Many public officials often fail to realise that power is transient, and things can change in a split second. Most of them are fond of dissociating themselves from people, especially when they occupy top positions. They become aloof from those they used to know before climbing the corporate ladder.
Before getting to power, they will always pick your calls or return your calls whenever they missed it. The story changes as soon as they occupy new offices and they will stop picking up their calls. They wouldn’t return calls and give excuses whenever you bump into them by chance. It is common to hear excuses like, ‘I was busy … my job is very tasking’, or “I was with the Governor” and the likes. These are the usual lines they give even when they are not truly busy when you called.
I decided to write this column in respect to our Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat. I have known him since he was a commissioner for Works under Fashola’s administration. I met him on the job and we forged a cordial relationship, which has lasted till date. One thing that baffled me then was his responses to phone calls. Unlike many Commissioners and Permanent Secretaries, he would pick his calls or text back whenever he missed a call from me. When he became Deputy Governor of the State, I thought he would no longer pick my calls because he has a more demanding job, but to my utmost surprise, he always picked my calls. Since he became Deputy Governor, I can recall more than ten occasions he has picked my calls, called me back or texted me. This gentleman’s attitude impressed me so much and I am grateful for that.
For several decades of working in Alausa with various Governors, Commissioners, Special Advisers and Permanent Secretaries, I have experienced and can say that 80 percent of them don’t pick calls. But for Dr. Hamzat, it is different. Most times, when I had information, suggestion, or opinions for the State Government for him, the Deputy Governor always picked his calls and listened to the information. He would act on it or clarify any misconception to me. I believe this is how a responsible public officer should act, and I am very proud of him.
One can understand the Governor’s busy schedule; whenever he can’t pick nor return a call, he is justified because he has barrage of phone calls to attend to in a day. But what about his Commissioners, Permanent Secretaries and Special Advisers? Whenever you phone them to ask for information, they will never pick up your call neither will they return it. They should remember that one day, they will leave the very office they occupy today, and the legacy they leave behind is what people will remember them for.
However, I must say that there are some exceptional cases in this present cabinet, of some officials who return missed calls and send texts when they can’t answer your call. Among them is the incumbent Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, who always responds to his calls or call back whenever he can’t answer your call or send you and sms.
Also, the incumbent Head of Service, Mr. MuriOkunola, is a young brilliant guy, who will always call back or text whenever he is too busy to answer your call. The Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr. GboyegaSoyannwo is another serious Public Officer who will always answer your calls and discuss sensitive issues. When he can’t answer your call due to job pressure, he will send you sms.
Also, the incumbent Commissioner for Information, Mr. GbengaOmotoso, and his Permanent Secretary, Mr. Shina Thorpe are always eager to give you information any time you ask of them.
I have decided to write this column for our Public Officers and charge them to emulate the Deputy Governor who always answers his calls without excuses. The Deputy Governor has consistently maintained his cordial relationship with people he knows before occupying his current position, and it is obvious that he will uphold this gentleman virtue even when he occupies a bigger office. Other Public Officials must tow the path of the Deputy Governor; after all, Public Officers are there to serve us, why should they avoid calls whenever people need to reach them? I am proud of Deputy Governor Obafemi Hamzat and I pray that Allah continues to bless him in all his endeavours. He is the type of man we need in government, the type who listens to people’s cry and take necessary actions.