Awo’s Private Secretary Advocates Political Heads, Civil Servants’ Debate


Abimbola Akosile

Former Private Secretary to Chief Obafemi Awolowo, poet and governorship aspirant in Edo State, Odia Ofeimun, has called for a serious intellectual debate between political heads and civil servants, as one of the ways of getting back proper governance in Nigeria.

Ofeimun made the call in Ibadan weekend while on a courtesy call to the Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP), and cited an example of what transpired between Awolowo, who was former Premier of the Western region, and Federal Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Alhaji Abdul Aziz Attah.

According to the poet, debates between Awolowo, Vice Chairman of the Federal Executive Council and Federal Commissioner of Finance under General Yakubu Gowon and Attah were such that gave Awolowo the profound success he recorded in the cabinet.

“Most civil servants of today would not dare have the kind of intense debate that happened between Awolowo and Attah. Indeed, there were a crop of civil servants who could debate with Awolowo on the running of government and society. He and Attah debated on every stratum of society, from socialism to economy, between state-run economy and private sector-run economy.

“That was why Awolowo told anyone who cared to listen that Attah was one of the best civil servants he ever came across. Civil servants should be trained and brought to the level where they would believe they won’t get hurt if they criticize political heads.

“There should be civil servants who would stand up to political heads because they get away with so many things. When you have civil servants that you can’t debate with, the quality of decision is bound to be worse off. That probably was why Chief Philip Asiodu said if political office holders wanted to take stupid decisions, civil servants should help them not to,” the poet said.
He lauded the school for still believing in the knowledge industry and training of leaders in the country.