By Anthony Kolawole
Nigerianss resent truth. They abhor it and seek to cage it within the prisms of their crooked instincts. When President Muhammadu Buhari launched the national re-orientation campaigns for attitudinal change tagged #ChangeBeginsWithMe#, many Nigerians never saw the wisdom. But successive events are now illuminating the necessity of the campaigns.
There is nothing good leadership at any level or institution introduces that some dubious Nigerians would not contrive ways to defile. Last week, the Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Ibadan Chapter, Dr Deji Omole canvassed for the resignation of the Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) Professor Ishaq Oloyede over the hiccups in the registration for Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) experienced in some parts of the country.
The academic from Uni-Ibadan, which currently hosts the national secretariat of ASUU, the body which remained the only odd voice that opposed Oloyede’s appointment on selfish grounds, posed like a nationalist and mouthpiece of ASUU. He unconvincingly decried the difficulties candidates are experiencing in registering for the exams online. But Dr.Omole, an academic knew, but failed to acknowledge that the introduction of the Computer Based Test (CBT) by JAMB was mainly to curb the high incidence of exam fraud. It was designed to ensure candidates presented by JAMB for admissions in higher institutions in the country were genuinely accessed as qualified for further studies in the courses they applied.
But as it is typical with Nigerians, fraudsters invaded the process of UTME online and created difficulties in some states of the federation. And the fraudsters who invaded the system have also been arrested and are being prosecuted, an indication that the JAMB Registrar is alive and awake to his responsibilities.But instead of looking at the issue dispassionately, Omole purportedly speaking for ASUU erroneously thought it was the incompetence of the JAMB helmsman and he should resign. Beneath the seeming patriotic call for Oloyede’s resignation were the shadows of the resurrection of the old feud ASUU had with Oloyede, when he was the Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin, over the sacked Unilorin ASUU members.
They haunted Oloyede while he was still in the academia and when he was elevated to the position of JAMB Chief Executive Officer, ASUU was the first to threaten industrial action, should the Presidency fail to reverse the appointment. The Presidency perceived the campaigns against Professor Oloyede’s appointment as baseless and stood its grounds. The anger is yet to dissipate and when fraudsters hijacked the registration process, it became the justification of a section of ASUU to call for his resignation. It’s good tidings because at least to the extent that they failed to get him sacked and now, they are begging him to resign.
So, whatever good intentions; whatever reforms Professor Oloyede is battling day and night to instil sanity into the system became meaningless to the Uni-Ibadan ASUU boss. But his colleagues at Unilorin considered his vomits as balderdash. The Chairman of the Unilorin branch of ASUU, Dr. Usman Abdulraheem and the Secretary, Dr. Mary Lewu clearly stressed in a statement that “All negative actions and commentaries of ASUU, University of Ibadan cannot dim the ever shining star of Prof. Oloyede because this workaholic is too committed to achieving excellence in every assignment.”
Except a section of ASUU which is on vengeance mission against Professor Oloyede, no Nigerian is in doubt about his competence and excellence in any assignments. Just barely a year as JAMB boss, Oloyede has introduced reforms and innovations in the conduct of UTME, which are not just novel in Nigeria alone, but in other West Africa countries. Aside the implementation of the CBT, the JAMB boss has also introduced nation-wide mock examinations for prospective candidates of UTME to test their preparedness for the actual exams. And it is free and the JAMB board considered it as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility to both the students and the society.
It remains a miracle that candidates no longer write UTME and wait endlessly for months to see the results. And there is near zero incidents of missing results. Candidates paying for the exams pay directly to government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA), an indication that the JAMB boss is not concerned with duping or cheating candidates or the government. It is a strong statement about his disposition on accountability, transparency and probity anywhere he serves.
Professor Oloyede has not only secured the online system of registration for UTME by issuing personalized access codes to accredited CBT centres throughout the country; it also have features to detect abuses aimed at circumventing the registration process. It explains the arrest of culprits in some parts of the country like Borno, Oyo and Ogun states among others.
Nigerians must learn to be fair to themselves, especially those in leadership positions. In spite of the deliberate and dubious manipulation of the registration process, Oloyede’s JAMB has been able to authentically register over a million candidates out of the 1.5 million estimated for the 2017 CBT for UTME within the first three weeks. No yardstick of assessment, if not influenced by malice would neither say, an exercise with such records of success is a failure nor the JAMB boss is incompetent.
It is extremely in bad taste, that Professor Oloyede, a very strong and positive character, a workaholic, who spends sleepless nights, sometimes in the office to ensure, the system flows smoothly and that abuses are curbed to confer credibility on the UMTE process is vilified by a section of ASUU, instead of commendation. The Uni-Ibadan ASUU boss laughably canvassed for the scrapping of JAMB and the replacement of university entry exams jointly conducted by JAMB, with exams organized as detected by each university for their candidates.
If Dr.Omole and indeed, other branches of ASUU which share his funny thoughts are really concerned with the improvement in the standards of education in Nigeria, like he pretended, ASUU should rather be concerned about why they churn out half-baked and unproductive graduates. They are not only culpable, but appear to delight in the sad reality that some of their students cannot correctly spell their names and yet they are issued degree certificates.
This should be the concern of an ASUU genuinely inspired and disturbed by the fallen standards of education in Nigeria. Professor Oloyede who is attempting to sanitize the entry process into higher institutions has become their enemy for inexplicable reasons. But it is unworkable to turn a personal feud into a national problem.Professor Oloyede should not be distracted by the noise from ASUU Uni-Ibadan and no matter how hard they sponsor malicious campaigns against him, Nigerians know that Oloyede has taken JAMB and UTME to amazing levels of innovations, which are working. The fraudsters shall continue to be detected, arrested and prosecuted until the system is finally freed from their fangs. But finally, until Nigerians learn to change their crooked instincts, blaming others for the criminal outings of others is no remedy.
Kolawole wrote from Keffi, Nasarawa State