BusinessDay

The many battles of Is-haq Oloyede in JAMB

The chances that Is-haq Oloyede will be reappointed as the registrar of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for another five years are narrow. It is unclear the board responsible for university admissions in Nigeria will pick Oloyede given the many battles over transparency he fought in his first term.

Already, Oloyede a professor of Islamic jurisprudence and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin was said to have handed over to the most senior officer in the education agency. Although eligible for reappointment for a second tenure, that can only be done by the Commander In Chief, President Mohammed Buhari whose trip to the United Kingdom for education submit and his routine medical check coincides with the time that Oloyede’s tenure came to an end. It is not immediately clear whether Oloyede’s tenure would be renewed by the President even as some education analysts are of the view that Oloyede has done credibly well in JAMB and therefore deserve a second tenure

Kunle Akogun, director of Corporate Affairs, University of Ilorin bared his mind on Oloyede’s first five years tenure in office as Registrar of JAMB.

‘‘There is no doubt that since his appointment as the Registrar of JAMB five years ago, Is’haq Oloyede has remained one of the most visible poster boys of President Muhammadu Buhari’s war against corruption. The reason is simple: Oloyede has so sanitised the operations of the tertiary institutions’ admission body in five years that it seems that the 44-years old Board had never been in any tangible operational existence before 2016.’’ Akogun said.

Akogun buttressed his view by citing Peter Okebukola a former executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), who recently said that Oloyede’s first term in office has “been marked by unprecedented success”, having elevated the quality of university education in Nigeria by ensuring improved quality of candidates for admission into the university system. According to him, Okebukola added that with 82 innovations in JAMB, Oloyede should be allowed to consolidate the gains of the last five years and see to the completion of his ongoing programmes and projects.

In his opinion, Oloyede should be given a second five-year tenure for the good works he did in JAMB. However, Akogun says there is every tendency he, Oloyede may stick to his gun of not accepting the second tenure offer. To this, he suggests, ‘‘in the unlikely event that Oloyede sticks to his gun, stands his ground and rejects a new term of office, the government will do well to give him the honour and allow him to nominate a trusted successor, who he would trust to sustain his well-thought-out policies for a well-deserved continuity in this very crucial parastatal in the nation’s education sector.’’

Before Oloyede’s tenure, JAMB was a warehouse of corruption and all shades of malpractices. Like cancer, the corruption going on inside JAMB was a Nigerian embarrassment and a nightmare and overwhelming grief to honest and hardworking students who want to study hard but are often frustrated by the corruption within the system. Whether Oloyede’s tenure is renewed or not, one thing is certain. Some institutional reforms carried out by his administration to tame exam malpractices within JAMB are not likely to be revised.

Read also: JAMB holds mop-up UTME for candidates who missed exams August 8

For instance, impersonation which was the order of the day before the coming in of Oloyede has been successfully tamed due to biometric verification of candidates. The same goes for special centres and special candidates’ malady which enables candidates to pre-determine special score grades for their examination with the collaboration of the centres and JAMB accomplices all for ease of malpractice.

These are centres referred to as miracle centres. The recent inclusion of National Identification Number (NIN) as a requirement for registration has further tightened measures against impersonation and this could be largely responsible for the reported poor performance in the last Jamb examination as the result now turns out to be the true reflection of candidates’ unaided performance.

Another battle that Oloyede waged was an internal battle within Jamb staff who were defrauding the exam body and by extension the Federal government through leakages. In May 2018, Oloyede shocked Nigerians when he revealed the level of internal fraud within Jamb.

“Nigeria is dominated by thieves at the helms of affairs, I mean certified thieves; let me talk about JAMB for instance, since over forty years that JAMB has been established, the total money generated before we came in is N52m (Fifty-two million naira)

“After we finished our examinations for 2017, we generated N12bn (9billion), in which I returned the total sum of N7.8b(m) to the Federal Government’’, Oloyede stated.

Just last month, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), arraigned the former Registrar of JAMB at the Federal High Court, Abuja, for alleged N900 million frauds.

A lady staff of the exam board added a comical tragedy to the fraud within Jamb when she confessed to having taken millions of naira belonging to the board but stated that the money was swallowed by a mysterious snake in her apartment.

Early this year, JAMB in its weekly bulletin reported that 17 staff of the Board were under investigation for alleged admission racketeering. Precisely on March 15, 2021, two staff of JAMB were arrested and paraded for defrauding some candidates seeking admission into universities. The arrested staff had reportedly extorted money from Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), candidates with the promise to help them secure admission.

One of the staff arrested explained that he collected N500,000 from four candidates’ parents, out of which he paid N180,000 to a colleague to help facilitate their admission. No doubt, there are other culprits yet uncovered who are perpetrating this same rot. The disturbing fact here is that these atrocities are done at the expense of innocent, hardworking and intelligent students.

With this kind of situation, it becomes rather very difficult for students who are committed to hard work, who are studying on their own without ‘playing the ball’ to conveniently be guaranteed of making the needed score to beat the cut off marks. Because those behind this evil practice will always ensure that their candidates secure the highest scores through the backdoors.

In the words of Oloyede, “admission racketeering is criminal, wicked and unacceptable”, adding that those found aiding and abetting admissions irregularities deserved to be prosecuted and in his first five-year tenure, he practically battled this internal fraud to a standstill.

To Oloyede, if Nigeria truly wants to tackle corruption in high places, examination malpractice must first be fought to a standstill. According to him many corrupt leaders in Nigeria today might have started off on this path through experimenting with examination malpractices. It is a fallacy to think that such individuals would outgrow such acts. This set of individuals mature to something more destructive and demeaning in the long run.

In his five years battle, Oloyede did not spare universities as he stated that most Nigerian tertiary institutions were found guilty of issuing admission letters to candidates without recourse to JAMB.

There is no gainsaying that the need for access to university education has recently become vital in Nigeria as a result of an increase in the population and an awareness of the role of university education in the development of the individual as well as the country.

As part of revenue generation, some universities are known to run expensive programmes for students who could not scale through Jamb and through those back door programmes find their way into the universities.

Funmilayo Ariyo a diploma student of one of the universities in Lagos share her experience.

‘‘I wrote UTME severally without gaining admission and as a way out, instead of being idle at home, my parents asked me to enrol for the diploma course which would help me admission. However, the problem here is the amount we made to pay. The amount of money being charged for the diploma programme is much; I paid N450,000 just for a year programme which does not in a true sense even guarantee my admission’’, Ariyo said.

Victims of JAMB racketeering are increasing in number every day. Brilliant students are given priority attention in countries like Lesotho, Botswana, South Korea, Japan, China and elsewhere in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and in the other parts of the world.

However, the story is different in Nigeria. There are many cases of young Nigerians whose excellence in JAMB have been turned into a curse because of this cankerworm.

Punch on its publication of July 26, shared the unhealthy experiences of many Nigerians after Jamb released the 2021 UTME results. The paper reported that a candidate, Bolu wept profusely when she checked her UTME result and discovered that she scored 122. Her mother, Mrs Ashade, said for three days, she refused to come out of her room, because of the distressing low mark.

Ashade said Bolu was devastated because her dream of studying Nursing Science might not be achievable in the next university admission as many higher institutions of learning would not accept such a mark.

Likewise, one of the numerous parents, who took to social media on the Concerned Parents and Educators Network, Joyce Pine, said, “I am confused; my son scored 210 and he is threatening to kill himself. I am tired of begging him.”

The dirt gushing out from JAMB even before Oloyede leaves one wondering if the house Nigeria built for safety and safeguarded academic process is falling on its citizens. With all efforts made to curb corruption in the system, there are still instances of JAMB examination questions leakages, special centres malady and many other atrocities on the Board.

Boye Ogundele, an educationist believes that Oloyede’s efforts in curbing corruption in JAMB were not fully realised because of the complex nature of Nigerian.

‘‘Actually, the introduction of CBT was good but the implementation has a lot of flaws, for instance, some of the accredited centres were not properly investigated before their endorsement, hence many of them became syndicates.

Besides, the level of ICT compliance in a majority of our states and rural areas were not properly captured. Writing the examination became so difficult because of network issues. Moreover, corrupt officers among the JAMB personnel were not properly screened.’’ Ogundele said.

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