By Tajudeen Kareem
On this auspicious occasion, we expect drums and merriment. But for Olusegun Adeyemi Adekunle, 60 years old on May 1, it is a day to roll up his sleeves and serve his country, diligently as he has done in the last 36 years!
So, family prayers over, off to the daily meeting of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, where his boss, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, superintends. Adekunle, as permanent secretary, general services office, co-ordinates the activities of the task force, providing critical linkages with the federal bureaucracy, the presidency, sub-national governments and entities.
Olusegun Adeyemi Adekunle who clocked 60 on Friday, May 1, 2020, has come a long way. Born to the famous family of the Adekunle of Ogbomoso in Oyo State, he is a nephew of Nigeria’s civil war hero, the late Brig-Gen Benjamin Adekunle.
Raised on a diet of discipline and purposefulness, he had his early education in Ilorin; did his Higher School Certificate at the Federal Government College, Ogbomoso and graduated at the University of Ilorin in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History.
Thus began his trajectory of career growth when he started as an Administrative Officer in 1984 in the Federal Civil Service. He was deployed to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, where he served until 1999 in several capacities. He was saddled with diverse responsibilities which he discharged with diligence. As an administrative officer he was to oversee such crucial implementation of activities and responsibilities as well as monitoring the implementation of Federal Executive Council and the then Supreme Military Council conclusions during the military regime of the time. He discharged his responsibilities and was also at various times Administrative Officer in charge of the Department of Forestry Resources, Department of Agricultural Land Resources and Department of Fisheries.
These were tentative steps that were then perhaps serving as the touchstone of bigger responsibilities that lay ahead for Olusegun in the Federal Civil Service. After Nigeria’s return to civil rule in 1999 he was deployed to the Federal Ministry of Aviation through 2000 as Principal Administrative Officer, Planning. For this he was solely responsible for coordination and implementation of annual work plans for the Aviation Sector; monitoring the implementation of approved Aviation Sector Programmes and Projects in conjunction with National Planning Commission. These were no mean tasks. Between 2000 and 2001, he became Principal Administrative Officer/Principal Assistant to the Permanent Secretary. In this position, he was charged with the onerous responsibilities of coordinating the preparation, implementation and monitoring of annual budgets; coordination of the implementation of all Federal Executive Council decisions; coordination of Interim Management Committees supervising the National Insurance Corporation, Security Printing and Minting Corporation, Securities and Exchange Commission; as well as the coordination of overall organizational management role of the Permanent Secretary. He also served as Personal Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Gambo Jimeta.
To reach the peak, Adekunle ‘rolled’ and gathered experience at several ministries, department and agencies cutting across Aviation, Finance, Commerce, Petroleum Resources, Water Resources, Industry, Trade and Investment as well as World Bank projects.
As the Yoruba say, “A child that knows how to wash his hands would dine with elders”. Olusegun Adekunle falls squarely into this frame. He has discharged his duties well from all responsibilities that have been assigned to him, in the office and at other fora. He rose from being an administrative officer in the service to the top of his profession when he became Permanent Secretary, General Service Office, at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in August, 2017.
In this position he functions as the coordinator of bureaucracy at the OSGF, the engine room of the Federal Government. It was as if his experience and discipline was foreseen to be needed because Adekunle retired formally in September 2019 after clocking 35 years in service. However, President Muhammadu Buhari gave him a year extension on account of his wealth of experience and strategic position. That decision was fortuitous, as Adekunle has brought his rich experience to bear on the assignment of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.
Some of those who have related with him praise his dedication and commitment. Damilola Oni aka Omo Baba eee, waxed poetic in a tribute on the occasion of Adekunle’s birthday. “Your selflessness is a sun within the galaxy of stars; humility in the midst of great affluence; integrity personified even when others have thrown it into the deep blue sea. The strength that covers the weakness of others, you have touched lives, wiped tears and put smiles on the faces of countless people. Simple and arms open wide to all; priceless loyalty to hierarchy; inestimable price of the public servic and the rainbow of mentorship. Your memory is on marble hearts. Happy birthday to my father and mentor,” said Damilola.
Adekunle did not only distinguish himself at work, he is also a man who finds time, despite his busy schedules, to serve God. Venerable Ernest Onuoha of All Saints Anglican Church, Wuse Zone 5 Abuja, says of Adekunle: “Indeed, you are worth celebrating not only as a member of the Parish Church Council or a Synod delegate or a member of the Church Renovation committee but as a humble man of God who lives sacrificially and touches lives quietly. No one can adequately reward you for the milk of human kindness which you have expressed severally in every department of the church. Therefore, we pray God to bless you and your family in Jesus name.”
The women organization of the church under the leadership of Mummy Chioma also sent him a happy 60th birthday wish just as Ademola Dare-Williams, President, Ogbomoso First Group said, in his message: “Words are insufficient and inadequate for me to describe my great “aburo” on the attainment of the auspicious and glorious occasion of clocking 60 years and becoming a member of the ‘Diamond’ club. We all know the worth of diamond – valuable, radiant, and indeed precious. My dear Segun possesses all these sterling qualities. He has used his God-given talents of intelligence, humility, kindness and generosity to add value to the lives of all the people privileged to have come across his path.”
The University of Ilorin Alumni Association, Abuja Chapter, in a tribute, said: “We pray that you enjoy many more years of service to mankind and continue to be a blessing unto us and several others. May God continue to enrich you with knowledge, wisdom and understanding as you continue to lead the team.”
There is no doubt that Olusegun Adekunle has done his hometown Ogbomoso and his Adekunle heritage a world of good, both in education and character. Segun’s mate at Saint Barnabas’ Primary School, Ilorin, Folusho Omodele, a consultant surgeon, decribes him as one from “a strong Christian home who showed leadership qualities since his youthful days in Ilorin. I am not surprised at all when he was appointed a federal permanent secretary, shortly after that he was knighted in the Church. All these traits were inherited from his parents and we expect nothing less from this faithful, amiable unassuming gentleman.”
Toyin Onayingbo is Adekunle’s driver. He has worked since 1988 with a man he describes as “open and very accommodating” to all irrespective of tribe or religion “His selflessness is unquantifiable and he is always willing to offer the hand of support to all manner of people,” said Toyin who offered profuse prayers for his boss and mentor.
At 60, Adekunle, who holds a Law degree from the University of Abuja and Nigeria Law School, Abuja as well as a Master in Public Administration from University of Ilorin, certainly has more to offer his country. As he steps into his diamond year, this is wishing him good health and more meritorious service to his father land.
*Kareem is a public affairs analyst.
– May 1, 2020 @ 15:49 GMT |