Opinion

Oloyede: Audacity of integrity, service excellence

 

By Kunle Akogun

It was yet another recognition of excellence on Thursday, November 28,
2019, when Nigeria’s Paragon of Integrity, 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 developmentthrough 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 Prof. 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 25,2019, 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, 2019, 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 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
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.
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, more than N7 billion in the second year and an amount in
the same range in the third 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.
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.
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!
*Akogun is the Director of Corporate Affairs,  University of Ilorin

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