8 February 2018

Nigeria: JAMB and the Quest for Good Governance

By now, the most concerned parties in the annual UTME must have come to terms with the unrelenting tenacity of the Oloyede-led JAMB in detecting and scuttling "smart cheating" tactics across the examination environment. While the criminal ingenuity of the examined remains highly adventurous, the examiner's curiosity is on steroids and the intrigued observer must continue to suffer the doubled challenge of concentration in keeping a tab on the duel.

In its latest mutation, the Oloyede bug has plagued its tormentors further by going to the ultimate extent of convening a "Strategic Retreat on Smart Cheating and Counter Measures" with the declared objectives "to build a repository and archives of technology devices and methods in use for examination practices to serve as reference and build awareness, identify and profile all possible threats of technology supported examination malpractices, develop effective counter measures to detect, deter and prevent use of these technology devices and methods for cheating in the Board's examinations, and continuously update information about the technology devices and methods and make it available to relevant officials and stakeholders to equip them with the knowledge and skills to protect the credibility of the board's examinations". Of course the select participants were experts from within and outside the country with some members of the Board's top Management! As in the Igbo proverb, the bird has learnt to fly without perching to avoid the sharp-shooting hunters.

At the last gathering of major stakeholders hosted by JAMB last month, to which two former ministers and past JAMB Registrars were invited, there was an infectious tendency not just to admit an admiration for JAMB's daring departures from the drab culture of "decadent paralysis "(bless Tunji Braithwaite's soul)that pervades public service since Professor Oloyede took control, but to absorb doses of confidence building optimism about the feasibility of reversing the trajectory to terminal failure too often ascribed to our fatherland. If the deep-rooted, multi-faceted and self-propelled plague of examination malpractice can actually be tactically contained so intelligently by an institution hitherto at wit's end just by a forensic selection of chief executive officer, pray, which national challenge cannot be effectively addressed and overcome?

There is no better insight into the purpose, rationale and impact of the Oloyede leadership and human resource management approach than the one he gave in his opening address at the last Stakeholders Meeting. He said stakeholders' meetings and other forms of engagement have become "a most potent strategic platform to share and validate the Board's vision, solicit and obtain feedbacks and input, ensure buy-in of critical stakeholders and generally exchange information and create awareness. More importantly, the professor, while appreciating the involvement of stakeholders in JAMB's policy-formulating process, emphasized that "your efforts are not just in support of JAMB, or the Tertiary Education System, together, we are contributing our own quota to the task of building our dear country, Nigeria."

Though some startled observers of the remarkable pace-setting, myth-shattering track record of Professor Oloyede in UNILORIN have been further swayed by his awesome exploits at JAMB to give a magical or messianic hue to his coat of many colours, participants at his stakeholders' meetings see the very human attributes he deploys with very down-to-earth simplicity and candour as his all-embracing talisman. Carrying everyone that matters along eases the burden of leadership both in policy formulation and delivery of effective programmes tailored to fit specifications while accountability is a done deal. In a peculiar form of de-personification of achievement, the miracle-working Professor enjoys basking under the shared limelight of joint effort.

As the UTME takes on annual trends of extending frontiers of success in terms of not just outsmarting the smart cheats but also easing the processes for candidates, curbing the excesses of CBT centre operators and generally enhancing the credibility and integrity of JAMB and its examinations, Professor Oloyede continues to expose the larger picture of national malaise and eroded moral values exhibited by various other actors in the examination arena such as parents who would purchase unearned marks for their wards for "any amount", university administrators cashing in on the rat race for paper qualifications and randy invigilators.

The recent achievements of JAMB have attracted the keen interest and patronage of new institutions and organizations where credible examinations are no less critical but just as bastardized. They have reported positive outcomes with the adoption of Professor Oloyede as chief examiner backed by the versatile vigilance and uncompromising principles of his JAMB management team. Makes me wonder whether there is any area of national leadership concern or "decadent paralysis" that this extraordinary Nigerian corrective taskforce cannot make the difference we so earnestly seek but may never get? If only JAMB could get INEC's nod... ..!

Danbarewa wrote this piece from Kaduna


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