It was a day of encomiums and moving testimonials at the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing on Tuesday May 28 as the management staff of the ministries gathered to bid farewell to the outgoing Minister, Babatunde Fashola SAN and Minister of State, Mustapha Baba Shehuri.
Fashola In his valedictory address, Fashola speaking on some of the good works under his watch, urged the staff to continue with the rainy season and the Ember months preparations, pointing out that they are critical for making life easier for the people of Nigeria at the time when they need it most.
“During the rains when they need to travel and during the Ember months when traffic is high and when they are going on holidays. Please continue and improve on these initiatives,” he urged.
Fashola, who commended the staff for the quality of their work, said although he could not successfully know everyone’s name and face within his tenure, he had come to know all of them by the quality of their work because, according to him, “I read your memos and you sign off on them.”
Describing the civil service as a place where the country has leveraged on its diversity, the minister, who pointed out that the team he has worked with reflected the nation’s diversity, added, “From the Sahel to the Coast, down to the Creeks, everybody is here represented in one way or the other.”
Fashola urged civil servants to key into the vision of Change by the President who, according to him, has indicated his intention “to move a lot faster” in this second dispensation adding that when the President begins the envisaged move, he would expect the civil servants by his side to support him.
Expressing confidence that the civil servants would live up to the billing of Mr. President, the minister declared, “One of the things I learnt in the civil service in 2002 is that within the civil service, nothing is impossible”, adding that “the civil service is a place where Nigeria’s quest in her race to the First World will be won or lost.”
Fashola, who thanked the staff, whom he described as “a great team” for their keeping pace with him and enduring his schedules in spite of the inconveniences some times, added, “I want to apologize to those I invaded their privacy with my phone calls and text messages. I apologize to your spouses and your children because it was done only in the national interest.” Also read: Nigeria among leaders in renewable energy, says Fashola “Those of you I have offended one way or the other, I am not perfect, I am flawed; but I did not offend you deliberately.
If I did, it was unintentional; my apology is deep, it is profound, it is unreserved”, he said, adding that he could not thank all individually because as a team and a chain “it is impossible to thank one without thanking the other.”
Responding to our enquiry by one of the speakers as to whether or not he has leisure times against the backdrop of his frenetic work pace, the former Minister said football remains his favourite leisure and also keeping fit, which he said was his freest time as well as sharing drinks and snacks together in those places, playing snooker, reading and watching documentaries including films.
In his remarks, the outgoing Minister of State in the Ministry, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri, expressed appreciation to the Minister, whom he described as an embodiment of hard work, for his visionary leadership, excellent, innovative, focused and integrity base, which, according to him, “made it possible for us to hold and discharge our responsibility reasonably well”.
“You kept encouraging us so much even at the time when things were so challenging. As a result of your support, hard work and dedication the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has achieved a lot of successes”, the Minister said adding, “I am very sure that we are leaving this Ministry better than we met it”. He also thanked the staff of the Ministry for the cooperation they had given the Ministers in carrying out their duties praising their sense of duty which, according to him had enabled the Ministry to attain a lot of success for the country in the space of time under their watch.
The Permanent Secretary (Works and Housing), Mr. Mohammed Bukar, commended the two outgoing Ministers for repositioning the Ministry for greater productivity and efficient service delivery through their able leadership and guidance adding that the Ministry was now a Team that effectively delivers on the mandate.
Describing Fashola as a man of vision in his remarks, the Director Public Buildings and Housing Development, Mr. Dickson Onoja, said Fashola had taken the ministry through a roller coaster ride of activities in the last three and a half years listing his achievements to include the establishment of a National Building Code, National Public Building Management Policy and the provision of the National Housing Programme at a period when the nation was earning less revenue earning, among others.
Other speakers included the Managing Director of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, Arch. Ahmed Dangiwa, who described the Minister as an epitome of excellence, a living example and a role model pointing out that as a role model, when he took office as Managing Director the Minister acted as both board members and board chairman as the bank had none of these then.
The Managing Director, Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Engineer Nurudeen Rafindadi, described Fashola as a great performer, who has proved his mettle especially as Governor of Lagos State and at the national level adding that in the short while he has been in FERMA, the Minister has initiated programmes that have reawakened the Agency to its obligations.
Saying he was not surprised that the Fashola has performed so well as Minister of three key and critical Ministries, the FERMA boss recalled an event in 2009 when the former Minister was honoured by the Nigerian Society of Engineers alongside then General Muhammadu Buhari quoting President Buhari as saying he was certain Nigeria would get it right if governments at all levels in the country toed the path of Lagos State under the leadership of the Governor of Lagos State.
Describing the former Minister of State as a great team player, Rafindadi declared, “I have learnt from the two Ministers, in the short space of time I have been here, a lot of things including inspirations in the way the key infrastructure ministry and the agencies as well as security agencies help in holding responsibility for the maintenance of roads.”
The Director Human Resources, Works and Housing, Mrs. Isang Iwara, extolled the qualities of humility and concern for the welfare of others, especially subordinates, which she found in the outgoing Ministers, recalling occasions when in her short stay with the two Ministers those qualities were made manifest.
In his goodwill remarks, the Director of Highways, Planning and Development, Engr. Uzo centred his commendation of the former Minister on his extraordinary passion and dedication to duty with which he carried his subordinates along and also his realization that funding was key to successful project execution pointing particularly to the way he put up innovative means to finance the projects.
He recalled that for the first time in 2017, the Ministry had a successful SUKUK which was oversubscribed by N105Billion and which the outgoing Minister made sure was shared equally within the six geopolitical zones of the country adding that based on that success, the 2018 SUKUK was even more oversubscribed by N132Billion and the excess was returned while N100Billion was shared.
Noting that the Second Niger Bridge, for the first time received a full advance payment of over N31Billion, which, according to him, had never happened before in the Ministry which never paid beyond N500 Million on occasions adding that going by the former method of payment it would have taken 30 years to complete the advance payment of N31Billion by which time the contractor would be demanding a review of the contract.
Other speakers also recalled the numerous innovations introduced by the former Minister which have enabled the Ministry attained remarkable successes and set it on the road to even greater achievements. Some of the innovations, according to one Speaker, include conception and production of a National Building Maintenance Policy, the installation and maintenance of Toll Plazas, Weigh Bridges as well as Road Signage and Lane Markings for safety on the roads and better planned journeys.
In his vote of thanks to round off the occasion, the Permanent Secretary, Power, Engr. Louis Edozien, commended the Ministers for reviving many hitherto comatose projects in the Power, Works and Housing sectors and putting them back on track adding, “Clearly you have left indelible marks in the hearts of those of us you are leaving behind for now and that is evidenced by all the commentaries we have heard on this occasion”.
The occasion, anchored by the Director of Press in the Ministry, Mr. Theodore Ogaziechi was rounded off with the presentation of souvenirs and gifts to the two outgoing Ministers by Departments and Agencies under the Ministry as well as individual gifts to the two personalities. Fashola handing over to the Permanent Secretary, Permanent Secretary, Power, Engr. Louis Edozien (right),during the Valedictory Meeting with the Top Management Staff of the Ministry of Power, Works & Housing at its Headquarters in Mabushi, Abuja.