The annals of public service is littered with the sorry tales of bright minds whose spark fizzled out much too soon, snuffled out by the overpowering gusts of transient fame. They fell into the traps of power, losing the ideals that got them there in the first place. They became the embodiment of the vices they vowed to stamp out while they yet walked among the rank and file.
Perhaps, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, the Head of Service in Lagos State, has peeked into the chapters on some of his predecessors. For a man who assumed his exalted status ahead of more tenured employees of the Lagos Civil Service, he bestrides those giddy heights as if he is un-awed by it. Those who thought he would be overwhelmed by the responsibilities of the office have been recalibrating their permutations. Hakeem exudes the authority and control redolent of a seasoned veteran.
With less than a year under his belt, his presence is already being felt up and down the corridors and along the halls of the state’s civil service. He has initiated several processes designed to streamline operations in accordance with best practices as obtainable in advanced climes. Though concern was raised in some quarters as regards his approach to the job, he has proved surprisingly accessible to the majority of those who need his attention for one thing or the other.
The only wailing group are those cadres of political hangers-on and career lobbyists who are unhappy with his disinterest in their incessant whingeing. But as far as Hakeem is concerned, his status as the H.O.S is not a platform to trade political favours on a whim.
HMO, as he is fondly addressed, began his fast rise through the rungs of public career at Ibile Holdings, an investment arm of the Lagos State Government. The first son of the late respected Justice Muritala Okunola caught the eye of then Lagos governor Bola Tinubu and the latter made him his personal assistant. Hakeem’s upward trajectory landed him as a permanent secretary deployed to the Lagos State Lands Bureau in 2011.