From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, has bowed out of office by virtue of 35 years of service.
Activities to mark his official exit from Federal Civil Service culminated in the formal handover of the affairs of the Ministry to the Director, Human Resource in Ministry, David Gende.
In a brief ceremony held at Federal Ministry of Education headquarters in Abuja, on Thursday, the outgoing Permanent Secretary said he was grateful to God and Country for the opportunity to serve in such capacity.
He appreciated the opportunity and trust he enjoyed from the Ministers of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu and Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, senior management staff of the Ministry, development partners and other stakeholders which was responsible for the success that he achieved in the Ministry.
In his valedictory speech, Echono stressed the need for more attention to be paid in educating the larger population of Nigeria, stating that such is the panacea to the high rate of insecurity and unemployment in Nigeria.
He said: “We must be prepared to compete in the knowledge economy that’s ruling the world. A lot of things are being unraveled by technology, and we can no longer pretend not to be aware of what’s happening.
“We must, unarguably, provide quality education that would help our people fend for themselves and contribute to the socioeconomic development of Nigeria and the world.
“If we train our people well and give them the relevant education, they would create employment for themselves and not wait for us on the highway to kidnap us. It’s the responsibility of all to achieve that, and we must prepare our citizens for the challenge ahead.
“By virtue of destiny, I served in most of the difficult Ministries, and God helped me to record great successes in each of them. By the Grace of God, I am leaving this Ministry
without a query or an invitation from the EFCC or ICPC to come give explanation on a something unclear to them.
“However, my experience and knowledge of Nigeria and public service would have been totally different if I wasn’t posted to serve in the Ministry of Education. My serving here exposed me to lots of things I never knew.
“I had the privilege to work with different people including development partners, SUBEB, Commissioners and several other stakeholders. The education sector is the largest in the public service. Our staff alone is the quarter of the entire civil service workforce.”
He thanked the President, Muhammadu Buhari, for the support, particularly the fact that there was never a memo that was taken to the President from the Ministry that was rejected.
Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, in his remarks, thanked the outgoing Permanent Secretary for his service to the Ministry and entire country.
He said: “We tried all we could to either extend his stay or give him other opportunity to continue service but that didn’t work. However, he won’t allow him to go far from us because we would be engaging him in one way or the other.”
He appreciated him and assured him of continuous support and collaborations from the Ministry.