If anyone desires to experience the best of humour, pure hilarity, crisp extemporaneousness, witty banter, proverbial sayings in mother tongue interpreted in smooth, current English, stinging verbal missiles at infractors and confrontations laced with facts, figures, even video clips, revelation about hackers doing ‘idobale’ (prostrating) for security officials young enough to be their offspring, harmless verbal salvos at friends, contemporaries, even those in upper stations, pray to be a sideliner at any event at which the current Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, Professor Is-haq Olanrewaju Oloyede, is the presenter. There will definitely not be any dull moments.
The Thursday, December 20, 2018 JAMB and CBT Centre Proprietors meeting preparatory to 2019 tertiary institutions’ admission processes was yet another encounter with Professor Oloyede as a presenter extraordinary. JAMB’s Head of Information, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, kick started that aspect of the series of buildup meetings to the 2019 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, at 9 am prompt – promptitude is one of Oloyede’s stamps on the 40-year-old examination body.
Shortly after protocols, it was the registrar’s turn to direct the affairs through a projectory presentation. The nearly four-hour event generated bursts of hilarity, witty banter and comics of pure genres. What ordnarilly could have been dullish became brightened up as Prof. Oloyede occasionally electrified the audience. Banter was flying in torrents and more often witty remarks softened the severity of some scathing, well annotated offensives.
Owners and managers of the 718 CBT centres spread across the Nigerian terrain, were told that much had been added to their hefty responsibilities and consequently much would be expected from them in order to further enhance the credibility and spectacular integrity of JAMB. The registrar intimated that cyber cafes had being ousted from UTME registration and other processes.
The registrar said the ouster of cyber cafes meant more patronage for the CBT centres which he described as key partners for spreading digital literacy adding that the action against the cafes became necessary in order to stave off sharp practices and extortion of candidates by the unregistered operators who were beyond JAMB’s censure and monitor. For the CBT centres, there can be no hiding place as they were under the board’s surveillance round the clock.
The centres got strict codes of operation and were admonished to painstakingly adhere to them with bountiful returns for their investments in view. Prof.
Oloyede said the lowering of JAMB fee from N5,000 to N3,500 should be complemented by a corresponding CBT centres’ reduction of handling charges from N700 to N500, citing administrative and accounting convenience since the naira abounded in N500 denomination. The decision for downward review of handling fee was however left with the body of CBT centre owners.
The registrar related some exploitative ploys of centre operators and cautioned that infractors would not be spared the rod of deaccreditation, noting that 80% of the centres met the board’s standard during the 2018 exercise while the 20% found wanting was appropriately sanctioned. All centres were asked to eshew operating at half mast as Oloyede pontificated that JAMB would no longer tolerate ‘makeshift centres.’
JAMB would henceforth welcome cubicled computers at each centre while cables connecting the systems must be tuck in to avert pranks by candidates who could step on flying cables to temporarily destabilise their systems. The board also ordered the centre operators to wire their CCTV cameras as remote connections were capable of being manipulated. Oloyede displayed such understanding of the digital world and processes as could make experts in the field green with envy.
The registrar exhibited first rate administrative manouvrability when CBT centre operators unanimously objected to a seven-day ultimatum to complete online network-tests and the appointment of January 3, 2019 as commencement date for the sale of JAMB forms. He skillfully convened an impromtu board meeting (board members were in attendance) which adjusted the ultimatum for the tests and fixed January 10, 2019 for the commencement of the sale of UTME/DE (direct entry) forms. The amazed operators applauded the on-the-spot approval of their request with standing ovation. .
Oloyede’s riposte for a participant hungering for early lunch on the ground that the urge to be punctual at the 9 am meeting at the University of Lagos’ JF Ade. Ajayi Auditorium made them skip breakfast was another episode of satiricalness. He told those hungering, I was one of them, that the lunch pack contains specks of breakfast and elements of diner. Though the pack was rich but hardly met the three-meal claim.
A CBT centre owner who committed minor infractions was challenged openly and when she tried to make a defence, the registrar sought her permission to play back a video clip on his charge. The lady back down.
Another contraventors, a couple, of the criminal hacking genre, were said to have prostrated severally for law enforcement officals during interrogation, asking that the law enforcers temper the severity of their cyber crime. Such is JAMB’s total control and grasp of the activities relating to tertiary institutions’ admission processes and a lesson to others not to enter into the ring with the board.
At a different setting, verbal salvos flew hitting the then sitting Governor Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola of Osun State when the governor stormed the June 26, 2018 JAMB Policy Meeting at Gbongan, Osun State deep into the event. The erudite Professor of Islamic Studies urged the ‘stampeding’ governor and his coterie to tread cautiously thus minding the cables transmitting the event live. The rendition of such serious caution was such that evoked laughter, not opprobrium. Only a man imbued with a rare combination of pure wits and crisp humour could sleekly attain such pathos.
Prof. Oloyede, moderating the December 20 meeting, threw satiric verbal jabs at JAMB Board Chairman, Dr. Emmanuel Ndukwe, from Anambra when a centre from his state was being paloried while he would love to switch state of origin to Anambra when it was the case with another centre from his Ogun State. People in higher stations also came under humourous focus as appropriate. The registrar was simply at his best in a world rarily navigated by mortals. Lessons – do well to earn JAMB’s accolades and please don’t cross the professor’s path when it comes to where he presides, particularly JAMB, to avert being bruised beyond description. At JAMB, there is no escaping the prying lenses of the ubiquitous Central Admissions Processing System, CAPS, which captures all activities relating to admissions.
If facts are sacred and opinion free, Oloyede is a genius of immense proportion. Facts have it that he was the best graduating student of his time at the University of Ilorin, carting away all manners of academic laurels. And it has always been that way whenever he is involved in exercises that test depth of knowledge. Anywhere he goes signposts his hugely imbued sense of humour, knowledge of the issues at hand and unparalleled extemporaneous delivery. This is a humble, though unsolicited, submission.
* Owolabi is a Lagos-based veteran journalist