By Matthew Godswill
The new Head of Ekiti State Civil Service, Mrs. Morenike Olapeju Babafemi, has highlighted his agenda for repositioning the service for better performance, shortly after her swearing in by Governor Kayode Fayemi in Ado-Ekiti, the state.
She made history as the first woman Head of Service in Ekiti State. Her colleagues described her as a hardworking civil servant, who will never compromise ethics and personal principle. Her appointment was the crowning of her long journey through the cadres. She joined the old Ondo State Civil Service as an Administrative Officer in 1987. Now, she is at the pinnacle of her career.
However, much more is expected of her as the number one civil servant.
Morenike Olapeju Babafemi is conscious of the historic responsibilities on her shoulders. The elevation implies more hard work. To survive, resourcefulness, creativity, diligence and leadership by example are key.
She is grateful to God who has destined her for the prime role. To the government, Babafemi is a trusted and tested quintessential servant of Ekiti in whom much confidence is reposed. Thanking Governor Kayode Fayemi for the uncommon opportunity, she promised to deploy her experience for the development of the civil service.
“Over the years, I have learnt what it truly means to serve, to lead, and to push boundaries. There is no better opportunity than this, for me to use all that I have learnt for the good of the Civil Service,” she said.
Her appointment is unique because in the over two decades of the state’s existence, it is the first time a woman will serve as Head of Service. This may serve as motivation for women to strive for excellence in public service.
Acknowledging the essence of the appointment, Babafemi said it not only exemplified the administration’s adherence to principles of good governance, which include accountability, and transparency, but also the upholding of the cardinal principle of inclusiveness and equal opportunities.
Noting that these virtues are the hallmark of the Fayemi administration, she aded: “The immediate direct outcomes are operational efficiency, higher productivity and a prosperous state others would emulate.”
The activist-wife of the governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, was all smiles throughout the ceremony. The Head of Service expressed gratitude to her saying she was her mentor when she served a couple of years ago in the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
“She continually brings to bear her passion for the principles of social justice and gender equality. Her footprint is solidly on the sand of time as a relentless advocate for social gender balance.
“I congratulate all the women folk within and outside the public service for this new dawn. This success is our success. It has become another example in the books for reference. The enormous confidence reposed in me by this appointment also confers a great responsibility for performance.”
Last year, the State Government had sponsored Babafemi for the ‘Leading Practitioners’ Programme of the African Leadership Centre (ALC) at the King’s College, London. She recalled that the programme made a profound impact on her personal and professional perspectives.
Reflecting on her participation, she said: “I had the opportunity to exchange ideas and compare my experiences of leadership in the public service with a network of practitioners across the world.
“The various literature I came across also confirmed that transformative leadership in the public service is a global quest, which governments across the world place a high premium.
“I remain grateful to His Excellency for approving my participation in theimpactful training programme.
“I thank Prof. Funmi Olonisakin, my supervisor and mentor at King’s College London and other academic mentors of the Center. I promise to use the knowledge gained for the benefits of the public service and Ekiti people in general. God helping me, I pledge my commitment to put in my utmost best.”
To the Head of Service, the pursuit of excellence has no end. It is like a circle. She thanked her predecessors, including the pioneer HoS, the late Mr Joshua Adeyeye Ibidunmoye, and immediate predecessor, Mr Ayodeji Ajayi.
What is her vision for Ekiti Civil Service? She said a Civil Service that is people-oriented is her priority and goal.
Babafemi emphasised that that kind of civil service should imbibe the culture of transparency and accountability, leveraging technology for socio-economic development of Ekiti State.
Training and re-training of civil servants are very crucial. Babafemi promised to promote manpower development.
She stressed: “My priorities are: staff welfare and training, leadership development and gender equality. In line with the familiar maxim,” if you don’t train them, don’t blame them.” Therefore, I will gear more efforts towards the training and retraining of staff.
“It is a known fact that gender mainstreaming upgrades and improves the activities of public institutions. I agree with the UNDP Report (1995) that “development that is not engendered is endangered.”
Babafemi noted that the governor appreciated the importance of a truly inclusive development and committed to participation of women in leadership and decision- making roles. Therefore, she said attention will be paid to gender empowerment in the civil service as a strategy for sustainable development.
Babafemi said the civil service should continue to support the administration in its determination to serve the people through the “Governance Agenda of Five Pillars-Governance; Social Investments; Knowledge Economy; Infrastructure and Industrial Development; and Agriculture and Rural Development.”
She said the landmark achievements in the last 15 months show clearly the yearning of the adminis tration for the speedy development of the state.
She saluted the dedication of the administration to payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities, adding that it demonstrates its responsiveness to the welfare of workers and pensioners.
She added: “The Ekiti Civil Service, aside from being a value-based institution, appreciates the purposeful leadership of the State Government and shares the vision and values of Governor Kayode Fayemi led-administration, and I am happy to be a part of this.”
The task of the Office of Head of Service is certainly not trivial. However, Babafemi said she is encouraged to serve under a government that has genuine commitment to improving the wellbeing of the people, particularly workers welfare and career development.
She is also happy that Ekiti Civil Service is blessed with intellectual capital. “Many workers across the cadres have sound academic and professional qualifications. This is reassuring that I will be working with capable minds,” she said.
Babafemi said as “a single leaf alone provides no shade,” she could work closely with the Civil Service leadership, comprising the body of Permanent Secretaries, General Managers, and Executive Secretaries.
She added: “Working together in a spirit of harmony will definitely produce the expected outcome for the good of all. “Equally, I will foster team spirit among the management staff in the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies. I admonish all workers to be diligent, contributing their best in advancing the development of the State, in line with the goals of the Governor KayodeFayemi administration.
“The actualisation of the goals rests heavily on a vibrant civil service. I admonish all workers to serve with all sense of responsibility, bearing in mind that hard work and dedication is highly rewarding.”
Babafemi thanked Deputy Governor Bisi Egbeyemi, other Executive Council members and political office holders who witnessed the ceremony. He also expressed gratitude to former Heads of Service, retired and serving Permanent Secretaries, top government functionaries and workers.
At the ceremony were the Slasye of Efon Kingdom, Oba Emmanuel Aladejare Agunsoye II, the Traditional Council of Obas, religious, community and political leaders, her husband, Pastor Ola Babafemi, some members of the Babafemi Ajagunna family of Efon Alaaye and Owoeye family of Ilesha.