By Angula Jessica
Computers are magnificent tools for the realization of our dreams, but no machine can replace the human spark of spirit, compassion, love, and understanding. – Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.
Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculations Board (JAMB) Professor Ishaq Oloyede needs no introduction. There are members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) ready to give him free publicity any day – most recently they added his name to a petition sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Before then they have tried to block his appointment to his current position by President Muhammadu Buhari.
As the saying goes that a person’s good works attest for them even in their absence, the entire drama put up by the ASUU members could not dissuade President Buhari to pass on the rare opportunity of getting one of the best hands the country has to offer to take JAMB to the next level.
I was one of those that hailed the progress at JAMB under the leadership of Professor Dibu Ojerinde and had thought at that time that not much could be achieved afterwards. How wrong was I. Professor Oloyede brought the Midas Touch he had used to transform the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) and has within the shortest time demonstrated that innovation is continuous.
He has proven to be the father of Computer Based Testing as his antecedent at UNILORIN has confirmed. The JAMB Registrar, I later came to know, grew the capacity of that university ICT hub from mere two buildings derived from a partnership with a private firm to a capacity that now has six halls and the capacity to enable 1500 students simultaneously take examinations. It did not end there as the university can also remotely connect with peers all over the world.
Building infrastructure for CBT is however not enough to give accolades to a man but as the opening quote showed, Professor Oloyede is not an automaton even when he is given to innovation. He has what the best machine cannot give. He has that endless flow of human spark of spirit, he has unrivalled compassion, loves fellow humans and has understanding that immediately endears him as a role model.
No wonder, instead of joining issues with ASUU members, he took his time to school them on the intricacies of running a tertiary institution that conforms with contemporary standards. While he held sway at UNILORIN, his leadership style, I have come to learn is the one of prompt response to students issues while the wellbeing of staff is not allowed to suffer.
He believes in hands on experience and never shied from impacting same on the students as can be seen by the many projects that allowed UNILORIN students practice what they learnt like the FM station that allowed student broadcast for 24 hours daily.
The JAMB Registrar has also proven to be a man with interest in the future generations, initiating projects that will outlive the present while delivering benefits to those that are yet unborn.
This explains why the University’s Webometrics rating soared to the best in Africa courtesy of the groundwork that Professor Oloyede did.
It was to his credit that examination malpractice was completely eradicated owing to his watchful eyes and strictly disciplinary measures within the time he was at the helm of affairs. One can thus imagine the value added for Nigerian tertiary schools when he fully implements such measures against cheating in the unified entrance examination. Definitely, an immediate impact would be improvement in the quality of undergraduates since those that cannot perform without cheating would be weeded out.
His current innovations that have brought about sanity, peace and tranquility are worthy of mention. His anti corruption drive which has brought an end to the duplicity and exploitative scratch cards for candidates while also halting the frittering away of funds realized from the sales. Confidence has been restored in the system especially now that candidates have control of how they interact with the examination body right from their phones using USSD codes.
These landmark achievements notwithstanding, there are those who remain envious and would rather band together under any umbrella to cause mischief, including exploiting the platform of ASUU. But, if Professor Oloyede is ASUU’s nightmare, then he is the doyen of Nigerian students, leaders of tomorrow who have a lot to learn from his exemplary leadership whether from his stint at UNILORIN or his current assignment at JAMB.
Angula writes from the United Kingdom.