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Competent and learned: Tribute to Clara Ibirogba

“Competence, combined with a good heart and willingness to serve, is irreplaceable”Anonymous

By Akintola Benson-Oke

INDEED, it is a fitting tribute to Mrs. Clara Omotilewa Olutoyin Ibirogba to give her the sobriquet, ‘Competence, with a good heart and willingness to serve.’ One would suppose that the anonymous source to whom the quote above is attributed had her in mind when the profoundly true words were written.

Dr. Benson-Oke (middle)assists Mrs. Ibirogba to cut the retirement cake as a colleague, full of smiles, looks on.

Read her profile, and you will read of an officer who has had extensive, rich, and varied experience serving the Lagos State Civil Service. Inquire from friends and colleagues about her and you will be told of a woman of grace who can develop and nurture life-long beneficial personal and work relationships. Work with her and you will discover a good-hearted graceful lady and versatile officer who is competent and always willing to serve and to contribute meaningfully to issues.

I have had the good pleasure to serve alongside Mrs. Ibirogba at the Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions since November 2017 when she was appointed as the Permanent Secretary of the Office of Establishments and Training. In the short period during which we served together, she brought the full weight of her rich experience as a versatile civil servant to bear on our deliberations and projects. For this, I remain profoundly grateful.

It does not take long for co-workers to recognise that she is a lawyer. Mrs. Ibirogba was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1981. She started her Civil Service career as a State Counsel in the Lagos State Ministry of Justice in 1983.  She then rose through the ranks to become a Director in the Ministry of Justice. She headed the Directorate of Legislative Drafting in 2001 and served as the Director of the Directorate for Citizens’ Rights in 2006 until November, 2017 when she was appointed as the Permanent Secretary of the Office of Establishments and Training. As a member of the noble profession to which I also belong, her insightful and analytical mind can think through any issue and identify pitfalls in proposals while being ready to proffer useful and out-of-the box suggestions and solutions to knotty problems.

I am delighted to note that Mrs. Ibirogba left indelible marks in the Ministry of Justice where she served for the better part of her career in the Lagos State Civil Service. She was extensively involved in the landmark and trail-blazing mediation programme of the Ministry, drafting and supervising the drafting of a large number of memoranda that led to the resolution of otherwise intractable disputes. As a skilled draftsman, she also led the efforts to draft a number of laws, subsidiary legislations, Council Memoranda in respect of Chieftaincy Matters, and Oath Papers for Swearing-in Ceremonies at State Functions, among others.

Mrs. Ibirogba also served the Lagos State Civil Service as a skilled and gifted Attorney in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions by prosecuting and defending cases on behalf of the Directorate and offering legal advice to the Commissioner of Police in criminal matters. As a consummate and experienced advocate, she was actively involved in the preparation of the revised High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules. As a testimony to her abilities to navigate uncharted territories, she was tapped to lead the setting up of the Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency and the One-Stop Child Justice Centre in the Ministry of Justice.

Mrs. Ibirogba held several other positions of responsibility and performed creditably well. She was the Alternate Chairman of the Domestic & Sexual Violence Response Team for Lagos State and the Focal Person on HIV/AIDS and Related matters. She was the Council Secretary to the Lagos State Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy between 1991 and 2006, the Legal Adviser/Board Member, Health Facilities Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA) from inception until 2015, and a member of the Governing Council of the Citizens Mediation Centre.

As the Permanent Secretary in the Office of Establishments and Training, she had responsibility as the accounting officer for formulating Establishments and Training policies for the entire State Public Service; for determining Establishments Matters, including staff complements, grading and conditions of appointment in conjunction with the office of the Head of Service; for coordinating attendance and participation at the meetings of the National Council on Establishments; for the issuance of Establishments circulars, guidelines and interpretation on the use of Public Service Rules and Schemes of Service; for the Service-wide management of staff records; for the organisation of the Joint Public Service Negotiation Council meetings; and for the Management of Industrial Relations with the Accredited Trade Unions

Mrs. Ibirogba’s career trajectory in the civil service may only be described as extensively rich and meaningful. Indeed, it is a testimony to her diligence, competence, hard work and passion that she was entrusted with many high profile and delicate assignments during her service years. In the short period during which she served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions, I can attest that she performed admirably, creditably and excellently. I am sure that I speak for a number of officers of the Ministry in saying that we wish she had more time to serve in this Ministry. For, in the short period of her service in this Ministry, she made useful suggestions on how to improve processes and execute projects, demonstrated administrative acumen, exhibited exemplary work ethics, and generated a number of excellent ideas that I am sure will serve the ministry in good stead.

For these reasons and many more, the Office of Establishments and Training, the Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pension and, indeed, the entire Lagos State Civil Service will surely miss Mrs. Ibirogba’s graceful presence. As she leaves the Civil Service, it is heart-warming to note that she is leaving behind indelible marks of competence on the projects she worked on.

Dr. Akintola, Benson Oke, Honourable Commissioner, Lagos State Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions


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