“Where the word best comes in, the term better becomes a misnomer.” – Yoruba proverb
One of British best known political philosophers and legal luminaries, Lord Acton, once etched an unforgettable wise-crack on the slate of life, which till today, affects and impacts on man’s social architecture and developmental engineering the world over. The sagacious sage and jurist, having deeply studied the rat race for political power, concluded thus: “For forms of government, let the fools contest; whatever is best administered is best governed.” How audacious but apt this statement?
Though centuries away from 2015, the aforementioned assertion still holds steam across the globe today; and quite accurate, complete, relevant, concise, convincing, meaningful and unambiguous –particularly when scrutinising the current actors and spectators in Lagos State politics. Given a political amphitheatre of fairness, equity and justice, to determine who succeeds admirable BRF, His Excellency Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, whose tenure expires soon; it may not be a hard task to spot the next helmsman in a technocrat with finesse, panache, diligence, honesty and overwhelming modesty.
Lagos State is never short of such a quintessential human asset. A people’s politician or a public steward of immense character, competence and capability; one with intense compassion for community development and astute leadership qualities; a leader whose cumulative attitude, over time, has extracted him from the multitude and placed him shoulder high above others, onto an enviable social altitude; a man worthy of emulation and accolade! Come 2015, who will the cap fit in Alausa Government House?
We are beginning to see early risers and wall-paper candidates, mostly mere pretenders and not real contenders; scrambling to take poll positions and hoping somehow for a legitimate cutting edge head-start. The media is the greatest benefactor in all of these – raking in stupendous revenues from paid spotlights and self-advertisements. Some of such quick-fit publications have been ascribed to questionable or non-existent socio-cultural groups or funny political hybrid associations. Truly, power never comes without a wrestle! And it is a real life game, but the public must sift the seed from the chaff.
Meanwhile, the beauty of democracy is that it must bring along progress and development to humanity. Hence, any man aspiring to an office of honour such as that of governor of a state should command respect among the governed and have untainted and impeccable character certification, eye on the ball of mutual growth, fingers on the pie of creativity, and a sound mind that fuses imagination with achievable innovations. Without doubt he should be a Midas; a man with value added touch, VAT.
And since political grapevine, and commonsense too, has it that a technocrat of repute, from Lagos East, should step into the big shoes that BRF will be leaving behind come 2015; then it behoves the good people of Ikorodu, Ibeju-Lekki, and Epe that constitute Lagos East, to put their best feet forward in the APC governorship election.
Stunningly, the revered royal father of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, was recently quoted in the media as endorsing a particular candidate for the top job from the ‘assigned’ senatorial district. And this ‘anointed’ candidate, who retired about a year ago from the State Civil Service, is believed to be a technocrat and public servant of high pedigree. Of course, he is. But there’s a hitch. The referred candidate may be a better candidate than others currently on display; except that he is not the best from this zone of attention. How can he equal, let alone beat, the record of an exemplary Head of Service and an illustrious son of Lagos East, who also bowed out of public stewardship, recently, after decades of meritorious service to Lagosians.
Now let’s have a sneak-peek of the staggering profile of Prince Adesegun Olusola Ogunlewe, Head of Service, Lagos State Civil Service (May 2010 – October 2013). Born 16th October 1953 into the Fadugba-Ogunlewe royal family of Igbogbo-Baiyeku Local Council Area of Ikorodu in Lagos East, young Ogunlewe had his elementary and secondary education in Methodist Primary School and Oriwu College, respectively, both in Ikorodu.
Prince Ogunlewe later joined the public service on 7th August 1979 as an administrative officer grade level 08; shortly after bagging a degree in Sociology from the famous University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU) in 1978. He soon learned the bureaucratic ropes and rose steadily through the ranks, became a permanent secretary (2nd February 2001) and served in five agencies and other capacities before getting to his career’s zenith as the Head of Service of Lagos State Civil Service on 21st May 2010.
With an impeccable credential of integrity, honesty, modesty, humility and simplicity; a well-organised Ogunlewe soon attained the enviable height of a thorough-bred technocrat, unassailable administrative disciplinarian and a public mentor. Aside his great leadership trait, Ogunlewe was a submissive and articulate subordinate. Between1987-1992, he was a private secretary to many state governors such as: late Navy Captain Okhai Mike Akhigbe, Col. Raji Rasaki (rtd) and Sir Michael Agbolade Otedola, of blessed memory.
It would be recalled that Ogunlewe, as a team leader, introduced the computerisation of records of land allocation on scheme-by-scheme basis in Lagos State. He also facilitated the preparation of an omnibus seniority list at the then Post-Primary Teaching Service Commission to avert supersession in appointment to duty posts and initiated the processes that resulted in the setting up of the Lagos State Records and Archives Bureau.
Besides, Ogunlewe ensured the completion of backlog for eligible staff while at the Civil Service Commission and sustained a healthy relationship between government and labour groups, throughout his four-year stay at the Ministry of Establishments and Training.
This adept administrator and negotiator also successfully did following as the Chairman of the Public Service Joint Negotiating Council in the State. (a) Review of Staff Salaries and Allowances (b) Career progression through review of Schemes of Service for over twenty cadres (c) Engendered cordial relations within and among the various Trade Unions and Government.
Furthermore, Prince Ogunlewe championed the Public Service Management Reforms under the State Partnership for Accountability Responsiveness and Capability (SPARC) via the Department for International Development (DFID), a United Kingdom-sponsored programme in Lagos State. His tenure also saw an increment to 48 buses in the fleet of the State Government Centralised Staff Bus Scheme. The ultra-modern facelift at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium was an additional shining example of Ogunlewe’s Midas’ touch of class.
For these laudable achievements and others, Prince Ogunlewe earned many laurels and honours to his royal name. He’s a fellow of the Institute of Public Administration of Nigeria (IPAN), the Nigerian Institute of Training and Development (NITAD) and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply Management of Nigeria (CIPSMAN). He is also a Patron of the Association for the Eradication of Corruption in Nigeria (ASSERCORN).
And, last but not the least; Prince Adesegun Olusola Ogunlewe is an embodiment of intellectualism and rich culture. He’s humane and urbane, grass-root oriented and people-focussed. And his portfolio of excellence, transparency, selflessness, altruism and team-play spirit could be attested to by many credible indigenes of Lagos State. The royal fathers from Badagry, Ara, Ikosi and Ikorodu (and even Kabiyesi Oba Akiolu) could vouch for this great man of purpose and emulative accomplishments.
Hence, if merit is the name of the political game in Lagos State’s search for a technocrat to be at the helms of affairs come 2015, the best candidate from Lagos East, cannot but be a man who deeply understands the inner workings of government. He’s seen it all and can consolidate the good works of outgoing governor Babatunde Fashola.
That choice is in Prince Adesegun Olusola Ogunlewe, 61. He’s literarily and realistically the word best that makes the term better an utter misnomer. Let the man who can serve best be the head that wears Lagos gubernatorial crown in 2015. Long live the good people of Lagos State and their heritage of perfection and excellent disposition never quakes? Eko ko ni ba je o.
The Writer, Alaba Yusuf, is an international publicist/journalist, strategist and commentator based in Abuja