Monday Column by Emmanuel Yawe
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As at the last count, there were over 4000 vacant Board appointments President Buhari is yet to fill.
This figure was given by Sani Zorro an APC member who represents Jigawa in the House of Representatives. Sani Zorro is my friend, former colleague and former comrade whom we used to fight for the oppressed people of Nigeria before he committed class suicide and jumped ship to join the oppressors.
For all his shortcomings, I know one thing for sure; Sani Zorro is not a rumor peddler. What do you expect from a journalist who climbed the Olympian heights of journalism in Nigeria to emerge as the National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ)? Speak the truth and nothing but the truth.
It is sad that this President Buhari whom we all worked very hard to make sure he wins the presidency to replace a corrupt and incompetent government has been in office for over two years and has not been able to appoint people into 4000 sensitive offices in government agencies. How does he hope to deliver on his promise of change? We shall return to that some other day.
Meanwhile, thank God for little mercies. At the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) where he demonstrated an unusual courage and put in place a new Board, we are witnessing miracles. Here again I rely on the testimony of another professional colleague who has jumped ship to join the oppressors – Adamu Adamu – who as Honorable Minister for Education supervises JAMB.
Two months ago, the Minister was reported by the news media to have said that N5 billion had been remitted to the coffers of the Federal Government by the management of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), which is the largest remittance by the board in the last 40 years.
As a newspaper reporter with about 40 years in active service, I will not peddle rumor. Here is how Adamu Adamu was reported in the Nigerian media:
“Since JAMB was established more than 40 years ago, the total amount it has given government was N200 million; but in one year, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede has remitted N5 billion to government. The new JAMB registrar has been correcting many anomalies in the board. Within a year, he has been able to stop all the untold things that were happening there.”
In the past two months, I have made a diligent search in the media for a denial of this report from Adamu Adamu – all in vain. My first conclusion is that the Minister was quoted correctly. My other conclusion is also that he gave an accurate account of what Prof. Ishaq Oloyede is doing at JAMB.
Last week Prof Ishaq Oloyede himself came out to give his report card on what he has been doing since President Buhari gave him the chance to serve as the Registrar of JAMB about a year ago. The occasion was a critical stake holders meeting with the following members in attendance: National Assembly, Educational Institutions/Regulatory Agencies, CBT Centres (Public and Private), Parents (NAPTAN), Teachers (ANCOPSS), Candidates, Labour (ASUU/ASUP/COESU/NASU), Students (NANS), Civil Society groups and Media. That Ishaq Oloyede is able to assemble this crowd of stakeholders to discuss the problems of university admission in Nigeria is in itself a novel innovation worthy of praise.
He told the meeting that at the time his appointment came in August 2016, the programme of activities for 2017 had begun and all he tried to do was to take the driver’s seat without derailing a moving train. Even then, he renegotiated the then subsisting service agreements “with the aim of having the best deal for the Nation, doing what is right and earning God’s pleasure”. By this effort alone, he was able to bring down the production cost of the Board per annum by Two Billion Naira.
This achievement came at a high cost because there were various efforts to subvert and sabotage the new prudent order. In his words “We can understand the shock and pains of both internal and external beneficiaries of the old order but the bulls must be taken by the horns and the time is now”.
Today, Ishaq Oloyede has taken full control of JAMB after going through the teething problems of his midway start of last year. He has already put in place some measures to improve the performance of JAMB in the 2018 admission exercise. These include the creation of a profile by each applicant and purchasing of PIN before the commencement of application; the abolishing of scratch card system and introduction of the Vending of PIN system which has the advantages of security, fraud proof and eliminates hoarding through its elastic variable.
The new management has made the purchase of application documents easier by opening it up to all licensed banks in Nigeria and the Nigeria Postal Service and allowed Interswitch and System Spec (Remita) to participate so as to allow parents and candidates who may wish to use their ATM/Credit/Debit Cards to purchase PIN.
To further ease registration, the Board has improved on the technology available by introducing a new system that is capable of configuring 100 registration points at the same time and provided each center with a Router capable of carrying out the multiple registrations. In addition, the ten thousand Naira charge for each access point has been abolished making it free.
Prof Oloyede also briefed members on the arrangements to introduce electronic jammers at all computer based centers and improve services for foreign, blind candidates and those in prisons in this year’s exercise.
These new innovations which are aimed at improving service delivery at JAMB were not arrived at by unilateral decisions of the Board. They are products of delicate consultations between the board and the relevant stake holders such as mobile money operators, banks and other financial service providers, service providers such as (MTN, AIRTEL, GLO) and Technical Advisors and also with Proprietors of Computer Based centers.
It is in full agreement with these stakeholders that the sale of application documents will start this week, November 22 and end January 22 2018, a full two months period in place of the normal one month.
Thus without blowing his trumpet, Prof Ishaq Oloyede is quietly blazing a trail of selfless and prudent service at JAMB. He adds credit to this government. If only President Buhari had the spleen of appointing men and women of such timber and caliber like Prof Oloyede in the vacant 4000 Board positions, the story of his government would have been a lot different.