Oloyede: When integrity still counts

It was yet another recognition of excellence on Thursday, November 28, when Prof. Is’haq Olanrewaju Oloyede, walked up the dais to receive the prestigious National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM) award from President Muhammadu Buhari.

Prof. Oloyede, a former vice-chancellor of the University of Ilorin and current registrar and chief executive officer of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), is one of the 26 eminent Nigerians that were given the NPOM award at the well-attended ceremony. The award, organised by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, was in recognition of the honorees’ sterling contributions to national development through their high productivity, hard work and service excellence.

The award, coming on the heels of a special parliamentary commendation for the erudite professor of Islamic jurisprudence during his budget defence appearance at the National Assembly recently, is a veritable acknowledgement of Oloyede’s dexterity in the management of human and financial resources. At that budget defence session, the lawmakers, who ordinarily are not known for flattering public officials who appear before them for that kind of business, momentarily held their signature scurrilous tongues and took turns to shower superlative encomiums on this new breed of a Nigerian who has brought numerous innovations to the operations of JAMB since he mounted the Board’s leadership mantle a little over three years ago.

The high-flying, record-setting, cerebral former vice-chancellor of the University of Ilorin had, earlier in the year, received two awards from two national newspapers – The Sun and Leadership — within a space of two weeks.

On January 25, the Lagos-based The Sun newspaper conferred on him the “Public Service Award for 2018” for being “an exemplary public servant with zero tolerance for corruption”, “setting up a new order of transparency in the running of JAMB”, and “tremendously improving the activities of the government agency by remitting billions of naira to the coffers of the federal government from the sale of forms and other services”.

And barely two weeks later, on February 7, another leading national newspaper, Abuja-based 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”.

It is a thing of personal joy for those of us who know this erudite scholar intimately that 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, 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 three 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.

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, 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.

Indeed, 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.

One is very proud of this worthy ambassador of the Better by far University, whose fortune has been intricately interwoven with that of the university since the past 35 years when he was admitted to study in the institution. Not only did he become the first graduate of the university 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.

For sure, this erudite scholar is fast becoming the face of the new Nigeria we all fervently pray and yearn for! His entire life is full of lessons for incumbent and aspiring leaders. For, herein lies a glorious future for our country. Congratulations, Prof. on this latest award. More are the way!

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