A PROFESSOR’S UNCOMMON COURAGE

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Saturday comment2

It is time to prepare Registrar of JAMB, Ishaq Oloyede for another national assignment, writes Hamidu Danbarewa

There cannot be a realistic assessment of the phenomenal transformation of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) from the typically corruption-ridden and ineffective agency into a pace-setting, technology-driven, malpractice-busting national examining agency without identifying the appointment of its current Registrar, Professor Ishaq Oloyede as the change agent. Similarly, you cannot assess the professor’s uncommon capacity for delivering positive change in isolation from his amazing antecedents in corrective administration.

Those who have been following Professor Oloyede’s remarkable career in administrative management had their eyebrows raised first when he stood out of the ranks of university vice chancellors by sticking out his neck to call the bluff of the notoriously conceited cabal of academic staff of universities by tactfully liberating the University of Ilorin from their anti-academic trade unionism.

The professor’s deft deployment of non-academic engagements in campus survival politics, motivated by a transparent determination to separate the chaff of obsession with unionism from the grains of sustainable existence of a purely academic tertiary institution, blended well into the pent-up frustrations of parents and students over the callous bastardization of the academic calendar by incessant strikes.

By the time the majority of academic staff also rallied round the uncommon vice-chancellor’s courageous liberation agenda, unshackling academia from retrogressive labour extremism, UNILORIN was effectively insulated from the mindless disruption of studies and negation of objectives of a university, resulting from the scourge of ASUU. Professor Oloyede had successfully reset the institution on the course of academic excellence that his eventual departure did not impede or detract from.

As the nation again witnesses the repetition of Professor Oloyede’s highly impactful administrative reformation acumen on JAMB, another literally hijacked institution, now salvaged and restored to optimum functionality in the national interest, with technological advancement as a bonus, it is necessary to adopt this extra-ordinary Nigerian citizen and change agent, as a national ambassador plenipotentiary of reform.

It is worth pointing out that Professor Oloyede’s outstanding track record in fixing problematic institutions is a matter beyond any academic contention or even professional consideration. You only need to refer to the Professor’s CV to notice that his area of specialization is in Arabic Studies, earning a B.A. Arabic (First Class Hons) and Doctorate degree in Islamic Studies from UNILORIN. He was appointed an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Religions of the University and was Vice-Chancellor of the university. Instructively, Professor Oloyede was appointed co – secretary of the National Political Reform Conference in 2005 and in 2006; he was consultant to the National Universities Commission on Educational Reforms in Nigeria. Obviously, the professor’s phenomenal transformative achievements owe a lot to more than the no less impressive contents of his CV.

It is therefore not surprising that Oloyede is already being strongly recommended for a host of post-JAMB reformative assignments, beginning with INEC, which many have candidly compared to pre-Oloyede JAMB, mired in myriad of challenges, at the mercy of mischievous politicians, security agencies and citizens and curiously unwilling to avail itself of technological advances capable of checkmating malpractices. With his astonishingly humble disposition, the professor has confronted and confounded cliques of conspiring parents, exam centre operators, ingenious cheating candidates, professional exam impostors, cheating gadget wizards and snake-accountants. Now everyone seeks JAMB’s cheat-proof exam template, even beyond our shores!

The inclusion of prudence and accountability in the scope of Professor Oloyede’s reform agenda as witnessed in the equally remarkable financial turnaround that saw JAMB comfortably enriching federal coffers with a whopping five billion naira in his first year further highlights the comprehensiveness of the reforms. It provides convincing evidence of the indispensability of good leadership attributes for the much desired national rebirth and enthronement of economic viability and sustainable development. Not only does the professor possess these noble leadership qualities but he demonstrates the significance of readiness to apply them at all times and without compromise in the discharge of his official duties. This is the only way to initiate and cultivate the entrenchment of the culture of good governance and patriotic citizenship.

The most intriguing value-addition in Professor Oloyede’s performance record is the apparently irreversible impact of his reform measures long after he had left the place, as is the case with UNILORIN. His insistence on a “parliamentary” approach to stakeholder input to policymaking has been particularly effective in enriching policies and earning the support and confidence of the stakeholders even as they own up to their misdemeanors.

Professor Oloyede is now a phenomenon in reformatory public service and he should be given every opportunity to extend his coverage to all critical sectors of government and the economy. Once the main inputs of the Oloyede reforms in each sector is compiled into policy guidelines and necessary legislation drafted for the emerging criminalities encountered during the reform process, the professor plenipotentiary’s singular record of performance will become a timeless legacy and reference resource. The nation must now also reach out to identify other Nigerians with credible reputations for similar personal discipline, sincerity in service and impactful contributions wherever they are to expand the frontiers of exemplary leadership in Nigeria. Not to recognize and deploy this God-sent reformer’s sanitizing mission while he is willing and able to contribute is a great disservice to Nigeria.

 Danbarewa wrote from Zaria