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Jimi Agbaje Condemned Over Attack On New Lagos HoS, Muri-Okunola

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The Governorship Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje has been lambasted for condemning the appointment of Hakeem Muri-Okunola aka HMO as Head of Service, HoS of Lagos State. 

The Convener of Ibile Progressive Youths, IPY, Bayo Plunter in a press statement issued on Friday and sent to journalists said Agbaje’s outburst was unnecessary, uncharitable and diversionary.

The IPY comprises about 20 groups of young and dynamic professionals from the three senatorial districts in Lagos State.

The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, had faulted the appointment of Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola as the new Head of Service in the state, saying the action sacrificed career progression and was ‘politics taken too far.’

It will be recalled that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Monday, sworn in Muri-Okunola as the 21st HoS in the state, in place of Mrs. Folashade Adesoye who retired in December 2018.

At 46 years old, Muri-Okunola is said to be the youngest ever HoS in the history of Lagos State.

Agbaje, in a statement by his campaign organisation’s Directorate of Media and Publicity, on Thursday, described the appointment as “insensitive, unjust and disruptive of the civil service hierarchy.

He said, “Indications are that, to pave way for the assisted meteoric rise of the new HoS, the Lagos State Government had, between January and November 2018, forcefully retired no fewer than 21 permanent secretaries considered as superiors and more experienced to the new man”

 But the Ibile Progressive Youth countered Agbaje’s position, that ‘Recent statements of Mr. Jimi Agbaje, the Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate, including his unprovoked attack on the new Lagos HoS are increasingly unnerving”, wrote Plunter. 

He further says: “While the appointment of Hakeem Muri-Okunola, a dynamic, qualified and hard working young man has been roundly applauded by progressive minds, it is a bitter pill for Mr. Agbaje and his ilk to swallow. 

“It is evident from Mr. Agbaje’s statement how desperately he wishes the wheel of progress in the Centre of Excellence be reversed. 

“His statement smack of bile, divisiveness and incitement of our hard working civil servants to rebellion over a simple, constitutional executive action.”

“While IPY remains non-aligned, but keenly monitoring the activities and promises of the governorship candidates involved in the political contestation for Office of Governor of Lagos State, we are concerned about the direction of Mr. Agbaje’s  campaigns.”   

The IPY wondered why the likes of Jimi Agbaje, who it said claimed to be an indigene of Lagos State, would fault the appointment of Hakeem Muri-Okunola, a true son of the soil and an indigene of the state, as HoS.

Plunter posited that the PDP shot itself on the leg by faulting the appointment of a relatively young man as the HoS of the state despite it’s “noise that it would give chance to young people in their governments both at the state and at the Federal levels if they win the 2019 elections.”

The group added that it was obvious that the PDP was not in support of the “Not Too Young To Run Law” passed by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“If a young man like Macron could be elected as the President of France. Austria on December 12, 2018 elected the world’s youngest president, who is 31 years old. His name is Sebastian Kurz.

“Before those elections, he was the country’s foreign minister. 

“While our youth are contented with being used as praise singers and be special assistants on social media, youth elsewhere are disrupting the status quo, pushing for innovation, changing the narrative and pushing for new frontiers. 

“So, why are we now trying to criticise a government that is trying to encourage the youths.

“In any case, the questions are was Governor Ambode right in retiring Permanent Secretaries, the answer is yes, was he right in appointing an HoS, the answer is yes. Also, is Muri-Okunola qualified for the post, the answer is yes,” the group said, adding that Agbaje is oblivious of the trend in politics and governance all over the world.

The IPY described the PDP and Jimi Agbaje as a sinking ship that is trying to get to the shore through any means.

According to the group, rather than telling the people of Lagos State the programmes he has for them, Jimi Agbaje and his campaign group are busy chasing shadows and interfering with the internal workings of the state government.

Plunter stressed in the statement that Jimi Agbaje knew that his party, the PDP could not defeat the APC in the forthcoming governorship election in the state, and that “he is bereft of ideas as he has now become a serial loser, who derives pleasure in contesting elections every four years.”

The group also berated Jimi Agbaje for displaying “arrant ignorance” over the issues surrounding the appointment of Hakeem Muri-Okunola as the new HoS of the state by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

IPY reminded the likes of Agbaje that after the retirement of some permanent secretaries by the state government in 2015, only two permanent secretaries were ahead of HMO and they were Mrs. Olabowale Ademola, who retired in November, 2017, while the immediate past HoS, Mrs. Folashade Adesoye, who was also his senior in rank, took over as HoS on November 10, 2017.

“So, by hierarchy, it was the turn of HMO to take over after Mrs. Adesoye retired in December, 2018 after years of meritorious service to the state government.

“The appointment of Hakeem Muri-Okunola was not about politics, he was the next person in rank after the exit of the two PS, who were ahead of him. 

“So, Agbaje would have done better not to wash his dirty linen in public. Is this the kind of person that wants to become the Governor of a state like Lagos,” the statement read.

Hakeem Muri-Okunola got into the civil service in 2001, when he served as the company secretary/legal adviser of Ibile Holdings Limited. 

In 2003, he became the Personal Assistant to the Executive Governor of the State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. 

In 2005, he became the Executive Secretary to the Governor, Land Use and Allocation Committee.

In 2011, when he was just 39 years old, he became permanent secretary in the same Land Ministry, a position he held until August 4, 2015 before he was moved to the Ministry of Youths and Social Development.

Muri-Okunola is reportedly credited with several commendable innovations in the two immediate previous appointments.

At the Lands Bureau, Muri-Okunola revolutionized the processes for acquiring land titles. 

On his watch, the Bureau adopted the Electronic Certificate of Occupancy (E-C of O) and the Electronic Data Management System(EDMS). 

The new practice ensured that processes for obtaining the Governor’s consent for Land acquisition was reduced to 30 days. 

This would further burnish the status of Lagos as the World Bank pushed the state notches higher in the Ease of Doing Business rankings. 

Similarly, Muri-Okunola ensured that international best practices were strictly adhered to in the child adoption processes during his stint as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Social Development. 

During this time, departments such as the Social Welfare Department were repositioned for efficient service delivery. 

Also, Muri-Okunola in his official capacity inspired several policy actions focusing on the protection of the child, better treatment of destitute and the disabled.

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