By Mahfouz Adedimeji
“If you have a book for recording forecasts, please mark my words and make this entry into the book. By the time Prof. Oloyede is through with the University of Ilorin as Vice-Chancellor, you will not only be ‘BETTER BY FAR’, you will, if you permit the usage, be ‘FAR, FAR, BETTER BY FAR.’”
Those were the words of a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Peter Okebukola (OFR), while delivering a convocation lecture at the University of Ilorin a year after Prof. Is-haq O. Oloyede became the Vice-Chancellor of the University, precisely on October 21, 2008. Nothing would make a person of Prof. Okebukola’s reputation give such a definitive endorsement except for his deep knowledge of the personality involved.
At the end of the day, when Prof. Oloyede completed his assignment as Vice-Chancellor, the entire University was transformed in all spheres of development. An external indicator was that the University that was not featuring in the ranking table eventually became consistently ranked by international ranking agencies the best in Nigeria and one of the best twenty in Africa.
So dynamic was Oloyede that it was not only the University of Ilorin felt his far-reaching impact. Rather, the national, regional, continental and global university communities knew that Nigeria had an extra-ordinary university administrator that blazed the trail and redefined administrative acumen. In other words, as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Oloyede was at various times also the Chairman of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU)/ Committee of Vice-Chancellors (CVC), President of the Association of African Universities (AAU) and Board member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and International Association of Universities (IAU). He also initiated the Association of West Africa Universities (AWAU), established through the “Ilorin Declaration”.
Well known for his intellectual depth, academic dynamism, tremendous courage and abundant physical energy, Prof. Oloyede would dare the devil and damn the consequences. A man of transparent honesty and unblemished integrity, he banished cultism from the University of Ilorin and the bad boys fled for good. He was the Vice-Chancellor who with his deputy laid ambush for a notorious criminal at 11:30 p.m., personally arresting him and keeping the female students safe thereafter.
By the time he completed his eventful tenure, the whole University was grateful and he left big shoes that only Prof. Abdulganiyu Ambali, the current Vice-Chancellor, could perfectly fill in.
So, when the announcement was made last July 31, 2016 that Prof. Is-haq O. Oloyede is the new Chief Executive and Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB), there was an instant excitement in several circles. The excitement was based on the new chief’s pedigree and the firm belief of several Nigerians that he is a man that would reform the Board, which pissed off many Nigerians in the past one year that clamour was made for its scrapping by serious-minded stakeholders, including newspapers. To me, as I adumbrated August last year in “JAMB: To be or not to be ?” it was the typical Nigerian attitude of considering beheading the solution to headache.
Now that “the chief has come” (Oloye de) to JAMB, following Prof. Okebukola, one can also aver that change indeed has come. Prof. Oloyede’s appointment will no doubt impact positively on the lives of millions of Nigerian adolescents and adults alike who must pass through JAMB to attain higher education in about 1,000 tertiary institutions in the country.
I heard with one ear (apologies to Prof. Pius Adesanmi) that some people, motivated by religious bigotry, ethnic zealotry and crass hypocrisy, are denigrating Prof. Oloyede but the sun cannot be smeared by their sticky mud. I also learnt, half-heartedly, that they are flooding the social media with hate and hubris. I think they should “kontinue” and earn a living by so doing. Afterall, William Shakespeare had said in immortal words in his “Hamlet”, “…be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou can’t escape calumny.”
Ultimately, one thing is certain, regardless of being friend or foe, “the chief has come” on Board: to paraphrase Prof. Okebukola, dear Nigerians, “if you have a book for recording forecasts, please mark my words and make this entry into the book. By the time Prof. Oloyede is through with JAMB as Registrar, it will not only be ‘BETTER BY FAR’, it will, if you permit the usage, be ‘FAR, FAR, BETTER BY FAR.’”