Former Edo State governor and ex-National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has revealed that his unwavering stance as a Permanent Secretary in the Federal Civil Service during the military regime ultimately led to his early retirement at the age of 48.
Odigie-Oyegun made this disclosure on Saturday during his concluding remarks at the official inauguration of the John Odigie-Oyegun Public Service Academy. The academy, named in his honor by the Edo State government, commemorates his 84th birthday and recognizes his 19 years of distinguished service as a federal civil servant.
He recounted, “I had the audacity to express my preferences as a Permanent Secretary in order to avoid getting entangled in trouble. During the Ibrahim Babangida administration, I was assigned to various ministries, including the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.”
He further elaborated, “Upon assuming this role, the military authorities promptly handed me a list of individuals slated for retirement. However, I was not tasked with the actual retirement but rather to compile a report for the Public Service Commission, detailing the reasons. I held discussions with my commissioner, a military officer, who was unable to provide any justification for their retirement other than orders from higher-ups.”
Odigie-Oyegun went on, “The IBB regime appointed three military officers to oversee import licenses. I was informed that I would be responsible for signing all these licenses. Politely, I declined, citing that it wasn’t within my purview and that such actions contradicted my values.”
“In the aftermath of that conversation, I sensed that my termination was imminent. I proactively reported the situation to the Head of Service of the Federation. In anticipation of being relieved of duty, I instructed my secretary to prepare a resignation letter. I believed it was better to retire on my own terms than to be ousted by the military. Such decisions demand courage and the fortitude to uphold integrity and principles,” he recounted.
“During a crisis at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, I was the sole authority to sign Nigerian passports. I fulfilled my responsibilities diligently, steadfastly maintaining my integrity. I chose to retire at the age of 48 after serving for 19 years.”
He also praised the governor for the state’s advancements and the transformation of its civil and public services. He urged state civil servants to remain dedicated and principled in their work, assuring them that their efforts would eventually yield rewards.
Odigie-Oyegun expressed gratitude, stating, “I extend my thanks to Governor Obaseki and his wife for honoring me while I am still alive. This recognition is deeply fulfilling, and I am immensely proud to have a building named after me. I’ve received calls from all corners of the globe, acknowledging the structure named in my honor, and I proudly tell them that it was my governor’s initiative.”
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