We have just witnessed the swearing-in of the newly appointed Secretary to the Delta State Government, Hon. Barrister Festus Ovie Agas. Exactly three days ago, I announced the appointment of Hon. Agas as Secretary to the State Government. It was an announcement that many were not expecting at the time it was made. But that element of surprise only served to excite the audience who broke out in spontaneous jubilation that almost ended our lunch prematurely. Judging by the euphoria that greeted Hon. Agas’s appointment, it is self- evident that this administration has struck the right note with its first appointment.
Now, as it is often the case in our environment, people have various reasons for celebrating when such a political appointment is made. For some, it is for parochial reasons, for others it is for pecuniary considerations, while yet for others, it is for an opportunity to gain unrestricted access to, and undue favour from, the corridors of power. In our society where leadership is often associated with position and power, and the appropriation of the commonwealth for selfish purposes, it can be very tempting to forget that leadership is about SERVICE, service unencumbered by ethnicity, nepotism and greed.
As I made clear in my inaugural speech, "the future that we all seek has no room for parochial interests and self-ambition but mutual cooperation and benevolent spirit that recognises and caters for the yearnings and aspirations of the citizens…Deltans must be willing to commit themselves to the new order, an era of love for all, where the good of all takes precedence over the gain of one. The watchword for this administration remains fairness, equity and justice.”
The office of the SSG is often described – and rightly so – as the engine room of government. Thus, the SSG is required to coordinate the activities of all Ministries, Departments and Agencies. He is the Chief Adviser to the Governor. Aside from being the Secretary of the State Executive Council, the SSG liaises between the State Government, other State Governments and the Federal Government.
But perhaps the greatest test of the SSG is his ability to marry policy – where the Administration wants to go – and politics
– how it mobilises support to get there. He should be able to reconcile and harmonise the different views of the various MDAs on policy and politics in such a manner as to drive the agenda of the administration while building bridges of cooperation and understanding with all involved. Hence, the SSG must be a consensus builder, adept at managing various persuasions and resolving conflicts. I have no doubt that Hon. Agas has the training and qualifications required as Secretary to the State Government, being an experienced legislator, administrator and passionate Deltan.
The art of governance has become so complex and demanding that positions of leadership require efficient, articulate and progressive- minded persons who are flexible and team players. I am happy to inform this gathering that Hon. Agas meets these criteria and it explains why he has been brought on board to contribute his quota to the social, political and economic development of our dear State.
I congratulate him on his appointment. It is my sincere hope that you will justify the confidence reposed in you by working assiduously to achieve the corporate goals of this administration. As a government, we have the responsibility to harness the resources of the State and bring about a new lease of life to meet the expectations of our people. Let me, therefore, clearly state that much is required from you.
As l have always noted, this administration wants to hit the ground running; there is no time for apprenticeship. We need to have in government people that know what governance is all about and can function with minimum supervision. We would, therefore, go for persons we can entrust with certain levels of responsibility so that governance can go on seamlessly.
As SSG, you should be conscious of the enormous responsibilities, which have been thrust on your shoulders. You are the fulcrum around which government business revolves. You have to be tactful, objective, just, resourceful and calm at all times. It is necessary that you pursue your duties with the required diligence. Be reminded of the State government’s avowed commitment to transparency, accountability, justice and fairness. We need to continuously engage our people, feel their pulse and remain sensitive to their wellbeing.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as I said in my Inaugural Address, we have a clear vision of what we plan to do in the next four years as outlined in our Five-Point agenda encapsulated in the acronym, S.M.A.R.T. It is to enthrone a legacy of wealth and prosperity for all our people and communities. We are committed to building a State in which there shall be employment opportunities, a flourishing agriculture and agribusiness sector, effective health and educational systems, renewed urban infrastructure, and enhanced security and peace to bolster economic growth and development. I advise the new Secretary to the State Government to avail himself of the necessary laws that guide governance and, especially, my Inaugural Address to be abreast with the policy direction of this government.
I want to reassure the good people of Delta State that this administration will leave no stone unturned to ensure that development is brought to every corner of this State, but we will need time to deal with the challenge of debt overhang. We will evolve policies and programmes that will ensure the greatest happiness for the greatest number of Deltans.
- Speech at the swearing-in of Secretary to the State Government at the Unity Hall, Old Government House, Asaba.