The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) was in the news for the wrong reason last week. Two of its officials literally set the social media on fire with high-fallutin tales on how huge sums of money running into millions of naira walked out of the agency in the bad old days when the admissions agency was both a mint and a cash cow for some of its unscrupulous personnel.
But now, a Daniel with the unlikely name of Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, has come to judgement at the agency, and the “snake witches” in the organisation are busy confessing their past atrocities to a panel set up by Oloyede, the new JAMB Registrar, to audit the sale of scratch cards during the old regime. One of the JAMB personnel, a sales clerk identified as Philomena Chieshe, claimed that a “spiritual snake” operating in cahoots with her housemaid, used to sneak into the agency’s vaults at night, and had actually stolen N36 million from the funds realised from the sale of JAMB scratch cards in her custody during the erstwhile administration at the agency. This tale, from the agency’s Makurdi, Benue State office, was yet to be digested by Nigerians when it was followed by that of another official in the Nasarawa office, Labaran Tanko, which said the N26 million realized from the sale of JAMB scratch cards that he was taking in the booth of his car to Abuja was burnt alongside his car and the remaining scratch cards in a car accident he was involved in.
These two stories, which are outcomes of the Oloyede audit of the erstwhile JAMB scratch card regime, have taken the issue of corruption and misappropriation of public funds to an unprecedented level. Although they do not range in the billions of naira like the sums for which former First Lady, Patience Jonathan, and former oil minister, Dieziani Alison-Maduekwe, are being chased around by the anti-corrption agencies, they deserve the highest awards for creativity. Not since the tale of “government money kept in government house” by one of the governors of one of the then northern states have we heard such amazing tales on the adventures, or is it, misadventures, of public funds in the hands of unscrupulous public servants.
It would, indeed, appear that beyond our anti-corruption agencies, the National Assembly must begin to make provisions for snake charmers and catchers in the country’s subsequent budgets, to take charge of money-guzzling snakes which may want to dip their deadly fangs into the humongous sums in the coffers of our “juicier” agencies such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission (NNPC), or even our increasing Foreign Reserve. If these stories were not accurate reflections of the extent of corruption and depravity in the country, they would make one laugh. In fact, they would make good scripts for comedies, and I trust our ever creative Nigerians to come up with roadside magazines and, eventually, comic flicks, if not full comedy films, on these strange tales. But laugh, we must not. Instead of laughing, the “tales by moonlight” told by these two JAMB officials call for a sober reflection on the extent to which public funds were looted during the past regimes and prompt action to bring the participants in the odious drama sketches to book. This is more so as the suspected disappearance of other huge sums from other offices of the agency are under investigation. Fraud of N83m was reportedly uncovered in the Kano, Edo, Kogi, Gombe and Plateau offices, while N31, N20, N15m and N10m are suspected to have been misappropriated or mismanaged in Edo, Kano, Plateau and Gombe States, respectively.
These obnoxious tales emanating from JAMB are, however, not surprising. This is because it is in this same JAMB that a former helmsman remitted N50 million to the Federal coffers for a period of about five years that the new helmsman reportedly remitted about N72 billion in 2017 alone. The difference between what the former helmsmen and Oloyede remitted is what must have ended up in the bellies of snakes and hyenas in the agency and the country has a responsibility to catch the snakes and make them vomit the swallowed sums.Nigeria owes Oloyede a debt of gratitude for unveiling that the agency could, indeed, be a cash cow, if honestly managed. He must be commended for ending the regime of the snakes and scratch cards, and helped to succeed in the face of attempts by the other corruption snakes in the agency to fight back.
One thing that Nigeria must not shy away from is to ensure that all the snake purveyors at the agency are brought to book and made to cough out the sums stolen. The JAMB audit teams must also not relent in their efforts to unravel all the other jackals and vultures that swallowed funds from JAMB offices in all parts of the country. Comprehensive audits of this nature and concrete steps to change the way things are done in the country are what Nigerians expect to see in the Buhari change administration. We expect to see more of these, instead of the current seeming winning and dinning with corruption. All the snakes, be they pythons or black mambas in our public agencies, must be smoked out to regain the tempo of the anti-graft war.
Re: IBB’s controversial letter
Well, IBB has spoken as OBJ. It is now left for the ruling party to wake up from its slumber to make things work for Nigerians’ good. Despite that the two former leaders are not saints, it is always good to listen to their advice so that Nigeria can move forward. To tell the truth, I must say there is hardship in the land which Nigerians are expecting to see a solution to but the problem is biting harder everyday. Let APC wake up. 2019 general election is almost here. Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, 08062887535
The invitation of Afegbua by the IGP shows that the current IGP is an ethnic jingoist and a tribal warlord. See what he is doing in Benue State. Nigeria is a piteous spectacle.
Chike Nwigboa, Awka, 08022801552
Your analysis of Babangida’s controversial letter to Buhari was quite right and your conclusion well placed. Since Babangida has, however, owned up to the authorship of the letter, the issue, in my view, should rest there. Sad that a shoddy controversy could trail such a document; coming from a former head of state! Wonders, they say, will never end. But, human errors should also be accommodated; when necessary. The IGP should also be pardoned for his reaction which is a common practice with public officials on issues affecting executive positions in government. I believe that now that Babangida has cleared the air on the issue, the IGP would sheath his sword against Afegbua and let him be. Public servants, in armed forces, must not only be heard but seen as handling criminal acts “rightly”, whether or not in tune with the social tenets of decorum, which is not compulsory. God save Nigerians, Amen. Lai Ashadele.