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Prof. Ishaq Oloyede: ‘White’ African at JAMB

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When a new vice-chancellor, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, took over at the Obafemi Awolowo University (formerly University of Ife), Ile-Ife last July, I described him – and acting VC Prof. Anthony Elujoba he took over from – as “White African” not on account of Ogunbodede’s complexion (though he can be mistaken for a half-caste) but on account of his mindset.

 

Last Sunday as I sat sideby- side with another eminent Nigerian, and a professor to boot, who qualifies to also be described as another “White African” – Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, the Registrar of JAMB – my mind could not but wander to the plight of conscionable Nigerians and how unkind our system can be.

 

As Oloyede reeled out the challenges he confronts as JAMB boss, the efforts he has invested and the yields, I could not but wonder whether he would end up a hero or villain. Corruption fights back and it fights dirty in a corruptionriddled country like Nigeria and those who will truly clean the Augean stable will be up against a mouthful. We don’t need to go far: Recall the hoopla when it was reported that Oloyede’s JAMB repatriated N7.8 billion to the Federation Account in one year.

 

That is an amount that many regimes before him could not return in many years or decades.

 

Was he in his right senses? Of course, he was! Is this man a Nigerian? Of course, he is not in the real sense of the word. Few real Nigerian do that but it speaks to who Oloyede is. It is re-assuring that we still have many of their tribes.

 

 

What this country lacks is the ability to fish them out in the right quantity and saddle them with critical appointments that will make a difference in the polity. When we talk of corruption, Nigerians know that their country is a leader but few knew that the corruption industry as it affects the conduct of public examinations and admission processes is spoken of in billions of Naira.

 

Listening to Oloyede, I felt completely lost. Criminals, hackers, untrustworthy contractors, and disloyal staff have turned public examinations into a money-spinning business that rakes in billions yearly. The criminals, compromised staff, and contractors are not alone in this. In all demand and supply equation or what is called the functionalism of corruption, corruption exists because it serves a purpose.

 

There is demand for it and the demand side here is made up of students/candidates and, wait for it, parents who are willing to pay 100, 200 or 300 thousands of Naira to criminals to hack JAMB system, compromise the examination and admission process to favour their wards. According to Oloyede, many of such criminals have been apprehended and are cooling their heels in incarceration.

 

Yet, a lot more need be done to stay one or two steps ahead of the criminals; to frustrate their resolute determination to turn technology, which should aid development, into a potent weapon to truncate positive and genuine efforts to reposition society; to galvanize an overwhelmed security system and consenting individuals who have resigned themselves to the ubiquity and unassailability of the criminals; and flush out a section of staff already compromised so that the system can operate seamlessly to deliver on stated goals.

 

Oloyede said: “The main challenge of public examination is malpractice; malpractice is at the root of all our challenges in Nigeria.” Well said! I shudder to think that the frightening situation painted by Oloyede pertains only to the organisation under his watch.

 

What of NECO, WAEC, and other examinations? Blocking the loopholes exploited by the criminals and their customers are Herculean, expensive, time-consuming, and can be frustrating when insider abuse rears its head and society as a whole throws its hands up in total surrender. Registration syndicate and CBT operators colluding with them are the first line of assault.

 

Once registration process is compromised, like voters’ register, the whole process is thrown off cue. Thinking aloud: What stops a hacker or registration syndicate becoming a CBT operator in the same way an armed robber can enlist in the Police or a Boko Haram or ISIS member can become a herdsman?

 

This is not just food for thought but a tough nut to crack. Oloyede and JAMB have a tough job on their hands but, in my view, the problem is half solved once the leadership is solid and ready to get the job done. But it must ensure the following: Always be steps ahead of the syndicates in technological applications. It must spare no efforts or funding in this regard.

 

Two: It must ensure strong enforcement of extant laws and regulations. Like Oloyede himself noted, weak enforcement in times past allowed this crime to thrive, just as weak enforcement has emboldened hideous herdsmen. Three: It must continue to improve on the system.

 

Many steps that JAMB under his leadership has taken in this respect are commendable; such as elimination of double registration without Direct Entry candidates suffering any loss; elimination of problems associated with profile registration; cancelling change of course payments; and removing the bottlenecks associated with subject combinations, which have been nagging headaches for candidates. When a system is cumbersome and difficult, it is natural for people to want to cut corners.

 

As JAMB simplifies its system, reduces unnecessary costs, and removes bottlenecks, it will win the confidence of candidates and parents alike. Another problem that encourages cutting of corners is when a system is not transparent but is opaque.

When you know that others will cheat and you will be at the receiving end, you could be minded to join the Joneses. As they say, if you can’t beat them, join them. It is like when you are in the traffic and you see people driving against traffic and getting away with it. Thank goodness, JAMB has now introduced what Oloyede called the Central Admissions Processing System (CAPS) which makes selective application of rules impossible.

 

Jumping more qualified students to pick favoured candidates below the pecking order is no longer possible with CAPS. I am confident that as candidates and parents’ confidence in JAMB’s reliability and professionalism soars, and as crime is made less profitable for the criminals by a combination of proactive measures adopted by JAMB, the incidence of examination and admission malpractice will be drastically reduced.

 

So, JAMB must learn to walk the tight rope of shutting out hackers by not allowing too much time for registration while also taking into consideration the interest of candidates by allowing enough time for registration. Not an easy task, you will say, but the Oloyede that I saw last Sunday appears to me equal to the task.

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Opinions

To cure the Police of its illness

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Last year The Guardian newspaper carried a report as a rider on its front page. The title was, Zaki-Biam: IGP Briefs, Absolves Fulani Herdsmen. As at the time the story was published, I remember that I had bought the paper but didn’t give the report much thought. I was mostly carried away with the photo of the newly commissioned Ojota Bridge which was the cover photo that the Guardian published on this fateful day. I once lived and worked in Lagos, and part of the experience of commuting to and from work was that I had to risk my life on that mechanical skeleton. Most of us braved arrest by LASTMA to using that bridge for fear that it might give away and convey us to untimely eternity.

 

 

But with the killing of 73 and more people in Benue and others in Nasarawa state over grazing cattle on peoples farms, I had to run right back to that publication and look at it closely again. On page 2 of that publication and to quote the words right out of the paper as credited to the IGP of Police, Ibrahim Idris. In briefing Mr. President (concerning the killings in Zaki-Biam in Benue state) he had said: No, I don’t think it is Fulani herdsmen. It was an activity of a criminal who is using some of his criminal gangs in the state to harass people. That, I have assured the governor when I met with him few days ago. Continuing, the IGP said he told the President that ‘we are police officers. Crime has no tribe; if you are a criminal, you are a criminal; we don’t look at crime in the identity of where you are coming from (sic).

 

I doubt the IGP on that last part. French biologist and writer Jean Rostand (1894 – 1977) once said that if you kill a man, you’re a murderer; kill millions of men, you are a conqueror. Kill everyone, and you are a god. I do not understand which among the statuses arrogated to killing of innocent Nigerians it is that the Nigerian police intend to subject Nigerians. In the recent case in Benin City, a policeman seeking bribe from an innocent Nigerian and perhaps seeking to establish the police as a good friend just thrust the adamant young man he was haranguing in the direction of an oncoming truck. He was hit and his head was crushed by the truck. Then there was the case of a media aide who issued a press release on behalf of his principal. Apparently because the content of the press release did not urge Mr. President to contest for a send term, the police immediately declared the media aide a wanted man. That as far as most Nigerians are concerned established the Nigerian police not as friend but as a sycophantic body seeking the perpetration of the tenure of Mr. President.

 

But it was in the Benue case that most Nigerians believe that there must be a sinister plan to kill millions of Nigerians ostensibly from a temperament of an emerging conquistador. Otherwise, how can anyone explain that an institution which is saddled with the protection of lives and property and which generally wants to be seen as a friend of the people stand akimbo, askance as hundreds of people are murdered in broad day light and in peace times? If perhaps the Nigeria Police would be reminded how their antics would compare to certain events in the past, let me refer them to an article in the archive of the Microsoft Premium Encyclopedia 2009. In that article reference was made to the fact that IBB overthrew Muhammadu Buhari because of the increasingly dictatorial nature of the Buhari regime.

 

 

The article said that there was suppression of critical commentary and of various interest groups had gone against the pluralistic structure of Nigerian society and its people’s deep attachment to personal freedom. ‘Particularly unpopular had been the Buhari government’s Decree 4, which forbade publication of anything that might ridicule or denigrate government officials. The decree had shackled Nigeria’s vigorously independent, increasingly sophisticated press and led to the arrest of a number of prominent journalists. Also bitterly resented was Decree 2, which provided for the detention of any citizen deemed to constitute a security risk. Under this sweeping provision, the Nigerian Security Organization (NSO) was given a virtual blank check to arrest critics and dissidents. The regime further alienated the populace by banning all public discussion of the country’s political future. In addition, the coup was precipitated by the conservative economic policies of the Buhari regime, the article said.

I verily believe that the Nigerian police has contributed much more to demonizing our beloved president than anyone else. If the president does not do something about the police, posterity will consign him to the dustbin of history as a second-time dictator. A certain US politician, Al Smith (1873 – 1944) once said that you can cure all the ills which democracy brings by giving the people more democracy. Buhari can cure the police with more democracy.

•Written by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku, is communications manager ANEEJ.

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Opinions

BBN: The phony moral brigade is out again

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There is every chance that we all have friends or acquaintances, who are convinced they have a divine warrant to tell us how a piece of music should make us feel. Those so persuaded ignore the fact of differences in tastes and orientation. As a rule, they consider their own tastes divinely-approved, not personal preferences. They are the moral brigade. I was not surprised to see members of the brigade back on the podium immediately the hit show, Big Brother Naija (BBN), returned on 28 January.

 

They are easy to spot. They lurk on internet discussion forums or take spaces in the print media, acting like magistrates with the power to tell others what or what not to watch on television and what show sponsors should put their money on.

 

The BBN, without fail, gets the moral brigade into fits of red-eyed rage and on the same limp arguments. In an article, Big Brother, Small Minds, published by Daily Trust on 13 February, one Eugene Enahoro, blamed virtually all the challenges of Nigerian youths, including unwillingness to launch street protests at every opportunity as well inability to dislodge older politicians from the scene and establish a “youthocracy”, on BBN. The view is not original to him. I have seen people blame the English Premier League for Nigerians’ reluctance to make bonfires and block the roads for fun. I consider this an insult. Young Nigerians have participated in many protests and keep doing so since BBN and the English Premier League started airing in Nigeria.

 

The BBN, according to Enahoro, “is a clear example of the idleness, lack of focus and intellectual poverty amongst our youth”. He claimed that when the show debuted years ago, “those who watched it were written off as people who have nothing to do, watching other people doing nothing!” Perhaps, he was talking about himself and his ilk. I know many people, who watched and were mightily entertained (their right). Social media platforms also provide an uncomplicated indication of how much interest viewers have in BBN. Further proof of that is the return of the show with other editions. Had it been rejected by the audience, the show would have been ditched after debut.

 

These days, claimed Enahoro, housemates do nothing other than engage in “in immorality of the highest order and discuss the most mundane unintelligent issues.” I am yet to see hardcore porn on or naked violence on BBN. A few indiscretions, maybe, but I strongly suspect that the writer knows that the BBN House is not a monastery and the show is unscripted. I am equally aware that no one is forced to watch. And very importantly, those who consider goings-on in the house unsuitable for viewers of certain ages should take advantage of their education and use the time and channel blocking features available to prevent access. Those features are not decorative in purpose.

 

If the writer wants activism-oriented reality show, one drenched in Marxist rhetoric and Bob Marley’s ‘Stand Up, Get Up’ playing relentlessly as the soundtrack, he should come up with an idea and pitch it. Intelligence, it must be made clear, is not exclusive to politics and activism. Both platforms, DStv and GOtv, on which BBN is aired, offer programming for diverse tastes. They include news, movies, sports, religion and general entertainment. Simply take your pick and as they say on the street, “eat the rice and leave the stones”.

It is curious that the writer can describe a show that guarantees the winner N25million and a brand new SUV as one with no real value. Well, it has monetary value. More than that, it has career advancement value. The careers of some of the previous housemates have been helped by their participation. Bisola Aiyeola, the first runner-up at last year’s BBN attended the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York as an Ambassador of One Campaign Initiative, which advocates improvement of access to and quality of education for girls in Nigeria, especially in the Northern states.

 

This followed her winning presentation on BBN, where she highlighted the barriers to girl-child education in Nigeria. In any language, what she did would spell “seminal”, a word the author may not be familiar with. She has also featured in a number of television commercials and is a celebrity, facts that obviously leave the writer baleful. Uti Unachukwu cannot be said to have been hurt by participation in BBN except in the mind of the author.

 

Enahoro wants the N25million for the winner of a mathematics or essay competition. I concede to him the right to hold his belief. What I find unacceptable is that he thinks that knowledge in mathematics (and you can add other subjects of study) is the only means of being useful in the society. This is not the case.
I do think every activity not deemed illegal is useful to the society. Jamaica is better known for its reggae and athletics icons than her poets and mathematicians. Brazil is better known for football than anything else. That is not saying that poets and mathematicians are inferior, but you cannot legislate preferences for people.

 

Education is fantastic, but if the writer is sufficiently educated, he would understand that education does not have one strain and is not restricted to school subjects. Interacting with people of different backgrounds and performing various tasks at a single location for three months must count as education and must be considered useful for personal development.

 

And for the authors’ education, some of the BBN housemates have second degrees. Many have first degrees. Branding them as unintelligent is reflective of the minds of the members of the moral brigade, not those of the housemates. And you can find intelligent people among those who have never worn academic gowns. BBN sponsors, MultiChoice, remain among the biggest investors in education through the MultiChoice Resource Centres in over 400 public schools across the country. This fact is well known to except to the moral brigade. The sponsors’ support for journalism in Africa and in Nigeria through the CNN/MultiChoice African Journalism Awards, in the author’s bizarre world, does not come across as noble. Presumably, the organization’s support for Sickle Cell Society Nigeria also counts as less than noble.

 

The author’s anger at the size of the cash prize on offer to the eventual winner is, to say the least, laughable. Top-tier actors, musicians, footballers and boxers, to name a few, earn more than professors, scientists or economists et al. That the chaps in the “noble” professions do not earn as much as those in the presumably less noble ones has nothing to do with how important their fields are to society. They are mightily important.

 

The truth is that only the top actors, musicians, footballers and boxers are highly paid. The vast majority never get the jobs they seek. Very few top-tier scientists, educators, professors and economists are paid relatively little. Some turn their work into products and services that earn them eye-watering sums.

 

Everyone’s remuneration is based on what someone is willing to pay them. They key is to find the right employer. Footballers get better paid than doctors because the clubs that pay their wages are not public corporations and they are ‘for-profit’ organizations. A footballer’s wages, for example, come from the deep pockets of a billionaire or a club with big-money sponsorship deals, massive ticket-sale and merchandise revenues as well as competition prize money intake. The author is unable to understand this, obviously.

 

 

You don’t want to watch BBN? Stay off it and stick to what thrills you. Others want to watch, deal with it.

•Umunna writes from Port Harcourt

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Perspectives

Temptation (Part 2)

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A part-time Christian cannot defeat a full time demon. Devil, the originator of temptation is going to and fro, looking for whom he may devour.
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1st Peter 5:8 NIV).

This is a 24/7 job. Unfortunately, the potential prey that the devil seeks, only seems to remember God on Sundays. As a matter of fact, many so-called Christians today only go to church on Sundays to respect the Sunday; not to respect the God of the Sunday. These are part-time Christians. There is no way such people can overcome temptation that comes from a full time smooth operator called Devil.
The devil uses human beings to operate his temptations. But why should I be this instrument of operation?

A prostitute (corporate, raw or classy) is looking for someone with whom fornication can be committed. Why should that person be me?
The devil wants to scatter a family with unnecessary quarrels, resulting from ego contest and pride. Why should my family be a victim?
Someone wants to seduce a married person to commit adultery. Why should I fall victim to such effort?

An innocent, ignorant, teenage virgin exposes her nakedness to a guy unconsciously and the devil begins to manipulate the guy, selling the idea of deflowering the girl. Why should this guy serve as the devil’s agent?
Your housemaid or wife’s sister is deliberately making efforts to seduce you into adultery. Why should you stand up to work for the devil instead of disorganizing his plans?

A person of the opposite sex is in trouble and needs your help. The devil says: “Take advantage of the person and have a carnal knowledge of the person.” Why should you yield to such destiny-destroying advice?
Don’t ever deliberately make yourself a source of temptation to someone. When you post a nude photo of your naked body or that of someone on the internet, you are a terrible enemy of God.
“Jesus said to his disciples: Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come” (Luke 17:1 NIV).

“And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck” (Mark 9:42 NIV)
“I urge you brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them” (Romans 16:17 NIV).
To overcome temptation therefore, “Pray without ceasing” (2nd Thessalonians 5:17).

Prayer may however, not yield any results if it comes from someone who enjoys sin. This is because the prayer of the sinner is an abomination unto God (Proverbs 28:9). You must “give no place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27).
Put God and holiness above every decision under pressure. If your fiancée says you cannot get married until you guys commit fornication, tell the person that holiness unto God is more important to you than the marriage.
Avoid avoidable danger zones. Do not mingle with prostitutes, drunks and hemp smokers and tell me you are being tempted. You are actually jumping into temptation intentionally to obtain a free visa to hell fire.
Avoid immoral utterances and conversations. Avoid immoral videos and telephone communications.

“Evil communication corrupts good manners” (1st Corinthians 15:33).
Don’t make jokes about sex with obviously ungodly people. Don’t even take them as best of friends. They will pollute your heart and push you into the river of sin through temptation.
Above all, you must allow Jesus Christ to take over your heart and possess it. It is his grace that can help you to overcome temptations.
Jesus said: “…without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5)

“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord but out of a pure heart” (2nd Timothy 2:22 NIV).
Are you going through spiritual temptation? Maybe you attend church or mosque regularly. Yet, your dream life is in crisis. In fact, you hardly sleep because of spiritual attacks. You even suspect your spouse because of the role your spouse played in the dream as someone that is after your life and peace. Has your child or spouse suddenly begun to exhibit some totally strange behaviour such as canvassing or communicating with invisible people? These are forms of spiritual attack, and deliverance is possible.

Does your family suddenly record a bad news shortly after a positive miracle like wedding, safe child delivery, exam success, etc? Have you suddenly developed hatred for a member of your family for no just cause and even has the urge to harm the person? Do you sometimes have the urge to spiritually manipulate and kill someone or even yourself? This is the spirit of death. It has been sent by the devil to destroy you.

The first step towards deliverance from these and many other spiritual temptations is to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and personal saviour. Then, you can enjoy authority over Satan, who Jesus has already conquered on the cross of Calvary. You can enjoy the benefits of the authority Jesus gave in Luke 10:19 “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Until you yield totally to Jesus, this scripture will remain mere text to you.
Do you think you have a spirit husband or wife? See possible solutions in the book, MAKING YOUR MARRIAGE WORK by Albinus Chiedu. Your marriage shall be a miracle and a testimony in Jesus name! Amen!.

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