With Innovations, We Have Braved the Odds, Says JAMB Registrar

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In this interview with Funmi Ogundare, the Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, Professor Is’haq Olanrewaju Oloyede gave his score card in the last two years and emphasised on the innovative efforts the board has taken to protect the sanctity of its examinations

In the course of carrying out your duty some of your staff were bent on frustrating your efforts through corrupt practices , what efforts did you take to stem the tide?

It’s so amazing having the kind of staff I met on ground in JAMB. All the success stories about JAMB today are made possible because of their sacrifices, support and the believe in the vision we have for the future of the board. This is not to say that there are no one or two bad eggs, the good news is that through exemplary leadership, we have shown that business is no longer as usual. We have shown such compromising staff the way out and we are ever determined to throw out any staff who decides to be an obstacle to our resolve for an improved JAMB. Bringing orderliness to an organisation is not all about punishment, punishment is secondary.

What we are doing is leading by example, once people know your motive in an organisation they automatically set their own. Once your motives are transparent, national and inclusive, you will see people following your determination willingly and if it’s otherwise, you would just be deceiving yourself as they would do everything to compromise the system. Punishment is secondary however, we have equally not shy away from it as the board punishes when necessary and reward in equal dimension. But the turning point in our dream today is technology. We have taken full advantage of technology to put solid security, ensure transparency and create equity, fairness and inclusiveness of all stakeholders to all stages of the process.

Your board took a number of measures and initiatives driven by technology to restore confidence in your examinations and reduce the time gap between the conduct of the examination and release of result, have you ever faced any threats from any quarter as a results of this?

What we are today known for is an agency preoccupied with innovations. Hardly does any year passes without us doing something completely new. We follow candidates behavior especially as it affects the sanctity of our examination and other processes. Once we discover efforts been made by candidates to compromise any of our processes, we introduce new innovations to fortify the process. This way our system has never been under any threat.

Timely release of results are no special achievements, we can release early and sometimes delay to ensure proper scrutiny. Either way, the sanctity of the examination is not compromised. Sometimes, results are released early to please the yearning of the public, it is always better to clear all loose ends before it is released rather than releasing and having challenges.

You recently marked two years in office, what would you say has been your biggest achievement?

My greatest achievement is the transformation of staff of the board to experts in virtually everything that was hitherto done by service providers. As it stands today, the staff can do all activities from registration to examination, release of results to admissions without having recourse to anybody. I was appointed to make a difference in line with the present administration vision of transparency and accountability. It is my desire that JAMB becomes a world class agency and a cynosure for all. This prompted me on assumption of duty to roll out a five point agenda which form the fulcrum and driving force of our modest achievements. The five point agenda were welfare, discipline, technology, transparency and networking.

The five point agenda are like our code of engagement and guiding principles. We have to entrench culture of doing things right at all times and for right purpose, we institutionalised in-house training, upgrade the standard of the board’s facilities and accredited new centres for the Computer Based Test(CBT), as well as brought the services to the door steps of every Nigerian desirous of qualitative education. The board has curbed examination malpractices and has restored the integrity and sanctity of the examination. I also want to put it on record that within the two year review, we have conducted the first mock ever in the history of the board at no cost. The mock is a make shift examination to enable the board test all its infrastructure and get the candidates familiar with the system with a view to conducting a hitch free examination. The establishment of two separate virtual private networks working with the telecoms; one for registration exercises and the other for the examination.

The VPNs replaced expensive cumbersome and old VSAT technologies hitherto used for the examination. Without been immodest, the two year also witnessed the introduction of Central Admission Processing system (CAPS), which is to automate the admission process with a view to eliminating human interference, make the process credible, sustainable, reliable and allow every stakeholder to partake in the admission process. The year under review also witnessed introduction of Integrated Brochure and Syllabus System (IBASS), a platform on the board where stakeholder can manage or utilise the syllabus. It is also a pre-registration exercise to streamline the syllabus, subject combination for easy registration and course combination for candidates, regulators and the board. JAMB also ensured that centres are standardised or upgraded to a uniform standard of 250 system with 25 back ups from 120 system that some centres had. The abolition of scratch card with e-pin to stop corruption associated with card system was one major eye opener. So many innovations happened that I can’t mention all.

So far you have remitted to government coffers the sum of N15.6billion as against the N3million annually remitted by your predecessor, what was your driving force towards achieving this feat?

There is no driving force other than doing the right thing. This money is not my money and I don’t have government approval to keep it. All I did was to comply with government’s directive to return to the coffers of government any excess revenue. I hear people ask why is am I returning money! Perhaps, they would have preferred I steal it, but unfortunately, I am not a thief and the only right and natural thing to do, is to give back the money to its owner. People think I will be discouraged with the kind of unfortunate comments over the remittance, no way. Oloyede would not take what does not belong to him. I will continue to make returns as long as I have excesses.

In the course of remitting this amount were you at any point tempted to keep part of the money?

Temptation! No, not at all, what is not your own is not your own. I don’t feel as if I have returned anything because to me, it was never my money. I have grown above been tempted by money. I am a very contented somebody. God has given me everything I needed and what is left is for me to make heaven. I will continue to work hard towards making heaven and would not be distracted by such trivialities.

Do you have any regrets considering the steps you have taken so far to move the agency forward?

I have no regret serving my father land. I consider it a privilege to be chosen out of millions of Nigerians to be given such a position.

At a point, some sections of the academia were complaining about your style of administration regarding the cut-off marks for Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME), what is your view on this?

JAMB does not determine cut-off marks, cut-off marks are arrived at unanimously during policy meeting chaired by the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu. It has nothing to do with the registrar of JAMB. JAMB meets with the heads of tertiary institution and other stakeholders, with the minister of education chairing the meeting to arrive at the minimum point to be used for admission.

Institutions determine their marks based on their peculiarities, but what we arrive at, during the policy meeting is a national cut-off mark, which they cannot go below. Remember there are other pruning mechanisms. National cut-off mark is just one of it. It is a minimum benchmark and it doesn’t mean that once you have it, you are admitable.

What make JAMB thick?

The desire to do the right thing makes the board tick.