Character, Competence Of An Astute Public Servant, By Gidado Ibrahim

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“Scratch the surface of a true leader, or look beneath his or her personality, and you’ll find character.” This pithy observation by Brian Cooper, which contains a general truth, aptly captures the life of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Administration, Sir Christian Chinyeaka Ohaa.

The role of a permanent secretary in modern bureaucracies is complex, but with competence and dexterity it becomes easy. A permanent secretary is the stabiliser of the government machinery; hence, the position requires a deft manager of resources to be able to harness the potential of the government workforce for optimum productivity.

It becomes more expedient for a permanent secretary in charge of the nation’s capital, which is the melting point of all civilisations in Nigeria. It then requires a man with highly detribalised and consistent character like Ohaa. Since he took over as the permanent Secretary of the FCT about three years ago, a lot has changed.

One striking leadership trait Sir Ohaa has brought to bear in the administration of FCT is collaborative leadership. It is amazing what can be accomplished if a leader do not care who gets the credit. That is one of the subtleties Sir Ohaa has adopted in the management of the workforce in the nation’s capital.

He has brought finesse into the administration of the FCT, with cutting-edge innovations. In his engagements, he has proven the character of a man who can carry all and sundry along, irrespective of tribe, class or location.

Sir Ohaa, in the discharge of his duties, has remained steadfast to the code of ethics of the Civil Service, which is that a civil servant is required to be politically neutral so that he can serve faithfully. With this as the watchword, he has been able to discharge his official duties fairly to all the people without religious, class, gender, ethnic or any other sectional biases.

Another attribute Sir Ohaa has demonstrated for which he has been roundly commended is his ability to ensure prudent management of financial and human resources. In the formulation and implementation of government policies and programmes, he has has demonstrated an uncommon mastery.

Where a civil servant places public interests above personal aggrandisement, it reflects in the flow of government business. Sir Ohaa has exhibited in quantum excellent working relationships with the Minister of the territory, Mallam Muhammed Bello. His record of humility and subordination is unparalleled. That explains why he has continued to earn the trust of the Minister. In other ministries, friction and contention is the rule of the game but in the FCTA where Sir Ohaa serves as a permanent secretary, synergy is the name of the game.

Between Sir Ohaa and directors of the ministry is a seamless working relationship. Ever self-demeaning, Sir Ohaa doesn’t see the need to prove any point. That is why he is always ready to stoop to other levels in order to get things done. This quality has continued to earn him admiration from all and sundry, especially staff of the Ministry.

For Sir Ohaa, loyalty is absolute. It cannot be lopsided. He is, therefore, a man who believes that what individualism cannot achieve, teamwork can. What falsehood cannot achieve in a hundred years, sincerity, honesty and forthrightness can achieve in a jiffy.

In God’s wisdom, he has chosen to create only two eyes in front, which means that you need the protection and cooperation of others to be an all-round success. That is the magic wand that is Sir Ohaa’s greatest strength. As he has always warned, one must at all cost jump the temptation to be haughty or arrogant because in doing so comes destruction.

One of the philosophy underpinning Sir Ohaa’s life is, ‘tomorrow is always better than today’; hence, one should jump the temptation to eating his tomorrow today. That means corruption destroys the future. This philosophy has helped him to remain above board. In his dictionary, the watchwords are honesty and patience, the combination of which can take anyone to the Zenith of his or her carrier.

By way of background, Mr Ohaa hails from Obuoffia, Nkanu West local government area of Enugu State. He was born into Chief Ohaa Owo’s family on the 4th of February 1961. He is happily married with children. He is a humble and resilient achiever, who has progressively and timely obtained various academic qualifications as follows: GCE-1979, WASC (Division 1)-1980, Higher National Diploma in Finance-1985, PGD, Accountancy & Finance-1990, MBA, Banking & Finance-1992.

In pursuit of his career, Ohaa obtained membership of various professional bodies, including Fellow, National Accountant of Nigeria (FCNA)-2010 and Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN)-2012, among others.

Sir Ohaa has an elaborate working experience in both public and private sectors, starting from the then Co-operative & Commerce Bank of Nigeria Ltd where he did his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) (1985 – 1986). After his Service year he was appointed Senior Bursar, Enugu State Education Commission (1986 – 1989), Company’s Accountant, Vanguard Industries Ltd, Enugu State (1989 – 1992), Personal Assistant to Hon Commissioner of Finance, Enugu State (1992 -1993), Sub-Treasurer (Treasury Hqtrs), Office of Accountant General Enugu State (1993 – 1996), Sub-Treasurer (Lands) Office of Accountant General Enugu State (1996 – 1999).

He was eventually appointed Accountant General of Enugu State (1999 – 2006), and the Hon. Commissioner for Agriculture (2006 – 2007). Thereafter he transferred his Service to the Federal Civil Service and was appointed Deputy Director (Account), Federal Ministry of Labour & Productivity (2007 – 2009).

In 2009, he became the Head, (Internal Audit) Ministry of Defence, a position he held until 2012, when he was posted to Federal Ministry of Transport as Director Finance & Account (2012 – 2013), later Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Director Finance & Account, and finally he was appointed Permanent Secretary, Federal Republic of Nigeria in November 2015.

Ohaa has wide range of exposure and knowledge from various international courses he attended, including Mandatory Continuing Professional Education (MCPE) of ANAN; Strategic Planning for Security and Development, London 2010; Security Awareness and Strategic Leadership, London 2012; Mandatory Continuous Professional Education (MCPE) of CITN, and many other leadership training in USA and Dubai, among others.

He is known by many for his passion for youth development and empowerment, rural/grassroots development, selfless service to humanity and hard work. He is also a notable and prominent community and religious leader for which he has held various positions, including national president, Awkunanaw Welfare Association, and Lay president, Methodist Church Nigeria, Agbani Diocese, among others.

Sir Ohaa’s tenacity, transparency and patriotism as well as selfless service to humanity and contribution to national development were eventually discovered. Thus, he was rewarded with the appointment of a federal permanent secretary.

Ibrahim is director of communication and strategic planning of the Presidential Support Committee (PSC).


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