Ben Peters, Abuja
Former Governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, has disclosed that his refusal to compromise as Permanent Secretary in the Federal Civil Service during the Military regime led to his early retirement at the age of 48 years.
Oyegun made this revelation this during his closing remarks at the formal commissioning of the John Odigie Oyegun Public Service Academy (JOOPSA) an Institution named after him by Edo State government to celebrate his 84-years birthday and 19-years meritorious service as a civil servant at the federal level.
The celebrant, who commended the governor for his developmental strides in the State and transformation of the State Civil/Public Service, called on Civil/Public Servants in the State to be committed, dedicated and upright in their service to the State as they will get their reward for it.
“I thank you Mr. Governor Obaseki and your wife, for honouring me when I am alive, I appreciate you and today I feel very fulfilled for this. I was glad when something was named after me, getting calls all around the world that they saw a building named after me, I told them my governor did it.
“Today, I am emphatically proud. I am proud that my name has been associated with an Institution of intense possibility. Naming this great idea after me is considered the peak of my Civil and Public Service career and I thank the governor for this honour.”
Oyegun, who was also a former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said he didn’t serve for long in the Federal Civil Service, but served for just 19 years not 35 years, however, he was able to leave his imprint in the sand of time, noting that he had the unique opportunity of serving with the best minds in the Civil service then and contributed his quota to the development of the service, State and the nation at large.
Commending the governor for his transformation of the State Civil Service, Oyegun said the governor sees the direction of the World and decided to prepare the State ahead.
“I am very aware of the transformational drive going on in the State, and also noticed the various hubs established by this Obaseki-led administration and shows that the governor is preparing the State for the future. Governor sees the direction of the world and doesn’t want Edo State to fall behind.
“I commend and appreciate the governor for his decision to give first class graduates of Edo extraction an automatic employment for excellent performance in their academics and offer them opportunities. This step will make Edo citizens proud wherever they are in the world.
“It shows that there are people in authority who are watching to honour citizens of the State wherever they are because they noticed that citizens of the State have distinguished themselves and will be rewarded. Nothing inspired like recognition of talents, contributions, quality and ability of individuals.”
He called on civil servants to aim for excellence as it matters in their career, noting, “’When you are doing your work People notice, your boss notice and will determine how you are judged in time to come.”
Oyegun further admonished civil servants to be courageous, maintain their integrity and stand for what they believed in and do the right things against all odds.
“I was called to manage the Nigeria Airways as Managing Director but refused because the Minister of Aviation was then a Military man. I refused the offer because he will not allow me to do my job. I was that fearless to tell him to his face politely that he will not let me function effectively and will lose credibility with passengers.
Giving instances of some of the things that transpired during his time as PS, he noted, “I was bold to tell the Military what I want as a permanent secretary to ensure I don’t get into troubles. The IBB administration then posted me to various Ministries including that of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
“The first thing the Military did was send me a list of people to be retired but I am not the one to retire them but write to the Public Service Commission with reasons. I sat with my Commissioner, an Armond Commander in the Military, who could not tell me what these people did but said the instructions are from the Supreme Headquarters.
“Three Military officers were appointed by the IBB regime to supervise the different import licenses and I was told that I will be the one to sign all the import licenses but I politely refused. I told them I can’t do that because I was not responsible for it and where I come from we don’t behave this way. Immediately after that conversation, I knew I would be sacked and I went to report myself to the Head of Service (HOS) of the Federation at that time.
“I went to my office, instructed my secretary to prepare a resignation letter, so I can retire before the Military could sack me. We all have a decision to make, it requires courage to take major steps to maintain integrity, defend what you stand for.
“When there was a crisis at the Ministry of Internal Affairs I was the only signatory of the Nigerian Passport at that time, I did all my duties and responsibilities, maintaining my integrity. I retired at 48 years after 19 years of service.”
The former Edo State Governor said the greatest problem facing Nigeria is the loss of values, ethics, morality and ability to tell rights from wrongs, noting, “The greatest problem we have in this country is not how many beautiful roads that you construct, or schools’ roof coloured changed. We are now in a society that has lost its values, ethics, morality and ability to tell rights from wrongs and the focus should be how to change the system and that is where JOOPSA comes in as the academy will equip those that pass through it with re-orientation of the mind indicating that service, excellent performance, and integrity matters as all will be rewarded passing through the system.”