The National Board for Arabic and Islamic Studies (NBAIS) is a national examination body, covering over 25 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). It is saddled with the responsibility of supervision of the conduct of examination, among others. On assumption of office as the new Registrar/CEO in May, 2023, Prof. Yahuza Suleiman Imam did not hesitate to hit the ground running. As one well cut out for the job, his determination to raise NBAIS to enviable height is not in doubt. Attention, therefore, is focused on developing a strategic plan for the organisation that aligns with its vision and mission, and that which addresses the identified areas for improvement. He has generally focused on turning around the Board for greater and quality service. The Prof. Imam-led board emphasiss on repositioning some fundamental areas.
Career progression and development of staff for optimal performance has remained the topmost priority of the registrar. Hence, capacity building on financial management and administrative procedures had been organised for senior management staff. Similarly, other training programmes have been scheduled for other categories of staff. Consequently, a good number of staff at the headquarters and zonal offices across the nation who are beneficiaries of the training programme attest to the value added by the capacity building programme in increasing productivity.
Effective conduct and monitoring of the Senior Arabic and Islamic Secondary Schools Certificate Examination (SAISSCE) is one of the core mandates of NBAIS. Although, the registrar assumed office in the middle of the preparation for the June/July SAISSCE with the challenges of timely production, supply, and transportation of examination materials, it was altogether a huge success. A major milestone by the board is evident in the overhaul of the examination process such as item generation, internal/external moderation, strategic production/supply of examination materials, as well as transportation of the materials to various examination centres across the country. The standard set and high level of efficiency recorded in the coordination of the entire process is work in progress which will be further improved upon and sustained in the interest of Arabic and Qur’anic education in Nigeria.
It is a fact that people increasingly excel in an environment conducive for their endeavours. Concerned about the welfare of staff, Prof. Imam has embarked on immediate renovation of the head office complex. Presently, headquarters of the board is wearing a new and befitting look. Furthermore, he has directed that all contractors should act professionally and deliver on contracts awarded to them accordingly. He further directed that all pending contracts should be effectively monitored for optimal result and timely completion. Standing committees have been set up to revisit the status quo and ensure speedy completion of ongoing works as well as a quick handing over of the completed ones.
Advocacy visits to relevant stakeholders for improved relationship were carried out and it is ongoing. Prof. Imam has held consultations with both the internal and external stakeholders of the board, including staff, with a view to improving performance and enhancing working relationship. Speaking during one of such gatherings organised by staff, the registrar appreciated the immense contributions of staff to the growth of the board and assured of improved staff welfare and condition of service. Other external relevant agencies were consulted to strengthen partnership. The registrar also recognises the role traditional institutions play in galvanising support for the board. Consequently, he paid a courtesy visit to the Emir of Zazzau His Royal Highness Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli to solicit his continued support. Other traditional rulers and religious clerics were similarly visited to sustain the existing cordial relationships.
The registrar also reached out to members of the National Assembly, heads of tertiary institutions, government agencies and NGOs, among others, with a view to sensitise them on the activities, prospects and challenges of the board. He pledged to ensure synergy and good working relationship with academic institutions.
A labourer deserves his wage is a popular aphorism which also aligns with the goals of the board. Suffice to say the general interests and welfare of staff and personnel top the agenda of the registrar. Salaries are paid as at when due.
The role of effective information and communication within the internal and external publics of an organisation cannot be over-emphasised. Introducing technology and innovative means of message delivery are important in repositioning NBAIS. In view of this and desirous of having strong communication channels to ensure that all stakeholders are kept informed about the activities of the board, the CEO has instructed the Information/Protocol and ICT departments towards the hosting of detailed activities of the board on the organisation’s website and relevant social media handles. The ICT department is working hard on reviews and updates of the organidation’s technology infrastructure to ensure that it is up-to-date and meets the needs of the agency and stakeholders. The department has been mandated to partner with relevant agencies for the provision of solar power to support the electricity needs of the board, as well as the upgrade of the database of Human Resource Management department and many more.
As an examination board responsible for Arabic and Islamic schools, there exist zero tolerance for corruption and related activities. Adequate support has been given to the Anti-Corruption Unit to sensitise staff on the negative effects of corrupt practices and related offences. Funds had been released to enable the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit of the board implement sensitisation workshops earmarked for 2023 across three zones of Kano, Kaduna and Gombe. This is borne out of the desire to ensure transparency and accountability in the board’s operations.
Partnership with Tsangaya administrators and other stakeholders for seamless growth and development of the system is key. This is predicated on the fact that, stakeholder consultation and engagement provide necessary feedbacks aimed at driving progress and improvement. Therefore, the registrar has stepped up efforts through collaborating with other organisations and stakeholders to promote the agency’s vision and mission, thereby ensuring increased commitment and partnership for the overall success of the very much desired integration of Tsangaya and Qur’anic education into the conventional system of education, as championed by the federal government. A number of fruitful interfaces and brainstorming efforts on the way forward have been achieved in that regard.
NBAIS has witnessed increased recognition within the country and beyond. Efforts are also in top gear in the area of developing robust strategies to promote the board’s services. Within 100 days, there have been remarkable footprints recorded in the endorsement of the board’s SAISSCE by stakeholders. There is also a significant increase in accredited centres across the nation.
Finally, the board is now more poised than ever to discharge its mandate, excel and foster the existing cordial relationship with all stakeholders. Overall, one can say without fear of contradiction that Prof. Imam has succeeded in prioritising activities and fine tuning the vision and mission of the board, thereby making it more result oriented.
Dauda, media and communication specialist, writes from Kado, FCT, Abuja