By; RALPH OKHIRIA, Benin City
The prestigious John Odigie Oyegun Public Service Academy (JOOPSA) in Benin City, Edo state, was on Saturday, commissioned.
The gigantic complex is named in honour of the first executive governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, who on August 12, 2023, marked his 84th birthday anniversary.
The governor who thanked all those that attended the formal inauguration of JOOPSA which he noted, is an institution built to transform public and civil service delivery and bridge the knowledge gap of Edo public servants.
According to Governor Obaseki, “the ability of a government to execute it’s policies is largely is dependent on the quality and ability of it’s public servants. That is why from the beginning of our Administration the transformation of the public service of our State has been given priority.
“It’ was clear in my mind that it will be impossible to deliver on the mandate of our Administration without a strong and effective Public and Civil Service. Unfortunately, the public service we met was very weak in several areas. It’s processes and procedures has become blurred because they were manual and therefore the civil service sluggish and prone to corruption and environment hazardous, offices without proper toilet facilities.
“Welfare of workers was terrible and wondered why the civil servants themselves allowed their situation to deteriorate to such an extend. Nothing like performance Management, nothing was done strategically and criteria for promotion was never merit based. You must belong to society to be considered and training and human capacity development was relegated.
“It is now important to change the narrative if we are to succeed to reposition Edo for sustainable, socio economic growth”.
He further noted that in the last six years his administration has taken a holistic approach to revamp the public and civil service in Edo State to enable it function effectively and efficiently.
“Edo State transformation and enhancement projects in the public service which we call Edo Steps has resulted in significant and unprecedented improvement in the capacity of the public servants to delivered optimally.
“Today, the public service in Edo State is the most digitalized public service in Nigeria, with over 5,000 computer and fiber optic connection across offices in the State. By September 1st 2023, Edo State would have achieved a paperless governance environment which will make us the first state to achieve this feats. I will be the last governor to work with physical files in the state.
“The offices of our public servants in Edo State are the best they can be and well equip with State of the art facilities which can be compared to any you can fine in the world with 24/7 electricity and fast internet connectivity.
“We have taken the welfare of our public servants as a priority because we know that if you don’t pay people properly, and take care of them you should expect high productivity from them. The don’t joke with the welfare of of our workforce as we ensure that all working with us have heath insurance as you don’t need to pay for treatment.
“We have fully funded contributory pension scheme, which we started 1st of January 2017 and the scheme I am told that the savings in that scheme is approaching N10 billion as we will not have a situation when people retired you don’t have money to pay them”.
Obaseki said in order to curb and deal with the human capacity deficit in the civil service, his administration embarked on setting up JOOPSA as a centre of excellence to train and build the capacity of public servants to enable them perform optimally.
The celebrant, Chief John Odigie Oyegun who recalled the honour done the late first Nigeria female senator, Franca Afegbua and granting of automatic employment to first class graduates who are of Edo indigenes, by the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, said he is so proud and fulfilled to have had a special building named after him while he is still very much alive.
Oyegun who also narrated his journey in the civil service and how he rose to the position of Super Permanent Secretary, said though his stay was short having retired at the age of 48, added that a leader must be focused and ready to take risk.
He commended the state governor for laying a solid foundation that will stand the taste of time, stressing that the governor is the man who envisage the future.
But in his keynote address, former Head of Service of the federation, Mr. Stephen Osagiede Oronsaye, said his suspension as the then head of service to the federation was unconstitutional.
Mr. Oronsaye said he stepped on many toes while serving as the HoS in a bid to reform the civil service and that he has no regret for all that he did.
He disclosed that without a motivated workforce, no administration can deliver on its mandate hence academy like JOOPSA is needed.