BY LEKE ADEGBITE

“Retirement is like coming home one day and telling your wife, honey, I’m home… for good!

One can also describe Retirement from public service as just a never-ending vacation, while Fridays are no longer the best day of the week anymore for retirees.

It is on this note that the Retirement of the quintessential, cerebral and consummate number one civil servant in Ondo state, Mr OLUWADARE ARAGBAIYE, will be a moment of celebration of excellence in the state public service.

Mr. Oluwadare Aragbaiye was born in October 1960 in Owo, Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State to the family of Mr. Jacob Ajinaja Aragbaiye and Mama Comfort Folake Aragbaiye (Nee Fadamitan) of the famous Ojumu family of Owo, both of blessed memories.

Young Dare Aragbaiye attended St. Patrick’s Anglican Primary School, Owo, Owo High School Owo, Special Sixth Form College, Ikare-Akoko, University of Ife, Ile-Ife from 1980 – 1983 and much later the Federal University of Technology, Akure for his Master Degree in Business Administration.

Mr. Aragbaiye commenced his Civil Service career in March 1985 as an Administrative Officer in the State Ministry of Finance.

 

He had since served in several capacities in the State Civil Service including the following:

Assistant Secretary I (Admin. & General) Governor’s Office; Private Secretary to two successive Military Governors – Col. Ekundayo Opaleye and Navy Captain Olabode Ibiyinka George (both Retd.); Chief Protocol Officer to former Deputy Governor – Dr. Olusegun Agagu, of blessed memory; Asst. Secretary (Personnel) Post-Primary School Management Board;

Also served as the Personal Assistant to the former Military Governor – Col. Moses .O. Fasanya (Retd.); Director of Finance and Admin, Board of Internal Revenue; Director of Establishments; Director/Chief Executive, Board of Internal Revenue; Director of Finance and Administration, Ministry of Health; and Director Personnel, Finance and Administration, Civil Service Commission.

His blossom career continued when he was made the Administrative Secretary, Ondo State Public Service Training Institute; Administrative Secretary, Office of Establishments; Administrative Secretary and later Permanent Secretary (General Administration), Governor’s Office; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport; and Permanent Secretary, Government House and Protocol, Governor’s Office.

Mr. Oluwadare Aragbaiye reached the Zenith of public service when  he was appointed the Head of the Public service of Ondo State by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN.

It was obvious that Governor Akeredolu never made a wrong choice in the appointment of Mr Aragbaiye as the HoS on July 1st, 2019… as his résumé clearly showed that he remains one of the finest bureaucrats you can find in any part of the world.

Governor Akeredolu did not find it difficult to appoint him as the number one Civil Servant when the then Head of Service, Toyin Akinkuotu retired.

The civil service career of Dare Aragbaiye, spanning the various Ministries/Departments/Agencies of Government has been remarkable with notable impacts. Specifically, while at the General Administration, Governor’s office as Secretary and later as Permanent Secretary, there was general renovation of the entire secretariat complex and improvement of facilities to meet the requirement of functional modern office, in actualization of Government policy and plans for provision of conducive work environment.

The landmark renovation included the asphalt overlay of the parking lots of the Ministries of Finance, Education, and that of the Transport Pool of the General Administration Department, which he initiated.

While at the then Post Primary School Management Board, he handled the production of the first ever Teachers’ Newsletter as Editor – in – chief.

His duty tour of the Ondo State Board of Internal Revenue as Director and Chief Executive of the Board marked notable growth in revenue generation. This was a period when the threshold of revenue generation was raised beyond #200M for the first time in Ondo State.

Mr. Aragbaiye is known for outstanding dedication to duty. His compliance with work ethics is second to none. He jealously guards and guides the operational principles upon which the public service is anchored, towards efficient service delivery to the good of Ondo State.

Mr. Aragbaiye has attended several training/capacity building programmes within and outside Nigeria.  Such programmes span the Finance, Health, Personnel and HR functions, amongst others.  He has since presented several Seminal papers to groups of civil servants across MDAs within and outside Ondo State.

Governor Akeredolu sworn-in the newly appointed Ondo State Head of Service, Oluwadare Aragbaiye on Monday, 1st July, 2019.

On that day, the Governor extolled Mr Aragbaiye, urging him to rededicate himself to service and expressed confidence in the ability of Mr Aragbaiye to give the State civil service a new direction.

“I proclaim, confidently, that the celebration of today is about excellence, dedication to duty, unalloyed loyalty to the government of Ondo State and her people, through selfless service spanning more than three decades, competence, humility, continence, honesty and decency. I congratulate the people of this State for being able to reap, bountifully, from their investment in this wonderful gift, Oluwadare Aragbaiye the Head of Service.”

“Let me join numerous well-wishers, colleagues, friends and members of the family to rejoice with the first Public Servant of the State.

“Regaling the audience with the sterling qualities of this patriot is needless. No good deeds are hidden; our people are keen observers of events.

They are efficient chroniclers. They hardly forget. But I make bold to assert, with palpable joy, that the State is lucky to have him in the saddle at this crucial moment. He has served the people of Ondo State, meritoriously, for over three decades. All good people will agree with this statement.”

REFORMS BY DARE ARAGBAIYE

Mr Dare Aragbaiye carried out series of reforms to reposition the state public service for quality service delivery.

Chief among the reforms was the launching of the Ondo Service Improvement Programme’ (ODSIP) in December, 2019 by Governor Akeredolu and as part of the moves by his administration to reposition the State Public Service for optimum Performance and excellent service delivery.

At the Unveiling of ODSIP in Akure, Akeredolu described the reform as a reminder to do things as they ought to be done and a wake-up call with a value rebirth to deal with the fault-lines of the current practices in the service.

The governor noted that with the launch of the new Public Service Reform, tagged: ‘The Ondo Service Improvement Programme’ (ODSIP), Public Servants in the state are expected to demostrate the motto of the reform, which is: “To Give My Best”.

He said: ”I look forward to a dedicated, resourceful, professional and reengineered bureaucracy in the State. Please give your best as promised.  You have my full support for this reform as your patron.

“As you embark on this reform, I urge you to give priority attention to good work ethics, probity, revenue generation, and assets maintenance.  Do not, in any way, allow yourselves to be used to sabotage government’s development efforts.”

The Governor said that the Public Service has played a central role in governance to the extent that one cannot imagine a flow of governance in its absence.

“I even wonder at times if public servants understand the enormity of the obligations and responsibilities placed on them in governance–service delivery matrix.

“I say this because public servants seem to know and demonstrate, a great deal, less. Without flattering, let me say that, notwithstanding your anonymous status, your influence in governance is great,” the Governor added.

The Head of Service, Mr. Dare Aragbaiye said the decoration of the Governor as the Patron of the Public Service in the state was in recognition of the commitment and the love the Governor has shown the Public servants.

It was not surprising that the implementation of ODSIP had assisted greatly the goal of ensuring workers in the state efficiently serve the people of the state through effective monitoring and encouragement.

Aragbaiye’s incredible performance within a year as the state Head of Service could not be overemphasised especially making Ondo state first among the Southwest states to start the implementation of #30,000 new minimum wage.

It is also to the credit of the outgoing HoS that the state Civil Service never experienced any industrial action under his watch. This was basically due to his negotiation prowess and administrative skills in dealing with labour related matters.

ELONGATION OF HIS TENURE

Also on March 11th, 2020, it was not surprising that the Labour unions in the state on behalf of workers pushed for the elongation of Aragbaiye’s tenure as HoS by one year to enable him deliver some his laudable reforms in the public service.

Governor Akeredolu acceded to the request of the workers for the extension of the tenure of Mr. Dare Aragbaiye as the Head of Service of the state for one year.

The Governor also attributed his decision to extend the head of service’s tenure to the current industrial peace made possible by the collaboration between the leadership of labour and the office of the head of service.

According to the Governor, the extension also became necessary after a careful consideration of the prevailing situation with regards to the role of the state public service in his administration’s quest for sustainable development in all areas.

 

“The extension of tenure, the Governor said, was without prejudice to extant of rules and regulations guiding the appointment of the Head of Service as a civil servant.

“Mr Governor hopes that the Head of Service will continue to justify the confidence reposed in him and continually discharge the duties of his office in the interest of the government and people of Ondo State.”

Organised labour in Ondo state in the same vain expressed satisfaction with the extension of tenure of Mr Dare Aragbaiye as the stare Head of Service.

In a Press Statement signed by the Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Sunday Adeleye-Oluwole on behalf of the organised labour, the Workers’ Union said the appointment of Aragbaiye was not by mistake.

“On behalf of the State Executive Council (SEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress and the Joint negotiating council I wish to felicitate in solidarity with our dependable and upright Head of Service, Mr. Dare Aragbaiye on the elongation of his tenure of office as the Head of the state bureaucracy by Mr. Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu SAN.

“Your choice ab-ni-tio was not a mistake but a delibrate act that shows Mr. Governor has a knack for excellence, sincerity, forthrightness and diligence.

 

“Since his assumption of office, the civil service has taken a beautiful leap from where it used to be indeed, Mr. Aragbaiye is a round peg in a round hole.

“We equally want to seize this opportunity to thank our dear Governor and friend for setting another record in the overall interest of our service. Mr. Governor, thank you again and again.

“And to whom much is given, much they say is expected. It is our hope and desire that our dear Mr. Head of Service will not relent in doing what he’s been doing but, be more inspired towards moving our service to the eldorado of our dreams. Once again, we say Congratulations and thank you to Mr Governor,” the organised labour said.

 

In a Congratulatory Letter dated 3rd July, 2019 and signed by the Chairman, Adetona Aderoboye and the State Secretary of the Union, Leke Adegbite, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ondo State Council, said the appointment was a clear testimony of Mr Aragbaiye’s qualities as a reliable, efficient, humble, competent and trustworthy top Civil Servant.

“NUJ which believes that these qualities would enable the HOS to reposition the state Civil Service for a better outputs, looks forward to a smooth working relationship between his office and media professionals in the state for overall progress and development of the state.

 

The Union made a special request from the Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) and Mr Aragbaiye to use their exalted positions to ensure the elevation of at least one of the Directors at the State Ministry of Information and Orientation as well as qualified journalists at OSRC to the Permanent Secretaries in the State.

“NUJ noted that such would correct aged-long marginalization of its senior members at the ministry where only one permanent Secretary (retired almost 20years ago) was appointed since the creation of the state in 1976 despite always parading best senior bureaucrats in the state civil service.

“It is the hope of the Union that Arakunrin Akeredolu as a legal Icon and the HOS as a man of justice, will halt this case of injustice to its members at the Ministry of Information when appointment of new set of permanent Secretaries will be carried out, as it was recently done in some states like Abia, Edo, Adamawa, Gombe, Borno, Bauchi and Niger states.

As a man of his word and trustworthy leader, Governor Akeredolu popularly known as “MR TALK & DO GOVERNOR” on March 8th, 2021 made history by approving the request of Ondo NUJ by appointing Mrs Julie Fayeun as one of the 19 new permanent secretaries in the state.

This unprecedented achievement can’t just happen without great input and commitment of our highly respected outgoing Head of Service (Dare Aragbaiye) as expressed by the pen professional Union.

The Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Ondo state Council on March 8th 2021 expressed delight over the appointment of one of its Senior members from State Information Chapel, MRS JULIE FAYEUN, as the Permanent Secretary in the State Civil Service by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.

In a Press Statement, the Union’s  state Chairman, NUJ notes that “We received the news of Mrs Fayeun’s appointment with great joy and full appreciation to Almight God, Mr Governor and the State Head of Service, Mr Oluwadare Aragbaiye.

“They did not disappoint us as we consistently reminded the governor in all our public Statements, private engagements and official letters to him and the HoS of the need to break this terrible jinx. We believe in the capacity of Mrs Fayeun that she will deliver.”

The Union says considering over 15 years of marginalization of Journalists and Information officers in the state public service in the appointment of Permanent secretaries, it is pertinent to express deep gratitude to Governor Akeredolu who promised to correct the injustice and today he has fulfilled his pledge made in November, 2019 when received Ondo NUJ Best Governor’s  Award at an event held at the Press Centre, Akure.

Ondo NUJ also commends the consistency and straightforwardness of the State Head of Service, Mr Aragbaiye who had continuously been assuring the Union’s leadership of the determination of the government to right the wrong against Journalists and Information managers in the state.

“We will not forget as well the roles played by the HoS and the Organised Labour especially NLC Chairman,  Comrade Sunday Adeleye-Oluwole in this appointment and approval of WEIGH-IN ALLOWANCE for our members last year.”

 

The NUJ Statement which congratulates Mrs Fayeun who is the most senior member in the State Ministry of Information, on her appointment, appeals to her to justify the confidence reposed in her by the state government and indeed the entire NUJ leadership in the state.

“This appointment is so significant that it will further encourage our members to put in their best in the service of the state, knowing fully well that they will surely get to the Zenith of their career,” the Union opined.

 

“Ondo NUJ also pleads with Governor Akeredolu to consider other qualified Directors in the state Ministry of Information, OSRC and the Information Department at local government level for future Permanent Secretaries appointment.”

THE ondo state Council of NUJ in December,  2020 honoured the Head of Service with the Award of Excellence as Distinguished Public Administrator of the year (2020). It’s a category of NUJ annual Award specially reserves for public servants who had distinguished themselves in their chosen careers.

Records show clearly that, under Aragbaiye’s watch, no worker in the service of ondo state was denied promotions as and when due.

Aragbaiye spoke with newsmen recently on some of the challenges facing the state on salary payment and the implementation of minimum wage which many states are yet to implement.

He said, “Yes it may be difficult (to implementthe minimum wage since 2020), considering Mr Governor’s Commitment to workforce, he was the one who insisted that we should implement the minimum wage very early (started in January, 2020).

“Even some of our workers felt if minimum wage would disturb regular payment of salaries, we should just leave it, but the Governor felt what is what doing at all is What doing well. Quickly we started it, not because it was convenient, but it is a policy to alleviate suffering of workers and improve on their welfare.

 

“He (governor) insisted we should do it, we engaged our workers and we concluded the negotiation. Workers’ Union leaders who came here to discuss said we should look at sustainability of what we are proposing to pay (as a minimum wage).

 

“Unfortunately, nobody knew COVID-19 was coming. We said we will continue to pray that nothing would disrupt it. But Covid-19 came, so if not for Covid-19 we could have settled all salary arrears.

“And know the second wave is on now, we will continue to pray, that’s why the Governor said anytime allocation comes (from the federation account), labour leaders should be invited. We believe the issue of percentage salaries will become things of the past once the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic goes down and the economy improves,” Aragbaiye said.

Mr. Dare Aragbaiye is a Member of both the CIPMN and the IPAN.  He is a Christian and Member of the Anglican Communion, Church of Nigeria.  His hobbies include Sports, Farming, Current Affairs among others.

Mr. Aragbaiye is married to Mrs. Loveth Oladunni Aragbaiye (Nee Omirin), while the marriage is blessed with four children, namely, Folarin, Olukemi, Taiwo and Kehinde.

When asked on his busy schedules and how he relaxes, Dare Aragbaiye said, “I relax with my families often, also at night and weekend, I have my grandchildren with me. I play with them.

“Also I like sports. I’m not an active player now, may be when I retire, I love games like badminton and Table tennis.”

Mr. Aragbaye’s mandatory retirement from service was expected to take effect from 11th March, 2020 but it will now happen on the March 11th, 2021.

Although Mr Dare Aragbaiye is retired, not tired and Governor Akeredolu can still entrust him with other responsibilities in the best interest of our dear Sunshine State.

Mr Dare Aragbaiye will remain one of the best Heads of Service ever in the history of Ondo state considering the fact that there is no perfect system in the world ,hence I say “Thank you for the genuine care you have shown our workers and pensioners in Ondo state and words are not enough to express how grateful the workers and indeed NUJ members are!”

Mr Oluwadare Aragbaiye will on Thursday 11th March, 2021 declare to his beloved wife (Mrs Oladunni, ‘honey, I’m home… for good!’.

 

Written by:
Prince Leke Adegbite,
General Secretary,
Nigeria Union of Journalists
Ondo state Council.
March 9th, 2021.

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