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Oronsaye: A Quintessential Administrator

On November 16, 2010, Mr. Steve Oronsaye’s appointment as Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, HOCSF, came to an end having reached the mandatory retirement age of 60 years.  He was appointed into the office by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on June 12, 2009.  Until his appointment, Mr. Oronsaye was permanent secretary, in the federal ministry of finance.  He succeeded Ms Ama Inyingiala Pepple, a Fellow of the Petroleum Training Institute, FPTI, the first and only woman to have bagged the prestigious honour. Ms Pepple became a fellow of the institute when she was permanent secretary in the ministry of petroleum resources. Mr. Oronsaye, an accountant came into the federal civil service from Peat Marwick, Ani Ogunde firm of chartered accountants from where he served as personal assistant to Chief Anthony Ani who was finance minister during Abacha’s regime.  Oronsaye left government with Ani, immediately the Abdulsalami government changed the cabinet in 1998.  However, due to his professional competence in public service matters, he was brought back to the presidency in 1999 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo as a permanent secretary in the State House.One thing that was very unique about the system of administration of Steve Oronsaye was his visionary ability and agility for a functional and viable public service in Nigeria.  He tried to rebuild the damaged and bastavdised structure in the public service in order to ensure peace, stability, equity and motivation by injecting young and new blood into the top echelon of the public service. Oronsaye during his tenure as HOCSF knew the developmental problems of the nation’s civil service and decided to tackle them decisively without fear or favour.Oronsaye probably believed in the statement of James Oppenheim: “learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow.”  He equally shares a thought with Max De Oree who said “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.  The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” One can boldly and proudly say that Steve Oronsaye was a true leader because true leaders are known to build legacies, mobilise and harness resources through motivated people as well as develop successors.  His credentials and achievements in the public service are as profound as they are intimidating.  He was an embodiment of humility and amiability.  The Edo State born administrator of high repute who served in both the private and public sectors must have been propelled by the evergreen lines of some philosophers that the heights attained by great men were not attained by a sudden flight.  While their mates indulged in wild revelry they stayed awake burning the midnight candle.  This counsel, indeed, may have permeated his mind right from his childhood.  He has remained an inspiring learner, devoting individual attention to his studies and assisting in bringing others to a certain level.  He is one person who believes in the power of the intellect as the legendary philosopher Aristotle said: “Reading maketh an exact man.” Mr. Oronsaye demonstrated that he is not only a responsible citizen but also committed to the restoration and realisation of the vision of the current democratic government.  I think and believe this is an opportunity to acknowledge his gentleman-like qualities, strength of character, consistency, humility and wisdom.As HOCSF Oronsaye was too clean to lie; too principled to compromise unnecessarily; too intelligent to be manipulated; too certain not to bow to pressures; too sure of his goal in any administrative assignment; and too excellent as a rational schemer.  One can proudly recall his activities in the public service, which have also shown he identified with the vision and aspiration of the people.  He has succeeded in charting a new course for the civil service through his marvelous projects that helped to project and protect the image of the public service generally.  Since the civil service is the engine room of any democratic government, this is the time for critical reappraisal to ensure that the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs of the federal government are achieved.  It is therefore a truism to say that the only way to achieve this is by way of rededication to duty and service, and above all, loyalty and commitment to the cause of our nation. Charles Ikedikwa Soeze is Chief Officer, Administration, at the Petroleum Training Institute, PTI, Effurun.
By Charles Ikedikwa Soeze

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