Less than 24 hours from now, the drums will be rolling out and the cymbals clanging for the big celebration – the official launch of the John Odigie-Oyegun Public Service Academy (JOOPSA) in Benin City, the Edo State capital.

The event, by design, is coming on the birthday anniversary of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, after whom JOOPSA was named, as a mark of honour for a man whose name is synonymous with integrity, dedication, and a profound commitment to the betterment of society.

JOOPSA is an establishment designed, networked and tooled for the highest levels of human capital development across a broad spectrum of spheres.

The brainchild of Governor Godwin Obaseki’s led administration, JOOPSA is a centre of excellence for retooling and upskilling of public and civil servants for effective service delivery. Here, aspiring politicians, administrators, and civil servants can immerse themselves in a curriculum designed to instill values of ethical leadership, service delivery, community engagement, and innovative problem-solving.

“The ‘engine’ of Government is the Public Service, and it should function as it should,” said the Director-General of JOOPSA, Imuhawen Ajoonu.

“To achieve this, the Governor Obaseki-led administration set up a focus-driven institution called the John Odigie-Oyegun Public Service Academy (JOOPSA) to upskill and retool the Public Service for effective service delivery,” she said.

John Odigie-Oyegun, the man at the centre of the celebration, was born to the late Daniel Osagiede Odigie-Oyegun and Mrs. Shaka Odigie-Oyegun (nee Amurun) on 12th August 1939. His lifetime journey to becoming a beacon of inspiration is a testament to the power of resilience and the unwavering pursuit of excellence, ideals also common to JOOPSA. That makes the naming of this establishment after him so very apt.

It is pertinent to mention that the Odigie-Oyeguns are noble. Their father was decorated Officer of the Order of the British (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth. Papa retired as a senior high court registrar and was Chairman of the state school board at the time of his death. Chief John Odigie Oyegun’s late immediate younger sister, Kate Odigie-Oyegun, was once Managing Editor of The Nigerian Observer, a female first!

Chief Odigie-Oyegun attended St. Patrick’s College, Asaba, and then went to the University of Ibadan where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Economics. He then served meritoriously in various capacities as a federal civil servant, working as a development planner.

Chief John Odigie Oyegun’s federal civil service career spanned over 4 decades! His call to fame with regard to public administration is inspiring, admirable, and worth noting – he was the youngest civil servant to be appointed federal permanent secretary, belonging to a storied cadre referred to as “super perm secs”.

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He was elected as civilian governor of Edo State on the SDP platform during the transition to democracy launched by General Ibrahim Babangida and served from January 1992 to November 1993. He was removed from office after General Sani Abacha seized power. Later, he became a leader of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). In 2009, he was chairman of the Technical Working Committee of CODER. He would later serve as the first National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), leading the party to victory in 2015.

In a world that often seems defined by self-interest and fleeting ambitions, John Odigie-Oyegun is among the few individuals who embody the true spirit of public service, dedicating their lives to uplift their communities and foster lasting change.

Through the pivotal roles he held in Nigeria’s political landscape, Chief Odigie-Oyegun consistently demonstrated his commitment to transparency, accountability, and good governance. His leadership style was characterized by a willingness to listen, an eagerness to learn, and an unyielding dedication to serving the people above all else.

What truly sets Odigie-Oyegun apart is his ability to bridge divides and foster unity. In an era of polarized politics, he advocated inclusivity and consensus-building, showing that progress is achieved not through division, but through understanding and cooperation. His legacy resonates as a reminder that leaders should prioritize the welfare of their constituents and work collectively for the greater good.

Thus, according to Ajoonu, “JOOPSA is a monument to his enduring legacy. It is a living embodiment of his fervent belief that effective leadership and governance are nurtured through education, mentorship, and the cultivation of a deep understanding of public service dynamics.”

She further said as a centre of excellence for aspiring leaders, JOOPSA stands as a tribute to Chief Odigie-Oyegun’s foresight and a platform for countless future trailblazers to learn from his life’s work.

There is no doubt that what the Governor Obaseki-led administration has done in honouring Chief Odigie-Oyegun’s legacy through JOOPSA is highly commendable. That legacy will continue to thrive, shaping individuals who are not only equipped with knowledge at JOOPSA but also driven by a burning desire to make a positive impact.

As we reflect on the life and accomplishments of John Odigie-Oyegun, we are reminded that true greatness lies in service to others. His journey from a young dreamer to a respected statesman is a story of transformation, perseverance against all odds, and lifelong dedication to a higher purpose. The establishment of JOOPSA cements his place as a visionary who invested in the future, recognizing that the seeds of progress are sown through education, mentorship, and unwavering commitment to the ideals of public service.

In a world hungry for leaders of integrity and compassion, the legacy of John Odigie-Oyegun shines as a guiding light. His life’s work and the birth of JOOPSA remind us that the path to a brighter future is paved by individuals who are willing to put the needs of others before their own and strive relentlessly to make the world a better place for all.

Happy birthday to Chief John Odigie-Oyegun. Long live JOOPSA!