Oloyede: Charismatic leadership in the sun

Since his assumption of office as Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) on August 8, 2016, Prof. Is-haq Olanrewaju Oloyede has left no one in doubt, including the doubting Thomases, about his prodigious administrative acumen, robust intellect, keen vision, transparent honesty and the sheer capacity to organise men and materials for outstanding results.

In the Nigerian space where public service is largely synonymous with self-service, Prof. Oloyede has remained constant as one of the exceptional few who are passionate about their jobs, patriotic to the Nigerian nation and conscious of the fact that leadership is not a destination but a process.

This conviction about leadership being a process of continuous work has impassioned Prof. Oloyede’s commitment such that to him, hard work is a religious duty. He would therefore leave no stone unturned, no depth unfathomed and no horizon unexplored in the quest to make a difference as a charismatic leader.

In charismatic leadership, the leader manifests revolutionary power by transforming not only the system but also people’s values and beliefs. And so much has JAMB been transformed under this charismatic personality that the Board has now become synonymous with probity, integrity and excellence, a body being consulted these days by respectable organisations within and outside Nigeria on their internal examinations.

It is therefore natural that awards and recognitions have been trailing JAMB as the exceptional leadership it has remains visible in the sun for people, including the blind, to appreciate and imbibe from. This year alone, in January and February, two major newspapers in two consecutive weeks in two major cities have garlanded the astute former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin and ex-President of the Association of African Universities, along with the Board he heads, with their awards.

Specifically, at a colourful programme in Lagos, The Sun newspapers conferred the “Public Service Award for 2018” on Prof. Oloyede on January 25, 2019 because, according to the editors, he is “an exemplary public servant with zero tolerance for corruption…setting up a new order of transparency in the running of the agency” as a man of “sterling achievements.”

Besides, JAMB in the current dispensation was celebrated by Leadership newspapers as “Leadership Government Agency of the Year 2018” at a well-attended programme in Abuja on February 7, 2019. In conferring the award on JAMB, the newspaper noted that “JAMB had been a cesspool of corruption for a long time but nobody knew…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.”

What the two recognitions in the new year aptly symbolise is that JAMB cannot afford to be complacent because it is under the sun, in the glaring view of Nigerians who expect the examination body to consolidate on its recent gains, continue to reinvent itself to achieve more success now and lay a solid foundation for the future.

It is in furtherance of the meticulous planning, innovative management and exceptional leadership that JAMB seeks to make the 2019 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) the best in its annals. At a meeting held on March 18, 2019 with the critical stakeholders on its strategic planning and preparation for the supervision and administration of the 2019 UTME, the Registrar tasked all on the rules and regulations guiding the conduct of the exams.

Though the exams are to begin on April 11, 2019, with the mock exams scheduled for April 1, the quality of preparation made and the vibrancy of the various stakeholders mobilised to ensure the success of the examinations easily accentuated the centrality of proper planning, which prevents poor performance, in the operations of the examination body. For Prof. Oloyede, who once was the Chairman of all Directors of Academic Planning in Nigerian Universities, the success or failure of any enterprise is proportional to the quality of planning that precedes it.

Speaking for about five hours explaining the processes, discussing the procedures, addressing questions and engaging with the stakeholders, in his characteristic resort to native intelligence and rich Yoruba idiom in marshaling his points, what was palpable was the passion, the seriousness and commitment with which Prof. Oloyede takes his responsibility. For the JAMB Registrar, the mischievous proverb that public service is not done with sweat does not hold water. He is driven to sweat and exert himself in order to achieve desired results based on the high bar of excellence he has set for himself.

At the meeting, it was obvious that those who plan to cheat under any guise should have a change of mind in their own interest. JAMB has itself got acquainted with the various innovations in the art of cheating and acquired alternative capacities to detect and forestall malpractice. As it is said that it is today’s dog that can successfully hunt today’s hare, JAMB has invested in research and development such that for every trend in cheating technology or artistry that candidates, in cahoots with the operators of the multi-billion naira industry “miracle centres”, come up with, JAMB has introduced a counter-measure to checkmate such fraud.

For instance, JAMB has unique information of each candidate’s registration data, the centre that did the registration, the person who did it, the computer used and the location of the registration. The measures put in place would definitely engender the credibility of the examinations such that the results obtained by each candidate will be a true reflection of his or her ability, not some wuruwuru anywhere.

Based on the threat of identity fraud, from 2019 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME), every candidate will pass through the Biometric Verification Machine (BVM) as the only authentic register and admittance requirement to the examination venue. Anyone who cannot be biometrically verified will not be allowed to sit the exam and on no account will the manual verification be allowed, based on experience, it was stated.

With his “leadership” shinning brilliantly in “the sun” to the admiration of all and sundry, including the two newspapers earlier mentioned, there is little doubt that by the time Prof. Oloyede is done with JAMB, universities will themselves find no need for post-UTME again as confidence would have been restored based on the validity, reliability and credibility of the UTME as well as the correlation of JAMB results with actual student performance.