Govt officials, Corps members, others shower encomiums on Ex- Ondo NYSC Boss, Grace Akpabio
It was a moment of joyful memories and nostalgia as top government officials, NYSC staff, community leaders and friends showered encomiums and tributes on the former Ondo state coordinator of NYSC, Mrs Grace Akpabio during a sent forth ceremony organized in her honour and three other staff redeployed to other states.
Mrs Akpabio was transferred to Ondo state in October 2017 and was redeployed to the headquarters of the scheme in 2021, spending three and half years as the state coordinator of NYSC in the state.
The dignitaries who converged on Akure from all parts of the country for the sent forth ceremony held on September 23rd, described Mrs Akpabio as a special public servant with distinction.
The colourful event was attended by Ondo State Commissioner of Police, Bolaji Salami; the immediate past acting Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jibayo Adeyeye; immediate past Commissioner for Works, Hon. Saka Yusuff Ogunleye; a former Head of Service, Barrister Toyin Akinkuotu and Chairman, Ondo State Board of Inland Revenue Service.
The occasion also had in attendance, General Manager, Nigerian Television Authority, Akure, Pastor Segun Ojelade, the Branch Manager of Benin Electricity Distribution Company,representative of General Manager, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria FRCN Positive 102.5 FM, Mrs Bukola Oladimeji, heads of Federal Establishments in Ondo State.
As part of activities to spice up the event, the NYSC Parade Band entertained the guests with melodious music while some corps members added glamour to the event.
Speaking at the event, Akinkuotu described Mrs Akpabio as a selfless state coordinator who used everything in her disposal to uplift the NYSC in Ondo state.
He called on public servants to emulate Mrs Akpabio to improve the system.
The former commissioner for Health in Ondo state, Dr Jibayo Adeyeye described the former state coordinator as very infectious in influencing and motivating others to work.
Some corps members and other personalities who recounted their encounters with Mrs Akpabio since 2017 said they would miss her mentorship and problem solving qualities.
In her remarks, the NYSC state coordinator ,Mrs Victoria Ani said the sent forth ceremony was deserving following the landmark achievements recorded by Mrs Akpabio in the last three and half years in Ondo state.
Excerpts of some of the comments by dignitaries in attendance :
President of Akwa Ibom community in Ondo state ,Comrade Lyon Akpan
“Mrs. Akpabio is very special and someone who loves everyone around her. When she was transferred to Ondo state, she didn’t only extend her humanitarian services to NYSC community but also extended it to akwa Ibom community.
In fact, the akwa ibomites community, when we heard that she had been transferred, most of us were almost weeping because since we have been having prominent akwaibomites in this state, she has been the only prominent akwa ibom woman that identified with us.
She doesn’t want to know your level, whether you are a low cadre or in the middle or the top. No. she has that love to identify with anyone.
What we experienced in her, I must confess, we have not experienced it from any other prominent akwa ibom native in the state.”
I got to know Mrs. Akpabio though the former accountant general, Laolu Akindulie and that was when my son, dr. Raymond was posted to the East for the NYSC programme.
Laolu introduced me to her and we became friends. One thing that endeared me to her was that Ondo state civil service and the office of the head of service was not very close to the NYSC scheme. We have always seen NYSC programme as a baby of the ministry of sports and youths development.
But when we got to know each other, she identified herself with the service so much that for the first time, the office of the head of service became very close to the NYSC.
As a matter of fact, when she was commissioning the health facilities project, she invited me as the chairman of the occasion and I honoured the invitation.
When I observed the passion she put for the job, it is a lesson for all public servants.
The problem with most public servants is that they see government projects as not that important. This woman sees government project as a project of everybody and she puts everything to it.
In fact, that time, I had to make contributions despite meagre resources of the office of the head of service.
I want to urged all public servants to emulate Mrs. Akpabio whenever they find themselves.”
Former Accountant-General, Laolu Akindulie
“What motivates Mrs. Akpabio is basically not money. It is largely legacy and what impacts she can make on the people and you can see that from very long list of projects she executed before leaving Ondo state.
I doubt if any predecessor would have done something greater and that gives a good challenge to those there now and those that would come thereafter.
Another interesting thing about her is that when corps members have challenges, she refers to them as ‘my children’ and that was the regular language she was using when she was in Ondo state and I started wondering how many children does she have until I discovered that it was the corps members she refers to as her children and you can see this is the gap that you find in many public officers and the work they do. She sees them as her children.
Representatives of the Corps Members
“She is a mother and what she displayed during the lockdown last year was surprising. Let me tell you, those tested positive to covid19 were also on camp then and they have different hostels. Even if other staff would not come to visit those infected, every morning, you will see Mrs. Grace Akpabio visiting the patients after her early morning jogging.
She would meet all of them, asking about their wellbeing. I would sit down and keep asking myself, who is this woman ? Thank you ma, for all you do.”
Former acting Commissioner of Health, Dr. Jibayo Adeyeye
“If I don’t speak here today, I would been doing a disservice to a woman that performed excellently well in her calling to this state and to the nation.
I adopt everything said by former speakers. I want to add that Mrs. Akpabio is very infective. She would infect you with her own passion and you will not know when you start spending your money on government projects like she would spend her own money.
She got me to visit her projects in ikare NYSC camp where she was building a health center.
You would think she was building a Teaching hospital with the way she would get you to contribute to it and tell you why you must contribute to the project.
Even when I told her the scheme was not under the health ministry, she would persuade you to spend your own money and you would not have a choice than to do it. She is a very selfless person and I wish her all the good things she wished herself.”
Pastor Olusoji Ibukun from AGAPE Church
I will say Mrs. Akpabio is a Christian. Not only her, likewise her husband.
Their smiles are contagious. If you have met her husband, you will think they are twins. They are a loving family.
I am a pastor of Agape Christian ministry where she worshipped when she was in Akure and until today we are still missing her.
There is a vacuum she left in church that nobody could occupy as we speak. She still contributes to church activities despite the fact that she been sent forth.
This woman is a philanthropist. it is not when the media start making noise about you that you are a philanthropist; but she is a philanthropist in wherever she found herself, she contributes and that is why everybody missed her when she left.
If it was possible for us to bring her back, we would have protested against her transfer because of the role the played in the vineyard of God.”
Mrs Grace Akpabio responds
“ I want to specially appreciate the NYSC coordinator, Mrs. Victoria Ani for all she has been. I started a project and she completed it. If everyone is like her, this country would not be having cases of abandoned projects.
I want to thank all invited guests for creating time to honour me.
I want to thank all members of staff NYSC Ondo state. I keep saying it that in all of nysc formation in the nation, I see them as the best and the most cooperating. All you need is to give them a push.
I remember when we were started building the clinic, it looked like it was a completely impossible task.
When the corps members came up with the idea and we got 100,000 from the two obas in ikare akoko.
We decided that we were going to start the foundation laying with the money. Every member of the scheme in Ondo state including the security men contributed to the project.They levied themselves. I want to thank everyone for all you did.
I am lost in words to appreciate everyone for this sent forth ceremony. We all understand the economic situation of Nigeria and we know that without love and sacrifice, day like this would not be possible.
I say thank you for all that have contributed to the success of this programme.”
Mrs Akpabio also commended journalists in Ondo for supporting her during her stay in Ondo state.
Highlight of the event included presentation of gifts to the celebrants.