THE Friday July 19, 2019 inauguration of no fewer than 30 permanent secretaries and tutors-generals in the Ondo State Public Service has confirmed Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s popular claim that the people will always be the centre of his administration’s policy. The inauguration of the deserving public servants as permanent secretaries and tutors-generals is part of the fulfilment of Akeredolu’s campaign promises to make the welfare of the state’s workers the top priority of his administration. So, the people of the Sunshine State were not surprised when the 30 most senior civil servants lined up in the front of the governor to take the oath of office, while promising to creditably discharge the responsibilities of their new offices. The event, the second in its series since Governor Akeredolu assumed power on February 24, 2017, is sure to further boost the morale of the state’s elated public servants who hailed the elevation of their senior colleagues as the best thing that has ever happened to the state public service.
It is necessary to note that the elevation of the deserving officers was a culmination of a phase in a continuing process as the promotion exercise for other deserving officers in 2019 is already in progress. Governor Akeredolu had in 2017 appointed 17 permanent secretaries. The latest appointments made the total number of the senior officers appointed by Akeredolu and occupying the top echelon of bureaucracy to be 44. A few weeks ago, some senior public servants who had spent more than the statutory tenure as permanent secretaries, were disengaged from service to pave way for the equally dedicated ones to climb the ladder of responsibility. Expectedly, the inauguration of the new permanent secretaries did not only lift the spirit of the state’s public servants but sustained determination of the current administration to keep all its promises. This governor, before considering the deserved officers for the elevation, ruled out political and religious considerations for the promotion. The governor used the occasion to, once again, announce to the teaming elated and boisterous workers present at the inauguration that no deserving public servants would be denied their promotion. It is no longer a piece of news item that Governor Akeredolu has not reneged in his promise to make the welfare of the state workforce the priority of his administration.
Since he assumed office as the governor of the Sunshine State, Akeredolu has approved car loans for civil servants and promoted a good number of junior and senior workers. Besides offsetting six of the seven months arrears he inherited from the immediate past administration, with the promise to clear the remaining outstanding very soon, the fact that Akeredolu has continued to pay the monthly emoluments of over 33,000 public servants in the state, despite the paucity of fund starving the administration in the face, has become a major source of overwhelming joy to the public servants. While inaugurating the brand new permanent secretaries and the tutors-general drawn from the main stream civil service, teaching and local government services the people’s governor dismissed the perceived insinuation among some senior workers that his decision to consider the beneficiaries for the elevation was motivated by some political or religious colourations. He had told the gathering of other public servants and the well-wishers of the beneficiaries of the promotion that the government, under his leadership, would continue to insist on equity and merit as the guiding principles propelling his administration’s decision on crucial issues.
He had said: “We shall continue to tow this part of progress in the service of our people.”It is therefore safe to appreciate the fact that the beneficiaries of the promotion were chosen among the plenitude of outstanding and equally qualified professionals. So, the brand new top bureaucrats considered themselves lucky for the elevation, just as Akeredolu assured everyone that his government would not depart from its avowed decision to continues to run an open-door policy. He is convinced that the best way to secure the confidence of the people and the public servants is through transparent and honesty of purpose. He raised the above point thus: ‘’We have been able to manage the lean resources of our people. We will continue to recognise and reward merit. We will not allow anyone to be denied his/her due under our watch. “We will erect a protective shield for the weak but diligent against even the remotest suggestion of oppression.” The governor, however, said that the promotion of the newly inaugurated permanent secretaries was not predicted on politics but on merit. He warned that his administration would not shirk in its responsibility to take courageous decisions, even if they hurt.
The governor said: “Anyone who works against the general interest of the people will be pursued and sanctioned vigorously. We will encourage diligence, honesty and dedication to the service of the people.” From all indications, the morale-boosting elevation is sure to address some gaps in the top echelon of the state bureaucracy. With this singular action, the governor has clearly demonstrated that nothing will stand between his administration and the state workforce whose support he has always described as commendable. As the governor’s decision to promote workers’ welfare will be engendering harmony in the public service, the entire public servants are therefore expected to keep their hands steady to add value to the state government activities. However, the governor expects the state workforce to demonstrate their ingenuity by assisting his administration to minimise wastage and block leakages. In fact, this is the one of the major ways the workers, led by the just promoted permanent secretaries and other senior colleagues, can reciprocate Akeredolu’s gesture. Another challenge before the brand new top bureaucrats is that Governor Akeredolu is not satisfied with the marginal progress recorded in revenue generation in the state. So, it behooves them to work harder and co-operate with the governor to significantly shore up the state revenue and drive the current administration’s policy of progressive advancement towards self-reliance.
- Falodi is the Press Secretary to Governor Akeredolu.