Appointment of Permanent Secretaries: The Quest for Inclusivity and Other Concerns in Ondo State

Appointment of Permanent Secretaries: The Quest for Inclusivity and Other Concerns in Ondo State

Appointment of Permanent Secretaries: The Quest for Inclusivity and Other Concerns in Ondo State

By Allen Sowore, Esq.

Earlier this week, Ondo State Governor, His Excellency Lucky Aiyedatiwa, exercised his authority by approving the appointments of 16 new Permanent Secretaries. The announcement of these appointments has sparked a range of reactions. Naturally, family members and friends of the newly appointed individuals are jubilant, while those awaiting appointments are understandably anxious.

The status of Head of Service, Permanent Secretary, and Accounting Officers represents the pinnacle of success for every dedicated career civil servant. Intrigued by this development, I sought detailed information about the beneficiaries, including their local government of origin, qualifications, and why no indigene of Apoi from Ese-Odo has attained this crucial career status since the state’s creation.

However, my curiosity persisted upon reading a statement issued on Tuesday by Concerned Ikale Youth (CIY), signed by Egbuwalo Olumide and Omosaye Aiyenitaju, the President and Secretary, respectively. The statement alleged a lopsidedness in the recent appointment of senior career officers in the state.

I must commend the Concerned Ikale Youths for their prompt response and critique. I have always believed that there is no gain in citizen docility in a democratic government.

Like the members of the Concerned Ikale Youths, I intended to express my concerns about the appointments. However, I decided to gather facts and figures before doing so. I obtained the comprehensive list of all Permanent Secretaries in the state, along with the seniority list.

Upon scrutiny, it became evident that the list reflected past injustices. Many senior state bureaucrats have been deserving of promotion and appointments as Permanent Secretaries, but political considerations rather than merit have often determined such decisions. This trend should not persist.

While I agree with some of the issues raised by CIY, especially the need for the Governor to make more appointments, both in career and political spheres, I propose that the Governor should consider appointing at least one commissioner from each of the 18 constitutionally recognised local government areas of the state for equity, justice, and fairness.

However, there appears to be deliberate misinformation and elements of political blackmail aimed at influencing the governor for obvious reasons — possibly to dampen his popularity ahead of the APC’s April Primary Election and the November Governorship Election.

Presently, there are approximately 30 Permanent Secretaries in the civil service of Ondo State, with a fair distribution across ethnic and local government lines. Ilaje and Idanre have the highest numbers, with four Permanent Secretaries each. Akure South LG has three Permanent Secretaries. Okitipupa and many other local government areas have an average of one to two, while three LGs have none. This distribution results from earlier recruitments, promotions, and retirements.

I advocate for a return to the standard practice of merit and strict compliance with existing civil rules. Political considerations in civil service administration should be minimized to preserve the sanctity of the service.

For record purposes, several clarifications are needed. Mr. O.F. Ayodele is a Prince from Ojuala Kingdom of Ese -Odo LG. He is not from Ilaje LG as wrongly put. Interestingly, Mr. Festus Asonja retired the day after his appointment. Asonja George, appointed as Director of Protocol, has been with the governor since his deputy governor days, indicating loyalty, trust, dedication, and the principle of the right of first refusal.

Similarly, Mr. Segun Omojuwa transitioned from Deputy Chief of Staff to Chief of Staff by the operations of law upon the death of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN CON.

Mentioning the state Chief Judge, Honourable Justice Olusegun Odusola, appointed by the late governor, weakens the CIY’s agenda, as the governor lacks the constitutional power to remove him, even if he wishes.

The CIY’s inclusion of OSOPADEC & NDDC in their alleged lopsided appointments is unfounded, as these positions are exclusively reserved for the oil-producing communities of Ilaje and Ese-Odo LGAs, even during Dr. Olusegun Agagu’s tenure.

It is premature to allege that the governor has completed the constitution of the state cabinet without appointing anybody from Okitipupa, given the limited number of Commissioners and Advisers.

In conclusion, the CIY’s assertion that the Governor’s election ambition is under threat and their vow to work against him in the APC’s primary election and subsequent general election is overly political, self-serving, and coercive. CIY should have first addressed the perceived imbalance with the Governor, allowing him to make amends while urging him to do more.

Historically, friendly political relationships existed among the people of the old Okitipupa division, exemplified by the unique leadership of Dr. Olusegun Agagu. The current circumstances offer another golden opportunity to build on the legacy of our forebears, which must not be thwarted by self-serving political opportunists.

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