February 12, 2015 – After 35 years of glorious service, the 17th Head of the Lagos State Public Service, Mrs. Josephine Oluseyi Williams, on Thursday retired at a colourful ceremony in Lagos.
Speaking at the Pens-Down ceremony, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola expressed joy that the State Public Service has removed the word impossible from her vocabulary adding that such resolve underscored the fact that the people could change anything that did not work for them.
The Governor pointed out that whenever people gave accolades to the State’s law enforcement agencies, acknowledged the fire fighting capacity of its Fire Service or the efficiency of its Public Service delivery, he always reminded them that the personnel of the agencies were not changed but only changed their attitude and renewed their dedication.
Fashola maintained that with the right attitude and the appropriate dedication to work, nothing would be impossible for any institution in Nigeria that was currently deemed to be underperforming adding, “When I meet people outside now and they tell me that the face of the Lagos State Public Service is changing for the better, I take that compliment with a lot of inward pride even though I know that the work is not finished”.
Noting that the State’s Public Service has earned the support of the public that it serves, Governor Fashola declared, “What that simply does is that it places a bigger burden on you, on me and all of us to keep what we have earned”.
He reiterated that earning such support was only half of the journey as keeping it was the real deal adding that Lagos did not earn such public support by sloganeering, by pronouncing transformation or by a vision that changed every minute.
The Governor, who gave the title of his address at the ceremony as “This Cup would pass”, explained that Nigeria was being forced to drink from a very bitter cup adding, however, that the cup would eventually pass.
“Even though we gather to celebrate and honour the Public Service, some of the things that we see now raises several questions and the difference between good and bad is becoming very difficult to tell”, he said adding that governance was not necessarily about building roads and bridges or about proving jobs but also about very high moral authority.
Advising those who regard the appointment of women into leadership positions as their achievement to look beyond their narrow confines, Governor Fashola declared, “When you look at the Permanent Secretaries in Lagos State, the Magistracy, the leadership of parastatals and the Judiciary, you will see that leadership responsibility for women in Lagos is a way of life. So if some people think they are doing women a favour and consider it an achievement, they are living in a different world. Here it is already a way of life”.
The Governor, who recalled that his first encounter with Mrs. Williams was when he was the Chief of Staff, added that she came across as “a very likeable person with a very strong character”, adding that in appointing the outgoing Head of Service then, he knew he was appointing an HOS who may sometimes have cause to disagree with him. “She was also responsible for issuing a dress code which the Public Service has been better for”, he said.
According to the Governor, “She has also demonstrated a remarkable flair for change. When we initiated the idea of Mission Statement and Service Charter for departments and ministries under the Office of Transformation, it was Mrs. Williams who led the charge and the change”.
“When I suggested that some of our public officers should work on weekends in agencies like Lands Bureau, Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and Physical Planning, she was the first to remind me of the number of hours that a public servant could work in the finest tradition of the Public Service, but she was the one who found a way by which we started the Saturday service without breaking the law”, he said.
“This is the kind of commitment that she brought to service and it is a commitment to find solution. This is why People in the Private Sector are now applying to join the Lagos State Public Service”.
In his goodwill message on behalf of the members of the State Executive Council, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Rahman Ade-Ipaye, said since Mrs. Josephine Williams joined the State Executive Council, she had demonstrated a kind of leadership that has been highly appreciated by all.
He added that the retiring Head of Service also represented her constituency perfectly, especially for the matters that concerned the trade unions pointing out that there was a need to talk friendly across the table.
The Commissioner, who said Mrs. Williams, had a good relationship with everyone despite the fact that she was the only civil servant among the Executive Council members added that she ensured that the statutory obligations of the State Executive Council to the Public Service were delivered.
In her response, after signing off her personal file in the Public Service and receiving a Certificate of Service from the Governor, Mrs. Williams said her choice of the public service was primarily based on the desire to fulfill a dream of touching lives and making some modest contributions to the growth and development of Nigeria.
Charging public servants to remain focused at all times and in all situations, Mrs. Williams reminded them that the decisions they made in the course of service would go a long way in shaping the society.
She advised her successor in office to always be guided by the underlying philosophy of ensuring that the greatest good and usefulness were meant for the greatest number.
The event was attended by members of the State Executive Council including the Deputy Governor, Hon. (Mrs.) Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, former Deputy Governor, Princess Sarah Sosan, some former Heads of Service including Prince Adesegun Ogulewe and Mr. Babatunde Rotinwa as well as the spouse of the retiree, Engnr. Mobolaji Olanrewaju Williams and other family members and friends of the Williams.