On Sunday, March 11, 2018, some Muslim leaders under the aegis of Muslims in National Development (MIND) gathered at the Protea Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos to honour three Muslim personalities who have made Islam proud through their various callings.
However, Professor Is-haq Olanrewaju Oloyede, the current Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) was evidently the cynosure of all eyes at the event. This is not surprising, going by his unprecedented performance and the unmatched transformation he has brought into the operations of the 40 year-old examination body, within less than two years of his assumption of office. In a nutshell, the reception was principally about him.
Before I proceed on who this enigma called Oloyede is, it is important that I write about the two co-honourees: First is Dr Mustapha Alimi, famously known as “Alimi E-l-e-gun” (Alimi the Bone Setter), the Yoruba epithet for a top-notch Orthopaedic Surgeon. I have heard a lot about him (not in the media though) from brethren who testified to his Islamic activism. He is currently the Chairman, Islamic Medical Association of Nigeria (IMAN), Lagos State Branch.
When my first surgery failed in 2016 after almost a year of recuperation, he facilitated my admission to the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos where I had a successful operation, without even knowing me. He was then a Consultant Spine Surgeon, but he was recently elevated to the position of the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, which is Nigeria’s best Trauma Centre.
His Eminence, Sheikh Sulaiman Abou Nolla was the second co-honouree, though he was unavoidably absent at the event. He is the youngest Chief Imam to be appointed by the leadership of the Lagos Central Mosque, the beehive of Islamic activism in Nigeria.
His appointment came at a time when Nigerians are clamouring for youths to take over the mantle of leadership, with the hashtag #NotTooYoungToRun. Perhaps the breeze is gradually visiting the religious circles, as this was one of the burning issues that sprang up during the discussion on the theme: Muslims and Nation Building, delivered by Justice Wale Abiru JCA and Professor AbdulLateef Adetona of LASU at the event.
Prof Oloyede: A Man Of All Moments
One of Oloyede’s protégés, Dr Mahfouz Adedimeji, Associate Professor and immediate past Director of the Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ilorin, succinctly captured the personality of Prof Oloyede in the citation he wrote and read at another occasion to honour his boss. It is titled: A Man of All Moments, and it reads in part:
Birth And Background
Is-haq Olanrewaju Oloyede was on October 10, 1954 ushered into the world through the family of late Alhaji and late Madam Oloyede in Abeokuta, Ogun State. He started his formal education at Ta’limul Islam Ahmadiya Primary School in 1961, after which he proceeded to Progress Institute, Agege, where he bagged his First School Leaving Certificate with Distinction in 1969. He perfected his training as an Arabist at the famous Arabic Training Centre (Markaz), between 1973 and 1976.
His insatiable quest for knowledge took him to the University of Ibadan, where he bagged a Certificate in Arabic and Islamic Studies, while his passion for higher learning brought him to the University of Ilorin in 1978, where he graduated as Best Graduating Student in 1981. The University of Ilorin thereafter engaged him as an Assistant Lecturer in 1982, and he subsequently obtained his higher degrees in 1985 and 1991, rising through the ranks in the process till his emergence as the first Unilorin graduate to become a Professor in 1995.
Awards And Honours
This man of unimpeachable integrity has received several awards and honours in his dazzling and inspiring career and he is a member of many professional bodies. He is a recipient of the Arab League Prize for the Best Certificate Student in Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Ibadan; recipient of Merit Award by Islamic Mission of Africa, proprietors of Crescent University, Abeokuta; Fellow, Islamic Academy of Cambridge, United Kingdom; Fellow, Academy of Religion; Fellow, Society for Peace Studies and Practice; Fellow, Academy for Entrepreneurial Studies, Nigeria; Fellow, Nigerian Institute of Management; and Fellow, Nigerian Academy of Letters.
Scholarship And Training
A true scholar to the core, Oloyede is a keen advocate of training and in this respect, he leads by example, as the prodigy is never ashamed of being a student. He obtained his Postgraduate Diploma in Education just in 2003 and became a Certified Teacher courtesy the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria in 2005. Between 1994 and 1995, he received Special Proficiency Training on Information and Communication Technology at the International Centre for Communication Art and capped his ICT proficiency with a Certificate in Advanced Digital Appreciation Programme – Tertiary (ADAPT) at the International Centre for Communication Studies and the Digital Bridge Institute, Abuja in 2007.”
As Unilorin V.C.
This distinguished gentleman has served the University of Ilorin, Kwara and Ogun States and indeed the Federal Republic of Nigeria in several capacities. His achievements are so many and etched on stone that recounting them will fill several pages.
Yet, it would be unfair to the University of Ilorin and its alumni if it is not mentioned that when this illustrious graduate of the University was the Vice-Chancellor, the University was taken to such an Olympian height that Vice-Chancellors visited him regularly to understudy him.
Within a period of five years, this great man of honour took the University of Ilorin from being an unranked University to one of the best 20 in Africa, according to international ranking agencies.
Not only did Oloyede take the University of Ilorin to its apogee, he also electrified the global university system with his sterling leadership qualities and high-octane administrative acumen. No other Nigerian Vice-Chancellor has achieved being Chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors (CVC)/Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU); President of the Association of African Universities (AAU); and Board Member of both the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and International Association of Universities (IAU), all within a five-year tenure, apart from being the initiator of the Association of West Africa Universities (AWAU) through the Ilorin Declaration.
As JAMB Registrar
His appointment as Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) in 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari was trailed with controversies. There were allegations from the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) that his five-year term as the VC, Unilorin was marred with fraud, anti-democratic and anti-union antecedents among others. Some elements even branded him a religious bigot, largely due to his religious engagement via the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), an umbrella body for Nigerian Muslims, where he is Secretary-General.
The plot, no doubt, was to frustrate him into resigning, but he didn’t fall for their antics. If he had resigned, his transformation agenda for JAMB would have become a mirage. Nobody knew that JAMB made so much money – and remitted almost nothing – until Prof Oloyede remitted N7.8 billion to the Federal Government coffers from the 2016 University and Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) for the time in the history of the institution, a single fiscal year span. We need to juxtapose this achievement of his with that of his predecessors, who remitted only N50 million between 2000 and 2015, a 15-year span.
Oloyede has brought tremendous improvements to the operations of JAMB and from all indications, it keeps getting better despite challenges. He spoke with Daily Independent about his drives for change, which he described as guidance from Almighty Allah.
He said: “It’s about operating a system as capably as possible, because if you want to do something and you have no capability to do it or you have an unfriendly environment, it would be difficult. You are operating within a system that does not tolerate corruption anymore. It would take a devil to go the other way by promoting corruption in a system where it is forbidden. I believe there might be devils and they must be identified and dealt with. We are now in an environment conducive for doing things properly.”
The Money-Swallowing Snake
Of course, he also reacted to the money-swallowing snake, an incident which happened 3 to 4 years ago, during the tenure of his predecessor, well before his appointment as Registrar.
He said: “It is because many of us enjoy what is not real and what is negative. A case that has happened years back is being cited as if it just happened. People enjoy creating fun but to me, it is not funny. It is rather a serious matter, where some persons can degenerate to a ridiculous level. We celebrate them by creating unnecessary fun out of the serious matter. It is just incomprehensible. Serious minded people are wasting their precious time on what is not serious.”
These and many more are the reasons he was celebrated alongside other Muslim icons. They were the reasons eminent Muslim personalities such as Dr Muiz Banire (SAN), Prof Lakin Akintola, Prof Lateef Fagbohun, Prof Tajudeen Gbadamosi, Dr Wale Babalakin, Dr Qasim Akinreti, Alhaji Musbau Oyefeso, Ahaji Kamor Disu, Alhaja Sherifah Andu and Alhaja Sekinah Lawal among others set aside other functions to gather in celebration.
The parting words on the day were that; “A Muslim personality like Prof Oloyede has changed the narrative of the media about Islam and Muslims. It should also be noted that he (Prof Oloyede and his co-honourees) have done nothing extraordinary. They are only being their normal selves as Muslims whose responsibility on earth is to invite to “all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Ma‘roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden)”, as stated in Qur’an 3:104.
Dear Brethren-in-faith, let us be good Muslims, first, and then be ready to help others improve their Islam.
– By Rasheed Abubakar | Daily Independen | First published in March, 2018