By Solomon Semaka –
The appointment of Professor Ishaq Oloyede as the Registrar/Chief Executive of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) was received with mixed feelings. To some it was an invitation to partake in the national ‘cake’; yet to others especially those who had inkling about his person, it was an initiation to contribute to the development of the Board and education in general.
Prior to his coming, JAMB was touted to be over whelmed with organization of examinations amidst administrative laxity. But less than two years of his stay in the office, the Board has witnessed a lot of momentous changes that have transformed the entire landscape of the Board. As one who assumed office as a seasoned administrator, Oloyede declared right from the outset that the task of building an organization must be by improving on the work done by his predecessor as a collective responsibility.
He said, “Whether my period here is short, truncated or long, what is important is to do my bit and leave the stage better than we met it, just as my predecessors did. Setting the stage is a collective task and we all have to make this great Board even greater.”
Prof Oloyede’s principles incidentally coincide with that of the great American author and political activist, Hellen Keller which says: “Alone we can do little, together we can do so much” as he has since ensured that all stakeholders are sensitised on plans of the Board so as to critique the processes and fine-tune the process to secure the buy-in of all stakeholders.
The former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin and Secretary-General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs who is a champion in applying technology since his days at the university has ensured full automation of the Board.
For instance, while serving at the Vice Chancellor, he lifted the institution to national and international prominence with his unique leadership style. He initiated the Computer Based Test (CBT) for conducting mid semester test and examination for students. The CBT initiative has since turned the institution into an Information Communication and Technology (ICT) hub. Evidently, Prof. Oloyede’s dogged and resilient leadership qualities led to the introduction of online course registration thereby reducing stress as well as man hours devoted to course registration.
At JAMB, the distinguished scholar has built his administration within the five cardinal principles of; ICT, Welfare, Discipline, Transparency and Networking. He has subjected the Board’s activities to public scrutiny and not doing things behind the table.
Expectedly, the plan worked and the Board was able to reduce the huge involvement of external service providers, the operational examination process.
Today, JAMB’s activities are open to all stakeholders, from the academia, civil society groups, and the media amongst others. These steps are necessary to get the buy-in of all concerned with the examination process to curb the menace of examination malpractice and other vices.
True to the pledge made Oloyede at the inception of his administration to run an all inclusive organisation, the Board has been engaging all stakeholders on all its policies and programmes. A case in point is the engagement in various consultations in the form of retreats on how best to conduct the 2017 examination with a view to making it one of the most acceptable.
Arising from the point of view that examination malpractice in contemporary time has become a huge challenge the world over; and coupled with JAMB’s management determination to address the monster, it introduced a number of processes during registration, from profile creation, which personalizes candidates’ registration to the capturing of 10 finger prints to address the issue of impersonation and detect multiple registrations.
This policy brought about sanity in the process as attempts at double registration were dictated. A similar method is being used, with some adjustments in the current sale of Direct Entry (DE) and foreign candidates’ admission materials.
Besides adopting technology for efficiency in administering examination, the Board has also achieved a centralization of all revenues accruing to the purse. This move has seen to an astronomical boost in the income of the Board. For instance, the Board under Prof. Oloyede remitted over N5billion to the Federal Government.
The said amount is reputed to have been the highest for about 40 years of JAMB existence. Although, the number of candidates has continued to increase yearly, the feat of remitting N5billion can only be achieved through a transparent and judicious use of resources.
At the time, several applicants are jostling for few available spaces in the nation’s higher institutions, and JAMB is yet bracing up to its patriotic duties by vehemently opposing multiple registrations of candidates as a check to examination malpractice and the falling standard of education in the country.
In a recent statement signed by the Board’s head of media, warned that, candidates who involve in double registration would be penalized. It states that, “The Board is not interested in the candidates’ money as being insinuated by certain groups who suggested to the Board that such registration will enhance the revenue base of the Board. No, we are more interested in the sanctity of the examination and not the money. If money is our concern, we would not be returning over N5billion to the Federal Government coffers”.
For every change there is expectedly a reaction. The new moves introduced in revenue collection of the Board no doubt attracted some opposition. But determined to make a difference, Prof. Oloyode did not allow that hinder him. The erudite Prof who admitted in a media chart that some staff were working for outsiders who planted them were reshuffled to allow for efficiency.
Semaka, a public affairs analyst writes from Abuja