As someone with a keen interest in the phenomenal transformation of the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board(JAMB) under Professor Ishaq Oloyede, whom I once described as the ‘ “street wise” academician-cleric-social scientist Chief Executive’ of the Board in relation to his uncanny capacity for innovative reform, it is exciting to observe how my high hopes for the ubiquitous plague of “Nigerian Factor” to come under the broad-spectrum sanitization of the Oloyede JAMB elixir are being steadily fulfilled.
It was indeed reassuring to hear Professor Oloyede declaring the dawn of the era of JAMB as national examiner when he extended an invitation to corporate organisations to use its platform to conduct recruitment tests and examinations, drawing attention to the success recorded in the recent conduct of the police recruitment examination by JAMB. Earlier we got the unbelievable news that recruitment into the Nigeria Police Force, ironically one of the tap roots of “Nigerian Factor”, will henceforth be filtered by JAMB, convincing enough for every Nigerian to shake-off the lingering despair over the seeming impossibility of witnessing a better Nigeria of our collective expectations.
You can imagine the monumental difference it will make in the quest for a decent and enlightened police force, if all the corruption-ridden means of joining the police eventually lead applicants to a JAMB screening net where they will undergo a written aptitude test to ensure transparency and get the best out of the candidates. Already, about 37,000 candidates for police recruitment have written JAMB tests nationwide under the recruitment exercise recently approved by President Buhari for 6,000 new officers to help increase the personnel of the Nigeria Police Force.
This new generation of “JAMB cops” will not just be a numerical boost but also a qualitative input by virtue of being of proven educational standard and intelligence quotient in sharp contrast to the corrupt combination of “man-know-man-cash-and-carry” recruitments of the past. It will be reasonable to expect a commensurate upgrade of the basic attitude and performance of the average cop from this batch. We now have an assurance that stark illiterates and delinquent drop outs can no longer find their way into the police force.
Such impressive inroads into the process of personnel screening by examination have already earned JAMB the responsibility for conducting a selection examination for medical doctors to work during the Jerusalem pilgrimage of the National Christian Pilgrimage Commission, NCPC to meet NCPC’s desire for an improved selection system “based on merit, rather than bias.” It was therefore saddening that there was a misguided attempt to derail the JAMB screening of candidate-police officers by manipulation of an innocuous option of Arabic that appeared on the computer screens but was not enabled for the police tests, into a false alarm of religious agenda. As the “Nigerian Factor” reared its ugly head however JAMB promptly beheaded the scourge with a reassuring explanation of the software glitch that should have advised the candidates to ignore the inaccessible Arabic option, noting that no police candidate was tested for Arabic.
Nigerians must appreciate and stop politicizing the necessity of a transparent, credible and versatile institution devoted to promoting and maintaining high standards by dependable measurement and assessment mechanisms if we are to actualize the systematic overhaul and revitalization of Nigeria’s critical manpower sector as well as the leadership recruitment process for development and good governance. “We want to be conducting mass examination for people. We want sincere, transparent and honest people to approach the board for this service. We can assure them of the best service and full disclosure of all that the board is doing,” Professor Oloyede maintained.
The successful transformation of a public institution like JAMB from the typical routine-restricted parastatal into a dynamic development institution focussed on excelling and extending the frontiers of its contribution to national progress is yet another pointer to the Buhari Administration’s corrective capacity driven by transparency, public accountability and zero tolerance for corruption. The likes of Professor Oloyede who combine academic attainment with professional intelligence and transparent patriotism would not be accommodated or permitted to initiate and implement such far-reaching reforms or reverse the culture of financial profligacy in government agencies as he did when he paid an unprecedented five billion naira revenue into the government treasury in his first year in office, under any other administration.
The Oloyede Factor is just beginning to make its innovative and ingenious impact felt in JAMB, no doubt also with the exemplary solidarity of management and staff. Now JAMB is much more than a university and tertiary education admissions processor, it is steadily acquiring the credibility and responsibility of a national human resource evaluation agency. With the strong backing of reform-motivated Education Minister, Adamu Adamu no area of concern or “decadent paralysis” in the nation’s education sector will escape the attention and necessary action of the extraordinary Nigerian corrective taskforce embedded in the Buhari Administration.
– Danbarewa wrote from Kaduna
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