The President of KAFTAN Group, King Adewole Adebayo, has urged civil servants in the country to follow the patriotic path of Prof. Edet Antai Ekerendu, a retired Permanent Secretary in the Federal Civil Service.
King Adebayo gave the charge at an event on Thursday to mark Prof Ekerendu’s 80th birthday and book launch in his honour at the NAF Conference Centre, Abuja.
Born on June 7, 1941, Ekerendu, a native of Urue-Offong/Oruko in Akwa Ibom State enjoyed an illustrious career that spanned nearly four decades in the civil service, taking up several roles in different ministries.
From a Deputy Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance between 1972-81, he eventually rose to become a director and served as Permanent Secretary in the ministries of Industry as well as Power and Steel.
In his opening remark as Chairman of the occasion, King Adebayo challenged the current crop of public servants to be up and doing and learn from Professor Ekerendu’s patriotic zeal, commitment and selfless service to his country.
According to King Adebayo, the octogenarian is a development economist, pan Africanist and a civil servant of no blemish who served the country with all his strength.
“In my encounter with him when he was Permanent Secretary Ministry of Power, Ekerendu is a man of integrity and great honour who have done great in service to his fatherland and I can vouch for him anywhere,” the renowned legal practitioner said.
“To be 80 years in Africa, especially at this time is a lot of luck and it is sufficient enough prayer that anyone will say, despite what is going on in the world and especially in our part of the world when you get to 80 years old in good health and sound mind, that is a great achievement.
“I have known the celebrant for a long time. Suffice to say that his presence in the Nigerian Public Service is just to show that what Nigeria lacks are not men or women of quality or goodwill. What Nigeria lacks are other things. For any country in the World to have the goodluck of having someone like Prof. Edet Antai Ekerendu, who served his country with all his strength, that country should be a first-class world nation.
“This is because Ekerendu is a first-class world economist, a top-class Civil Servant; highly dedicated. I’m saying this with evidence as an observer of Ekerendu when he was Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power at a time Dr. Joseph Makoju was MD of NEPA; late Engr. Foluseke Somolu was Executive Director of NEPA; Dr. Olusegun Agagu was Minister of State Power while Danjuma Goje served as Minister of Power and Liyel Imoke as Special Adviser to the President on Power,” King Adebayo stressed.
“The amount of work their team did when it comes to rural electrification was the best in this Country. For rural electrification in Nigeria, Prof. Ekerendu gave it all and if Nigeria had continued at the pace they were doing the work, Nigeria would have been the net exporter of electricity today.
“Nigeria was lucky at the time of Prof. Ekerendu but now that it matters most, the country is not lucky to have his kind.
“One of the things Nigeria should learn from Prof. Ekerendu is that, ‘whatever you do in the Public Service is not done in vain’. Prof. Ekerendu served Nigeria like a slave and not like a citizen”.
Besides his years in the civil service, Prof. Ekerendu had a successful spell in the African Development Bank (AfDB) where he served as Director on Secondment between 1981 and 1990.
Remembering his time there, Mr Adebayo said, “When you speak to people like Oloye Ogunjobi, another Nigerian Titan at the African Development Bank, they will tell you that Nigeria is a blessed country and I hope that in the many years that God will give to Prof. Ekerendu, he will be able to train as many of his type as possible”.
He, however, admitted that civil servants of today have a lot to learn from Ekerendu.
“In my interaction with Civil servants, if you look at the character of Prof. Ekerendu’s generation with what Nigeria have now, you will see that Nigeria have a lot of work to do,” King Adebayo stated.
“When you look at people like Ekerendu, you will remember people like Philip Asiodu, you will remember people like Dr Erik Adewole, who happens to be my uncle and Permanent Secretary, State House at that time. They were people who took their time to learn the ropes and know the sincerity in public service.
“Dr Joseph Sanusi, who works with the Central Bank of Nigeria then, told me that, ‘he was happy and cheerful in the work he does because he could use his pen to turn people to billionaires and not interested and that he does that daily as part of his work, go home and sleep without remembering what he had done.
“According to him, that was his joy as a public servant and that is what Prof. Ekerendu has done for Nigeria and Nigerians. He was devoted and still devoted.
“I hope that in the cause of studying Prof. Ekerendu’s book, we will find a pathway to a better Civil Service without which the Country cannot move forward”.
The book, ‘Manpower Placement and Utilization in the Federal Civil Service’ authored by Prof. Ekerendu was launched at the event as a guide to young civil servants.