenges we see today is to develop a very robust system that would produce very patriotic leaders who will see the responsibilities placed on their shoulders as a clarion call to render selfless service to the fatherland.  By so doing, any vestige of allegiance to tribe, religious or self would be annihilated.

The love for one’s name: Attachment to one’s name and the fear of such a name being besmirched if one does something wrong is a great quality in leadership. A man that fears nothing, including whether his name is dragged in the mud, is one that should not be placed in any position of responsibility.

Courage: One of the greatest attributes of leadership is to be courageous in taking critical decisions. As such, unless one is courageous, one may not be able to alter the status quo. This is because daring to change the status quo in a corrupt society is to incur public opprobrium and attract flaks from all quarters. As such, to dare to do things differently is to incur the wrath of the corrupt. However, whoever desires to make any positive change must not only be angry with the status quo but also be sufficiently equipped to deeply reflect on and consider all options including the possibility and reality of change-induced resistance.

Determination: This is a consistent desire to make an impact irrespective of whether support is available or otherwise. Most times, one’s effort is not appreciated but the determination to achieve a set goal should always keep one going.

It is the culmination of all these qualities in Oloyede, the uncommon transformer, that has helped in greatly repositioning what is today known as the sanitised JAMB.

As we celebrate three years of Oloyede’s iron-clad determination to imprint his name on the sands of time, we call on Nigerians from all walks of life to see his numerous efforts as his patriotic contributions to national development.

Never has someone done so much to arrest a systemic rot as has been done in the last three years by the Oloyede-led management of JAMB. Oscar Wilde probably had Oloyede in mind when he said: “You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.”

JAMB has become the darling of many public examination bodies globally owing largely to its giant strides in many fields. The nature and extent of its service delivery could only be likened to those obtained from private concerns. This is largely owing to the board’s long-term and strategic perspectives on good governance and human capital development coupled with a good grasp of Nigeria’s heterogeneous complexities.

As a manifestation of the foregoing, the board, in the last three years, has increased the number of CBT centres from 300 to 700 to ensure proximity of centres to candidates as well as for ease of examination administration. It has also revolutionised the registration process such that candidates initiate the process at their own convenience by just sending their names to a code; introduced Telcos as vehicles for the conduct of examination without necessarily using the Internet; introduced mock examinations to give candidates the opportunity to have a hands-on experience on the computer and above all, he renegotiated all processes involving third parties thus yielding surplus to the tune of ₦20billion which was promptly remitted to the federal treasury.  When the remittances were made, some vested interests raised issue with the humongous remittances not knowing that Section 22(2) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) mandates the board to make such remittances. Perhaps they would rather have the money stolen.

The board would not be daunted as it sees such a step as its patriotic duty to the nation. However, it is saddening that this uncommon display of patriotism was not employed as a unique opportunity to interrogate other systems and proffer lasting solutions to burning national issues.

Meanwhile, commendations to the minister of education would very much be in order for his uncommon courage of appointing very credible individuals as heads of parastatal and agencies under the Federal Ministry of Education. It was this support that makes these remittances possible in the first instance.  Mr. President should also be commended for taking keen interest in the affairs of the board, particularly monitoring the remittances which led to his prompt directive for the slash of the registration fee from N5000 to N3500.

The whole essence of celebrating Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in their various fields is to encourage many others to do same as well as put the records straight for posterity. If they had done otherwise they would have been rightly castigated as well. As such, the system should not only be seen as punishing wrong doings, it should also celebrate and reward intelligence, hard work and creativity. The remaining years of Oloyede leadership look very promising. Changing a system is like entering a shopping mall, for every choice in the mall, there is a price tag and Prof. Oloyede, having made his choice, is determined to pay the price.

Benjamin is head of media, JAMB

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