After a busy week of events marking the exit of the Lagos State Head of Service (HOS), Mr. Yakub Balogun, the number one civil servant in the state formally bowed out of service at the weekend amidst pomp and ceremony.
Last Friday was the day Balogun would never forget. Accolades and eulogies were poured on him by members of the State Executive Council (SEC) led by Governor Babatunde Fashola and leaders in the state public service, as they paid homage to him.
Indeed, the HOS was ushered out of service in a grand style, as thousands of civil servants thronged the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Secretariat, to catch a glimpse of him before he finally bowed out of office.
On the evening of that day, the official ceremony of Pulling Out was performed. In an emotional laden way, the former HOS was pulled out of the secretariat by the civil servants.
At the Pens Down ceremony held for Balogun, Fashola praised him for leading the Stateâ€™s Public Service â€œwith an uncommon welfarist approachâ€, adding that while in service, â€œhe was a father and friend to all and adversary to noneâ€.
According to him, the former HOS spear-headed many initiatives that sought to strengthen the bond of unity among public servants and continued with many of those he inherited, such as Pension Reforms and Mortgage Scheme which served the same purpose at different levels.
â€œI feel confident to assert that each of the three Heads of Service, who had served our state in the last 11 years of our democratic experience, has helped to restore the glory of the public service in their unique ways.
â€œUndoubtedly, in my view, Yakub Balogunâ€™s greatest strength was his disarming humility and courtesy to all who encountered him, including myself.Â He got so many things done for our state by putting himself last. It is a character strength that is most ideal and worthy of emulation for every public servant if we must remain true to our mandate as servants of the people,â€ he said.
Fashola added: â€œHe was never one to wear the authority or privilege of his office on his sleeve and in spite of how hard myself and members of the Executive Council pushed him, he remained true to his calling as a quintessential leader of the public service, whose brief was to maintain a necessary but delicate balance between the political office holders and the career public servants.
â€œAlthough, our government continues to evolve and build on foundations of the past, it is only fair and just to credit him for his role and successes achieved during his tenure.Â He did not squander the gains of the past but used them as critical building blocks to reinvigorate our public service to its present pride of place and I bear testimony to how many people have left the private sector to join us.â€
Assuring Balogun of the best, Fashola declared, â€œAs you bow out gracefully after a career of unblemished public and noble service, I believe that I speak the minds of all the Stateâ€™s Civil Servants, we will miss you. But as much as we are reluctant to let you off, we respect your personal wish and desire to move on to greater things as destiny certainly beckonsâ€.
Speaking on behalf of the Body of Permanent Secretaries, Mrs. Josephine Ibironke, described Balogun as a humorous and humble person, pointingÂ out that throughout his tenure, he was a great team leader who led by example.
Permanent Secretary, Public Service Office, Mrs. Doyin Olusoga, highlighted some of theÂ initiatives facilitated by Balogun which included provision of more buses for the centralised staff bus scheme, increase in staff housing loan, introduction of long service award and Service Week which provided the opportunity of winning various prizes among other initiatives.
The National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), whose speech was read by its State Council Chairman, Comrade Kunle Balogun, said the Head of Service made tremendous contributions to the union by way of negotiations and harmonization in times of misunderstanding in the service.
Earlier in the day, a special valedictory session was held for Balogun by the SEC where he received more accolades from his admirers.
According to the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, â€œI am delighted to know him, he really assisted me and others who came from the diaspora to serve in Lagos State Government. He helped us to settle down.Â In summary, heâ€™s been a source of inspiration.
Mr. Ganiyu Johnson, Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructure said â€œI remember when you used to settle quarrels between myself and my permanent secretary. I would urge you to remain God fearing and I wish you well in your future endeavours.â€
Commissioner for Housing, Mr. Dele Onabokun said: â€œItâ€™s been 34 years of great service to the state. He showed a good sense of humour and service to humanity. It is my prayer that your tomorrow would be greater than your today.â€
â€œOne thing that stands him out is that he is very predictable. Heâ€™s a man of solid character, and I find this very impressive. Heâ€™s shown great consistency, good nature and I never found him to be under pressure,â€ said Mr. Ade Ipaye, Special Adviser on Taxation and Revenue.
Also Mr. Olalekan Ifemade, Special Adviser, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs said: â€œWe lived together in the same locality. Heâ€™s a man that is ready to help anybody at any time. He did his job with passion and carried the civil service along.
Responding, Alhaji Balogun expressed gratitude to all those who had made his job easier for him. He said without their cooperation,Â he would not have recorded the successes for which he is being commended.
In his remarks, he thanked Fashola â€œfor believing in me and for retaining me as Head of Service of our great stateâ€.
â€œIt is with the deepest emotions of gratitude that I acknowledge the continued confidence with which you have sustained me during my headship of the Service. I very much appreciate your generous confidence and trust in me even till this hour of my public service life,â€ Balogun told the state governor.
He said he would continue his service to the government and people of Lagos State in his private capacity.
He also expressed his gratitude to the immediate past Governor, Bola Tinubu for appointing him as the Head of Service during his tenure.
In line with the tradition of the state government to reward excellent public service, Balogun was presented with documents of a detached building and a brand new Mercedes Benz car.
Balogun joined the Lagos State Civil service thirty three years ago and voluntary retired despite having a year to go in the service.
It was, however, gathered that Balogun’s early retirement is due to his interest in politics. He is said to be gunning for the Lagos Central seat in the House of Representatives at the National Assembly.