Friday, August 5, 2022 will remain indelible in the minds of many officials in Ogun State. That day, Governor Dapo Abiodun dismissed the larger-than-life image of a chief executive of the state and decided to hang out with the workers. After driving his self-driving car, many of his aides were waving him up the stairs to his office when he changed direction. In the officials’ offices, he walked from the security post.
It was an unusual day for many civil servants in Ogun State. Many had entered and continued their routine work when the august visitor entered. “Hello, colleagues,” he said, shaking hands with the surprised workers. It was the first time they had met the governors at close range. That day was one-on-one as he interacted with them asking questions about family, work schedules and the day’s agenda. It was a pleasant surprise.
But the governor says that’s not unusual.
“I came here this morning to see how the workers are doing, check on their well-being and familiarize myself with the office environment. I’m happy with what I’ve seen even if there’s little to do,” he joked as reporters also found it unusual to see him wandering around offices like this since he took over. took office.
“I have been in the offices of the Information Commissioners, Finance, Budget and Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Information, Finance and the Office of Policy and Administration. I also visited the offices of the Chief of Service and Secretary of State Government, among others,” he said with a smile.
“But it’s not unusual. They’re the frontline in spreading the message of creating the right environment for people to come and invest in the state and so it’s important for me to go around and see how they’re doing. ‘come out,’ he said.
But why did he choose to make it impromptu, unplanned? Governor Abiodun, an oil tycoon and boardroom guru, describes this as part of the new things to make sure people are where they’re supposed to be and not through coercion to incitement.
“The main reason was to check on them first, to check on their well-being, to see how they were in their offices and to familiarize myself with their office environment, and then while doing that, to see what facilities they had or were lacking and just generally rate me with how they are. And that’s not unusual. We work together, they are always in my office and it is a privilege for me to walk around and feel their pulse and see how they are.
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For the state government secretary, Tokunbo Talabi, he was caught off guard. “I think everyone was caught off guard. But from an administrative point of view, it is a very important means of motivating people; it strengthens the cord between His Excellency and most of the people who are on the street,” he said, noting that “I believe it is also another flair in trying to ensure that the team stays together because building our future together requires A to take care of B and B to take care of C.
“So if you go to my apartment I’m glad you’re there, when you come to visit me afterwards too, it’s a different style, it keeps everyone on their toes because it could be you tomorrow. “
As excited workers rushed to catch a glimpse of him, some seeing him for the first time up close wondered what had changed. But this was not the first time that Governor Abiodun has promised that: “Other MDAs (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) that I did not visit today should expect their own unscheduled visit. This is to motivate them and make sure we all share this dream. I am delighted with the conscience of those I met today and I hope that the majority of our staff, through their work ethic and attitude, will encourage us to do more in terms of service delivery and benefits social. »
A day after being sworn in, Governor Abiodun held a series of meetings with all the cadres of state officials and ended it with the state civil service permanent secretaries. His intention, he said then, was to have detailed knowledge of the state’s situation.
At the meetings, he instructed them to take up the challenge of his administration’s “Building Our Future Together” agenda and to be resourceful in discharging their responsibilities as pioneers in steering the wheel of progress in state over the next four years and beyond.
As he did on Friday, Governor Abiodun took the opportunity to share with them his vision to reposition the civil service as an effective arm of government. He didn’t mince a word about his determination to fix the anomalies in appointments to the top echelons of the civilian bureaucracy.
Since then, all high-level appointments have been made in line with the government’s desire to fill vacancies within the state civil service with seniority, merit, professionalism and diversity as the primary consideration and pursuant to Section 208 (c) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
Governor Abiodun also kept his promise to integrate some 2,000 employees with desperate hope. They had been recruited without assignment or papers by the previous administration on the eve of his departure.
This promise was immediately matched by a legislative imprimatur from the State Assembly, which nullified the appointments and classified them as actions taken in bad faith and without due process. This move was deemed by many to be good for service morale, as most of these appointments were politically motivated and could manifest as a landmine to sabotage the incumbent governor.
Expressing his confidence in the public service, which he called the engine room of good governance, Governor Abiodun leaned on his chest as he said, “All of our appointees in all leadership positions – directors general, guardians-general, accountant-general, solicitor-general and permanent secretaries are men. and women who have been found worthy of character and brain capacity by excelling in the assessment and evaluation program, in accordance with the Ogun standard. I declared that the era of lobbying in Ogun’s civil service was over.
“To emphasize, the era of lobbying is over. I salute their family members for these well-deserved nominations. I must say that by your actions, within and outside your statutory functions, as civil servants, you have demonstrated that you are of excellent parentage and race. You are joining a group that has earned an enviable place in our administration thanks to its exceptional performance. You have all demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the successful implementation of the “Building our future together” programme.
The head of the state service, Nafiu Aigoro, the first doctor to occupy the office, said he was simply “amazed by the impromptu visit”.
“It was a surprise and we are happy. It is a moral lift for the workforce. Everyone was surprised. The workforce would not have known that the executive governor of the State could visit their offices and some other offices.
“It shows that they are not just on their own, but working. So it came as a surprise, it’s actually great news that all the permanent secretaries and all the people below the line will know that they have to be at their station because the governor can visit any of the offices at any time.We are grateful to His Excellency for that, we thank him for doing this for us.
On the supposed outcome of this type of visit, Aigoro posited that “the Governor (Abiodun) got excited that he was happy but there are one or two things he thinks are missing and we are going to make sure those gaps are filled in. From time to time, he will continue to do so (unannounced visits to the offices of civil servants). There are other ministries he did not go to today: he would women, youth and sports in particular. He will not announce it; he will surprise everyone”, adding that “My advice for them (the workers) is that they should continue to do what they are doing. We are all here to work together to build the happy future of Ogun State.”
Abiodun has demonstrated its good faith commitment to the welfare of the state’s workforce. Wages are paid monthly – one of three states not due in the South West, and was one of the first to enter payment of the new N30,000 minimum.
According to him, when he took office on May 29, 2019, the head of the state service told him that they had “very little or no money” in the treasury.
“May 30 was our first day in office. And on the 31st, I understood that it was the end of the month and that the salaries had to be paid, but here we are on our second day in office. I don’t even have an office; I don’t even know how to sign a document; I don’t even know what the protocols are. Suddenly, we realized that it was the 31st and I intend to keep my part of the tripartite agreement.
“So I called the department head; I told him that we had to pay a salary. But he told me: ‘You are new to government and everyone understands that you have just taken office and that we do not expect you to pay salaries now’. They (the workers) will understand. There is very little or no money. We can talk to them. I told the department head, whether they (the workers) were pregnant or not, it was my promise to the people that the salaries would be paid when they were due.
“So I took my phone and called my friends who are doctors in different banks. I told them that I have to pay salaries and that’s the little I have; almost nothing in the state account I applied for a credit facility to enable me to pay more than 7 billion naira which is the state payroll.That day my intention was that maybe one or two would oblige me but the five banks I called obliged me.” The story went from good to better month after month, even with the new minimum wage and outstanding pension and gratuity arrears.