By Femi Adesina
Whenever I see a paragon, champion of transparency and accountability, I remember Muhammadu Buhari, retired military officer and gentleman, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
Whenever I hear that a man has shunned greed, avarice, rapacity, I remember Buhari. Whenever I see anyone pay scant attention to the ephemeral things of this life, I remember Buhari. Whenever I see disdain for filthy lucre, cupidity, Muhammadu Buhari comes to mind. You don’t have them more spartan, austere, and abstemious than that.
But we are not talking about Muhammadu Buhari today. Rather, our object is a man who is like him, in terms of frugality, financial accountability and transparency. Step forward, Professor Ishaq Olarewaju Oloyede, Registrar/Chief Executive of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
I have watched the admissions organization since 2016 when Oloyede was appointed, and I’ve seen things that baffle me, that make me wonder whether they make them like this anymore. I had thought that after people like Buhari, the breed had vanished, evaporated. But now, I know that there will always be a remnant, who have not bowed their knees to Baal and Ashtoreth.
JAMB is by no means a revenue generating agency. It was not designed to be so. And over the decades, those who ran the Board never gave an indication that there was surplus money anywhere. They would even ask for bailouts, which government would likely grant.
Till Oloyede came. In his first year in office, the Professor of Islamic Studies and former Vice Chancellor, University of Ilorin, returned N7 billion into Federal Government coffers, as operating surplus. Holy Moses! It’s not raining cats and dogs, whales and hippos. It’s raining cash. And venue is JAMB.
But we ain’t seen nothing yet. Flash in the pan? By no means. In 2018, Oloyede did it again. And in 2019, 2020, 2021, till now. Jumping Jehoshaphat! About N30 billion has now been returned since the man came. And JAMB is the more efficient, the more methodical and systematized for it.
The question this brings to mind is; what has been happening to the same operating surplus over the decades? Of course, the answer blows in the winds. Till Buhari came. And Oloyede came. Birds of the same feather. Lovers of God. Haters of iniquity. Men who know that they would one day answer for every purloined naira, either before man, or before God. Today, Prof Oloyede is one of the ‘poster boys’ of the Buhari administration, which emphasizes transparency. We are proud of him.
On October 11, 2022, Oloyede received the Commander of the Niger (CON) National Honours Award from the President. It was a day after his 68th birthday, and exactly a week later, he bagged the Nigeria Excellence in Public Service Awards (NEAPS). These are just some of the scores of awards the man has received round the world. Befitting.
Don’t think with all the display of transparency, Oloyede does not have his traducers. He has. Doesn’t Buhari himself have? He has in loads. And some of the accusations include financial malfeasance, which they are never able to make stick. The lesson is; however clean you are , people will still throw mud at you. But continue to be clean anyway. If the Earth does not reward you, Heaven sure will. “Honesty is the best policy,” my own spartan educationist father would always tell his children. It’s 27 years today since he went to his eternal rest. May Papa Adesina sleep well, till the day of the Great Awakening.
JAMB under Oloyede is not only about returning of operating surplus, as important as that is. Hear Kunle Akogun, journalist and Corporate Affairs Director of the University of Ilorin, who lists initiatives under the Registrar as: “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.”
Others include “the use of CCTV cameras in all CBT centres to monitor the examination and registration process real time; and exemplary funds management; as well as prudent and judicious use of JAMB’s financial resources.”
He stressed that post-Oloyede era (he’s in his second and final term of five years), “all need to be consolidated upon in order to avoid the incidence of the well-known Nigerian syndrome of policy summersault and programme discontinuity that often characterize the advent of any new administration in this clime.” Very true.
I have seen a lot in government and out of it, to realize and recognize that graft, plunder, grand larceny, are the problems of Nigeria. And we won’t get out of it, except we all have a measure of Buhari, and of Oloyede in us. That is the way forward for our country.
° Adesina is Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity