A Nigerian academic based in the United States of America, Toyin Falola, has praised the Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Is-haq Oloyede, for his probity in running the agency.
Mr Falola, a professor of History at the University of Texas, Austin, USA, spoke on Tuesday at a policy dialogue on corruption in Abuja.
The event was organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in conjunction with the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria.
Speaking on the theme of the dialogue, ‘Corruption, Social Norms and Behaviour Change in Nigeria,’ Mr Falola poured encomium on Mr Oloyede, a professor, for his exemplary leadership at JAMB.
“We must show leadership by example. Where is the Registrar of JAMB, Prof Is-haq Oloyede? Mr Falola asked, prompting the JAMB Registrar to stand up in the crowded ICPC auditorium, the venue of the event.
“I want to dedicate this lecture to Is-haq Oloyede who is here. We don’t have to look for examples. We already have an example,” he said, a rare recognition of top government officials in Nigeria.
Contrary to the widely held norm that public office in Nigeria is for personal enrichment, the renowned US academic said Mr Oloyede “has done his job without benefitting himself; thinking about the nation.”
The scholar added that the JAMB Registrar had endured “insults” for refusing to abuse his office.
“If we have people like him, I am sure we will solve this problem (of corruption),” he said.
Earlier in his address, Mr Falola called for a leadership reorientation in Nigeria to tackle graft.
He warned that failure by the “political elite” to tame political corruption could trigger dire consequences.
The chairperson of ICPC, Bolaji Owasanoye, in his welcome address, stressed the need for change in societal norms that perpetuate corruption.
Mr Owasanoye, a law professor and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said, “Achieving the goal of behavioural change in a society with endemic corruption involves a complex and sometimes a long process…”
He noted that the task before stakeholders is to “disentangle the web of issues involving political, social, economic, religious and ethnic factors that fuel corrupt practices.”
Mr Owasanoye identified societal expectations from peers, networks, groups and communities” as enablers of corruption in public service.
He urged participants at the gathering to dismantle social and cultural norms that pressurise public officials to pilfer public resources.
ICPC investigations had revealed extensive corruption scandals that allegedly took place at JAMB before Mr Oloyede emerged as the head of the examination body.
Mr Oloyede’s predecessor, Dibu Ojerinde, and four of his children, alongside companies linked to them, are being prosecuted by the ICPC for stealing.
In June 2023, the anti-graft agency re-arraigned Mr Ojerinde at the Federal High Court in Abuja after plea bargain talks broke down.
Similarly, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2019 arraigned a JAMB official, Philomina Chieshe, in Makurdi, Benue State, after she claimed a snake swallowed JAMB’s missing N35 million.
Annually, the agency generates billions of naira as proceeds from conducting entry examinations for high school graduates seeking university admissions in Nigeria.
But before Mr Oloyede emerged as the registrar, only a pittance was being remitted to the government from the revenue generated by the organisation.
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