…How He Earned His Place in Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Train

Professor Is’haq Olanrewaju Oloyede, the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) became famous as a high-performing Vice-Chancellor of University of Ilorin (Unilorin). As the vice-chancellor, Oloyode pursued academic excellence as though his whole life depended on it. Consequently, Unilorin became one of the most sought-after institutions by candidates seeking admission into tertiary institutions in the country. Needless to say Unilorin’s ranking among world universities at the time soared on the wings of the academic excellence Oloyode built.

Many believe that it was Oloyede’s performance at Unilorin that earned him the appointment as Registrar/Chief Executive Officer of JAMB by former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016. Whether that was the case or not, Oloyede’s performance at JAMB so far has shown that his public rating as an exceptionally high-performing leader is not a fluke. Right from the onset, he left no one in doubt about his mission and vision to set JAMB on a path of honour, dignity, and excellence.

The primary mandate of JAMB is to conduct examinations for admission into Nigerian tertiary educational institutions. For years, since inception in 1978, JAMB’s reputation had gone to the mud like other notoriously corrupt and thoroughly mismanaged national institutions, some now extinct – NEPA, NITEL, WAEC, NNSL, Nigeria Airways – where nothing works and many prone to sabotage from within and without. The media used to be awash with reports of cases of JAM exam malpractices. These took the form of multiple registrations, manipulation of biometrics, collusion of some private CBT centres with parents, impersonation, deliberate disruption of the examination process and syndicate of adjacent centres in examination. There were also cases of padding of results by JAMB candidates desperate to benefit from scholarships made available to those with the highest scores every year.

But as Chief Executive Officer of JAMB, Oloyede has relentlessly and avowedly pursued academic excellence by ensuring that admission into tertiary institutions in Nigeria is transparent and credible.

JAMB, under the leadership of Oloyede, returned the sum of N3.51 billion to the national treasury as an operating surplus in 2021. This remittance to the national treasury has been the standard practice since 2016 when Oloyede remitted the sum of N7billion to the nation’s coffers. He is quietly and steadily leading a revolution in the Nigerian educational system with the objective of implanting academic excellence especially at the tertiary level of education in the country.

The revolution Oloyede is leading ensures that no candidate without the requisite academic qualifications gets admission to any tertiary institution in the country. He is achieving this by conducting very credible, transparent, and fraud-free Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and by ensuring that admission into tertiary institutions in Nigeria is based on merit above any other consideration.

“One of the government institutions that has gained national prominence in the last few years in the course of discharging its statutory responsibilities is the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board,” NEXTMONEY wrote recently in a cover story on Oloyede. “What has given JAMB this national prominence is its efficient public service delivery in not just the conduct of fraud-free Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) into tertiary institutions but also the transparency and accountability it exhibits in the running of its operations.”

No less a personality than President Tinubu has given a public testimonial to Oloyede for his outstanding leadership. Speaking through Vice President Kashim Shettima recently during a public engagement organised by the Economic and Financial CrimesCommission (EFCC), the President said: “One person I always respect is Prof Ishaq Oloyede. Over the years, JAMB never made up to $1m for the Federal Government. However, when Prof Oloyede assumed office, JAMB made over ₦5bn for the Federal Government in one year.”

Prof. Oloyede was born on 10 October 1954, in Ogun State. He had his secondary education from 1969–1973 at the Progressive Institute, Agege, Lagos and learned Arabic and Islamic Studies between 1973–1976 at the Arabic Training Centre Agege, Lagos. He obtained a certificate in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Ibadan in 1977 and a B.A. in Arabic at the University of Ilorin in 1981. In July 1982 he was appointed an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Religions of the University. In 1991, he had his Doctorate degree in Islamic Studies also from the University of Ilorin.

Oloyede earned several scholarships and prizes during his student days, notable among which were the Arab League prize for the best final year Certificate student in Arabic and Islamic Studies in 1977 at the University of Ibadan; Federal Government undergraduate merit award from 1979 to 1981; Department of Religions Award, University of Ilorin, 1981 and Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Award, Unilorin, also in 1981.

Oloyede attained the rank of Professor in 1995 and was elected Vice Chancellor of his alma mater, University of Ilorin, in 2007 for a term of five years, during which the university became highly-ranked among the best in Africa and the most sough-after university in Nigeria.

Oloyede also served as the Chairman of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities and Committee of Vice-Chancellors between 2011–2012. At the international level, he has held several distinguished positions. Between 2009–2011, he was the president of the Association of African Universities (AAU). Other positions include: Deputy Chairman of the Governing Board of the International Association of Universities (IAU) [2008 – 2011]; and Secretary-General, Association of West African Universities (AWAU) [2013 – 2017]. In 2015, he was appointed the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the 3rd Governing Council of Fountain University, Nigeria.

In 2005, he was appointed by President Olusegun Obasanjo as Co-Secretary of the National Political Reform Conference. In 2006, he was appointed as consultant by the National Universities Commission on Educational Reforms in Nigeria. Oloyede became the National Coordinator and Executive Secretary of the National Inter–Religious Council (NIREC) in 2007. Since 2013, he has been the Secretary-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA).

In 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as the Registrar of JAMB.