Dr Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe: The Technocrat Whose Diligence Made The Most Sought After Public Servant By Raphael Ihonde
Diligence and duty are two character traits that brings promotion and prosperity.
At the core of these virtues is a sense of responsibility which propels individuals to fulfill their obligations through hard work to attain set goals.
With hard work and diligence in his duty, Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe (PhD), has traversed the Federal Public Service and in the process, he has steadily-safely arrived at the pinnacle of national public service.
Dr Umakhihe believes in Nigeria’s capacity to build resilience to alleviate poverty, hunger, and malnutrition, through sustainable and inclusive food and agriculture management systems.
He has over 34 years working experience at top management level in public service, moving through some of Nigeria’s most strategic MDAs.
Dr Umakhihe started his service at the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) as a young graduate before taking high-level positions in finance and accounting at the National Sports Commission; Ministries of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Defense and subsequently he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to head the bureaucracy of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The diligent technocrat also served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Budget and National Planning; Common Services Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, and in the Ministry of Works and Housing.
Dr Umakhihe’s area of specialization is Administration and Management, and Security. He holds a PhD in Security and Strategic Studies and a Masters in Business Administration.
He is a fellow of several professional bodies in the field of his specialization.
The distinguished community leader aptly fits the tag of ‘A True Homeboy’. Born in Otuo, a pristine rural community in Owan East Local Government Area, Edo State, Nigeria on the 5th of April 1964 and he had all his education in Benin City.
After his primary education in the village, Dr Umakhihe attended Edo College, Benin City for his West African School Certificate and the University of Benin for his Bachelor of Science Degree in Accountancy and Masters in Business Administration (MBA).
His rise in public service started at the National Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), Benin City in 1988 as an Accountant where he rose to the position of Head of Accounts of the Accounts Division of the Institute and later promoted Director of Finance and Accounts in quick succession.
He transferred his administrative skills to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Abuja as Deputy Director, Audit Monitoring Department.
It wasn’t long before Dr Umakhihe was drafted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as Director Finance and Accounts, where he supervised the Finance and Accounts functions of the Headquarter and Nigerian Diplomatic Missions Overseas.
When Nigeria became faced with insurgency, Dr Umakhihe was sent to the Ministry of Defense to organize the bureaucracy that was needed by the military.
Shortly after his 2nd term inauguration, former President Mohammadu Buhari, realizing the unique skills and expertise of Dr Umakhihe, redeployed him in February 2019, to the Ministry of Budget and National Planning as Permanent Secretary and finally to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to guide Nigeria’s well thought-out agriculture and food sustenance programme.
In addition to his glowing successful civil service career, Dr Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe is a member of several professional bodies, including – Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria; Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria; Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Administrators of Nigeria; and a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management.
According to the result driven manager, “politics should have a human face”, he has a strong conviction also that, “politics is about development and prosperity.”