Is anyone surprised that within a space of two weeks, the high-flying, record-setting, cerebral Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Is-haq Olanrewaju Oloyede, got for himself two prestigious awards of excellence? I doubt it! But for rabid haters, those whose eyes are wide open but refuse to see and whose ears are in rapt attention but refuse to hear, there is a near consensus of informed opinion that the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin richly deserved the twin awards recently conferred on him, at separate fora, by two leading national newspapers – The Sun and Leadership.
On January 25, 2019, at an elaborate ceremony in Lagos, The Sun newspaper conferred on him the “Public Service Award for 2018”. Justifying the choice of the erudite scholar and astute administrator for the prestigious award, the newspaper’s management said, “Since his assumption of office as the Registrar of JAMB, Prof. Oloyede has proved to be an exemplary public servant with zero tolerance for corruption. Apart from setting up a new order of transparency in the running of the agency, he has tremendously improved the activities of the government agency, remitting billions of Naira to the coffers of the Federal Government from the sale of forms and other services. For these sterling achievements, Prof. Oloyede deserves the Public Service Award of The Sun for 2018”.
And barely two weeks later, on February 7, 2019, another leading national newspaper, Leadership, also pronounced Oloyede’s JAMB as “Government Agency of the Year 2018”! According to the newspaper, “The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has been a cesspool of corruption for a long time but nobody knew. Then suddenly, a different kind of man got posted there as Registrar. All of a sudden, within one year, the same JAMB that had been remitting something in the range of N3 million to the Federal Government annually, remitted over N5 billion that year. Yes, this is true. That even enabled JAMB to reduce its fees for the teeming Nigerian students who are the main clients of the government agency. For those inimitable acts, the new JAMB under Prof. Is-haq Olanrewaju Oloyede is “Leadership Government Agency of the Year 2018”.
It is a thing of personal joy for me that Prof. Oloyede has not disappointed his teeming admirers since his appointment about three years ago. Rather, he has shamed the vociferous opposition to his well-merited appointment. Not only has he instituted an enhanced welfare scheme for JAMB staff that is already boosting their morale, Prof. Oloyede has also, since the advent of his messianic mission, substantially restored the sanctity of the Board’s main mandate: the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME). And, as evident in the two admission exercises he has superintended so far, JAMB’s technology has considerably improved, with high level of transparency and advanced networking. The scrapping of the traditional scratch card system for checking results is also another positive rebellion by this audacious JAMB helmsman. And the recent drastic reduction in the application fees is a serious relief to sundry admission seekers.
But by far the most remarkable feat by any non-revenue yielding MDA in the country is the remittance by Prof. Oloyede’s JAMB of a whopping sum of N5 billion to the Federal Government coffers in his first year in office and more than N7 billion in the second year! This is indeed praise-worthy, especially in a country where even some MDAs that were specifically established to raise revenue for the government often turn round to ask for extra-budgetary bail-outs from government to supplement their overheads!
By this feat, Prof. Oloyede is just living up to his well-known credentials of administrative acumen, financial discipline and legendary transparency in public service. An erudite Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence and the first ever Unilorin graduate to make a first class degree in the institution, Oloyede became a household name during his tenure as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, having largely succeeded in turning the second generation University into a world class institution. This, he achieved by dint of hard work, resilience, consistency, tenacity of purpose and unparalleled team spirit.
No wonder, shortly after his appointment when some enemies of progress started bad-mouthing the former Unilorin VC, a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Peter Okebukola, boldly came out in his stout defence, saying that “Prof. Oloyede parades excellent credentials to lead a whole sector like education in Nigeria, hence asking him to head just a parastatal in the education sector is like asking a five-star, battle-tested general to quell a fight between two area boys in Ajegunle!”
Indeed, Prof. Oloyede’s trajectory is a study in service excellence, administrative acumen, religious commitment to the achievement of set goals, and unapologetic insistence on fairness for all. This much has been duly acknowledged by dispassionate watchers of his rising profile since he emerged the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, especially with his sterling track records of achievements. Only last year, the New Telegraph newspaper also honoured the JAMB Chief Executive with a prestigious award of excellence.
The University of Ilorin is very proud of this worthy Ambassador of the Better by far institution whose fortune has been intricately interwoven since the past 35 years when he was admitted to study in the University. Not only did he become the first graduate of the institution to finish with the First Class honours degree, he went ahead to become its first alumnus to head the institution at the climax of his academic career.
We heartily salute this erudite scholar that is fast becoming the face of the new Nigeria we all fervently pray and yearn for!
Akogun is the Director of Corporate Affairs, University of Ilorin