By Festus Aladesanmi
It is a common knowledge that nothing goes for nothing in Nigeria. We are strangely different in this clime to the point that we bribe to secure admission for our children and employment or contracts for ourselves. Some parents even see nothing wrong in encouraging or assisting their children to cheat to pass examinations. Godfatherism thrives in Nigeria because merit and competence have been traded for favoritism in our society. Admissions, employments, promotions and contracts now go to the highest bidders.
The dream of every civil servant is to reach the pinnacle of his or her career as Permanent Secretary. However not all civil servants can become Permanent Secretaries. In an ideal situation, when a civil servant reaches GL 16 or above, he or she stands the chance of becoming a Permanent Secretary. Unfortunately favoritism has bastardized the system so much that in some cases level 15 or 16 officers could be made Head of Service to superintend over his seniors. There are instances where level 15 or 16 officers are confirmed as Permanent Secretaries while many senior level 16 or 17 officers are ignored because they could not pay the price. This cuts across both states and federal civil services. People spend millions of naira to be confirmed as Permanent Secretaries.
Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu just proved bookmakers wrong in Ondo State. For the very first time in Ondo state, civil servants were promoted and confirmed as Permanent Secretary strictly on seniority, merit and competence. What a paradigm shift? A careful study of the civil servant hierarchy records in Ondo state revealed that none of the newly appointed Permanent Secretaries was picked on favoritism. They were all picked meritoriously and on seniority. What a better way to strengthen the civil service? This will repose confidence in the junior officers that diligence and hard work pay.
The failure and success of every state Governor depend largely on the cooperation and support of the civil servants. Arakunrin Akeredolu has, by this singular action, practiced what he preaches. He recently declared in a keynote address he delivered in Imo State that he looked forward to a Nigeria where competence and merit will be the major criteria for admissions, employments, promotions, appointments, award of contracts and virtually everything. According to him, that is the only way to build a virile and sustainable growth as a nation. He is bringing this to bare in Ondo state.
The economic situation of Nigeria is at its lowest at the moment and Ondo state is having its fair share of the storm. For the state to successfully sail through the storm it needs a formidable civil service to drive its programs and agenda. It is therefore understandable if Akeredolu choses to treat the civil servants differently. It’s no longer business as usual. He promised at inception that he will do all within his power to ensure that civil servants receive their salary as and when due. He has not only judiciously sustained this promise but he has also cleared part of the backlog of salary his predecessor owed the workers.
This is a clear signal to all and sundry that indeed Arakunrin Akeredolu knows what he is doing. Party faithful and the general public criticized him when he didn’t respond immediately to the claim of his predecessor that he left #20b behind for him. He took his time and responded accordingly and accurately at the right time, after six months. There have been outcries as well concerning the appointment of Permanent Secretaries. He didn’t play to the gallery. He took his time as usual and named the new Permanent Secretary at a time of his choosing. I hope this put to rest the wrong insinuation and apprehension of some concerned party faithful about the loyalty and productivity of the inherited Permanent Secretaries.
God is the overall rewarder of diligence. I make bold to say that Arakunrin Akeredolu has just proved himself as a tool in the hands of God almighty to bring hope to the hopeless. Some of the newly appointed Permanent Secretaries didn’t see it coming. They didn’t lobby because they lack the direct connection or the usual inducement that was the practice in the past. I am personally aware of series of lobby by many civil servants who wanted to be promoted and confirmed as Permanent Secretaries, far and above their seniors. These set of people employed all means because that was the usual norm. However, Arakunrin stood on the side of natural justice and rewarded seniority, competence and merit.
I celebrate Arakunrin Akeredolu for the choices he made and I congratulate the newly appointed Permanent Secretaries. To all civil servants who believe in buying or lobbying their way through, above their seniors, we now have a new sheriff in town. You must learn how to diligently wait for your turn. To all hard working, diligent and honest civil servants, you don’t have to know anybody to lobby for you or borrow (or steal) to buy your way through to be rewarded at the appropriate time. Just play your part and leave the rest for God. To the APC faithful and the general public, Arakunrin and his team need our support and prayers. Let’s play our part well and be more patient with him. Things are surely looking up and very soon the sun will shine brighter again.
Festus Aladesanmi writes from Oba-Ile Akure. Email:festusaladesanmi@yahoo.