Our Rapid Population, Low Productivity Frightening; Aregbesola Forewarns at …

Ogbeni Abdul Rauf Aregbesola the Governor, State of Osun, Nigeria

The business of Government was grounded for almost eight hours at Osogbo on a great day, Thursday 21st June 2018 when the cream of the State of Osun Civil and Public Service gathered to celebrate the works of their founding fathers in the launch of a Book titled; “The Civil Service As A Cornerstone Of Development In The State of Osun: The First 25 Years” held at Atlantic Civic Centre, Beside NASFAT Praying Ground, Ring Road, Osogbo. Nigeria.
The Governor, Ogbeni Abdul Rauf Aregbesola who was at Abuja for the National Convention of their ruling Party – A.P.C. came home purposely to attend the program.
Even though the organizers were ready earlier than scheduled, the program started 50 minutes behind schedule at 11.50 a.m. and was moderated by the ace broadcaster Adetoyese Shittu Alamu as the program’s Master of Ceremony.
Chairman Association of retired Heads of Service and Permanent Secretaries (ARHSPS) in the State of Osun, Chief Moses Inaolaji Aboaba told the audience that his Association was incorporated with the Corporate Affairs Commission in March 2009 and works on the book that was being launched commenced 5 years ago, in 2013.
The Chairman of the occasion Professor Olu Aina OFR remarked that while growing up he never liked the Civil Servants because he thought that they were slow and don’t get results but when he grew older he knew better about their thoroughness, the details they go into, the discipline they put in and the completeness of action they ensure on works they started. He further said that it is not only in the State of Osun but it is all over the world that civil servants constitute the cornerstone of Government. He urged appreciation of the civil servants and that it was in their appreciation that he was at the ceremony.
Before the Guest Speaker – Emeritus Professor of Public Administration ‘Ladipo Adamolekun took the floor, his citation was read by a former Permanent Secretary in the State of Osun and now a Professor at Babcock University, Professor Jones Aluko.
Professor Adamolekun chose to talk on: ‘Nigeria Civil Services Observed’ and referred to the1959 positive valedictory remarks of Chief Obafemi Awolowo on the Civil Servants in Western Nigeria, a positive report on Civil Servants by a credible Magazine at the University of Ibadan in 1965, and another heart-warming observations of a British expert on Public Administration many years ago all of which pointed to the useful contributions of Civil Servants to good governance.
Drawing from his experience and observations of over six decades, Professor Admolekun said that the Nigerian Civil Service of Western Nigeria started with Institution Builders but was later afflicted by Institution Destroyers.
Towards Institution Building, the Guest Lecturer identified that Chief Obafemi Awolowo the Regional Premier held governance as a partnership between him and the Head of Service – Chief Simeon Adebo whereby Awolowo ‘head-mounted’ Adebo and other senior staff to leadership posts in the service. Besides, the political party of Awolowo had a development plan and drew an action plan for which Civil Servants were given the primary responsibility to implement.
Also, his government gave decent pay, provided resources and logistics for implementing the development programs. He had educational training and re-training for staff. Besides, Adebo as the Head of Service ensured that relationship between himself and other civil servants on the one hand and he and the Premier and Ministers on the other hand were smooth on issues of policy matters and implementation.
It was sometimes after 1967 war, Institution destroying factors set in. There was the involvement of civil Service in politics. For example, due to the vacuum of politicians (legislators, Ministers) created by the military in Government, civil servants became involved in sharing allocation of resources and development to parts of the region, a role that hitherto belonged to the political class and this involvement, in part, served to destroy the service.
The Guest Lecturer further identified that the failure to clarify the implementation of Federal Character Principle, a principle that the Guest Lecturer said was not bad in itself, led to its misinterpretation and served to destroy the Service. Also, the assimilation of senior Civil Servants posts as political offices in 2009 and the introduction of limitation of tenure of service to eight years in 2014 violated the security of career tenure and served as Institution Destroyer, he added. In addition, he observed that the mass purge of the civil service in 1975 eroded the security of tenure of service of civil servants and marked a major destroying factor for the public service.
It was pathetic to hear the Emeritus Professor pointing out that he has not known of any Civil Service in Nigeria that has regained the lost glory of its predecessors.
In order to restore efficiency in the Civil Service into a world class service, through modern techniques the Professor recommended a 3-phase approach; these are to redeem, to transform and to make it to progress to world class public service.
Thereafter, Mr. Governor of the State of Osun clad in white long sleeved ‘Buba’ and ‘sokoto’ with white cap to match, stood up cheerfully yet seriously. He spoke articulately and held the audience spell bound and without any prepared speech. Holding up the book that was presented to be launched, Aregebsola with a captivating body movement began; “the book reviewer did justice to this book.” “If anyone should be interested in this book, Ogbeni must be that person,” he asserted. “I wouldn’t know what motivations of the writers or editors were, but clearly, this book attempts to chronicle everything we did up till the date this book was written,” he observed.
He proudly recommended the book for each and every one to buy as he launched it with a whooping sum of Five Million Naira on behalf of the Government and people of the State of Osun. He revealed that he would take copies of the book for the Civil Servants and other Government agencies in Nigeria.
In a toast he cited “the Cornerstone of Government,” Aregbesola said Osun is blessed to have the best civil service in the Country having inherited the best hands from old Oyo State some of whom have worked with Chief Obafemi Awolowo. These hands are blessings to the State in terms of commitment and service output but became an albatross in terms of pensions because pensions’ bill alone at Osun is about 50% of salaries of other states, he said. He also observed that the Book was two years behind current achievements of the State.
The Governor noted that Bureaucracy is essential for any Government, what is debatable is the efficiency or otherwise of a bureaucracy. He urged Civil Servants to be more conscious to work for the people and not for any political party. Civil Service is the engine room of government and must be loyal to the Government in power, he said. Mr. Governor, Ogbeni Aregbesola lamented that these days civil service has lost that patriotism of service as it is not too conscious of its role to its people but government is struggling to cope with that challenge.

He urged the Civil Servants to re-engineer the Service and take the lead in ensuring that government build a humane, civilized and people oriented society. He recalled with appreciation that on two occasions he delayed constituting the State Executive Council for financial reasons and the civil servants filled the gap very well and showed uncommon understanding at confronting the financial challenges of the State.
In continuation of his Toast on the launch of the senior citizens’ book, Ogbeni Aregbesola quoted from Paul Rutman; the Age of Diminishing Expectations and said that a country’s ability to improve the standard of living over time depend almost entirely on its ability to raise its output per worker.

Aregbesola observed that given the quality of life in our country and the quality elsewhere that he has seen, he could safely assert that the nation is wretched; poor is an understatement.
He reasoned that we are wretched because relative to others we are not productive. He cited that Thailand, a 3rd world country by any standard produces 60 metric tons of cassava per hectare per year and are researching raising their yields to 120 metric tons per hectare per annum while Nigeria including the State of Osun is producing 20 metric tons. At this point, he asked are we competitive? He said once one is not competitive the person will be poor.
Ogbeni Aregbesola who was the Special Guest of Honour further lamented that ‘Our productivity as a people is the lowest in the world on everything, the only thing we have gained upper hand is procreation. “I don’t mean to be vulgar but a look at the rate of our population increase shows that Nigeria has one of the fastest growing populations in the world,” he said. Also, he forewarned that should we as a nation continue without seriously looking at birth control and improve our attitude to productivity, we might end up in long famine. He summarized that the point he was making was that we as a nation should take the issue of productivity very seriously and be circumspect on population control.
He concluded that regardless of what he had said about improving efficiency, he appreciated every second that the Almighty God has made possible for him to work with people like the civil servants of the State of Osun. Mr. Governor as he is usually called went back to Abuja immediately after the Program that ended at 4.15p.m.
Some of the issues raised in the Governor’s toast bring to fore the question of where lies the fulcrum of power to improve a society when a Governor’s desire to fast-move his state could not be fast.
Other donors for the Book launch were Chief Bisi Akande, ALGON State of Osun, Osun Head of Civil Service, Associations of Retired Heads of Service and Permanent Secretaries from Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and Ondo States chapters among others numerous to mention.
It might interest our readers to know that an on-the-spot account revealed that the book launch attracted a total donation of more than Six Million Naira.

Dignitaries that graced the occasion included Osun Head of Civil Service Dr. Festus Olowogboyega Oyebade, Justice Adegoke who represented the State Chief Judge, His Royal Majesty Oba Muraina Adebanjo Adedini, Asoya of Ile Asoya Ife Kingdom represented His Imperial Majesty, the Oooni of Ife, Mr. Tope Adejumo represented the first Administrator of the State – Colonel Leo Ajiborisa, Alhaji Layi Oyedugba a former Commissioner in the State represented former Governor – Chief Bisi Akande, Professor Akinaso, an Economist, professor Olu Odeyemi – a Nigerian Merit Award Winner and two time Senator Mudashir Hussein. Others, but not exhaustive of the dignitaries that attended, were two former Secretaries to the State Government – Mr. Folorunsho Abiona and Elder Femi Adelowokan and representatives of Associations of Retired Heads of Service and Permanent Secretaries from Lagos, Ogun, Oyo and Ondo States.

By Ess Kay

PublicTimes Nigeria (ISSN: 2250 –9295)

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