Didi Esther Walson-Jack, MNI
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources
Dame Didi Esther Walson-Jack, mni, began her service as the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Water Resources on Wednesday, 30th September 2020. She had previously served as Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare Office in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, and Federal Ministry of Power.
Mrs. Didi Esther Walson-Jack’s intriguing and instructive Civil Service career began in 1992 as a State Counsel in Rivers State Ministry of Justice. In October 1996, following the creation of Bayelsa State, she transferred her service and became one of seven pioneer staff of the Ministry of Justice, and the nascent Bayelsa State Civil Service. She served as both Head, Legal Drafting Department of the Ministry of Justice, and Legal Department of Bayelsa State House of Assembly.
In recognition of her hard work, she was subsequently appointed by the Governor Alamieyeseigha Administration to the enviable dual position of Solicitor-General of Bayelsa State and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice; a position she held from July 2002 until January 2009. On more than one occasion, following the dissolutions of State Executive Councils, she acted as the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice.
Mrs. Walson-Jack, a 2008 alumna of the Senior Executive Course (SEC) 30 of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Plateau State, transferred her service, in 2009, to the Federal Civil Service in the Administrative Cadre.
Mrs. Walson-Jack began her career in the Federal Civil Service as an Assistant Director, Appointments, Promotion and Discipline, in the Human Resource Management Department, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. She served as pioneer State Coordinator of the Rivers State Office of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. She progressed with her passing relevant promotion examinations and was appointed a Deputy Director, Administration (Appointments, Promotion and Discipline) at the same Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Abuja.
In February 2012, Mrs. Didi Walson-Jack returned to Bayelsa State on secondment in the public interest at the request of the Bayelsa State Government. During this period, she served as the pioneer Deputy Chief of Staff to the Bayelsa State Governor; the pioneer Commissioner of the Ministry of Science & Technology and Manpower Development; and Chief of Staff, Government House, Yenagoa, until December 2014 when she voluntarily returned to the Federal Civil Service.
Prior to her appointment as a Federal Permanent Secretary in August 2017, Didi Walson-Jack served as Director in the Office of the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. In April 2016, she was deployed as the Director of Human Resource Management at the Federal Ministry of Health. She also served as the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics at the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, and Director, Special Duties in the Office of the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
In a career that has seen her traverse the Civil Service of two States – Rivers and Bayelsa; then two arms of Government – Executive and Legislature – and ultimately, two tiers of Government – State and Federal – Mrs. Didi Walson-Jack has indeed attained stellar status.
Didi Esther Walson-Jack was born on the 27th day of August 1966, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to the current Traditional Ruler of Tombia-Ekpetiama, His Highness, Christian Atani Okpofaa and Mrs. Timikoru Beauty Otobotekere (of blessed memory) of Bayelsa State. She had her primary education in Rumukorushe Primary School, Shell Camp, Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Thereafter she proceeded to Federal Government Girls’ College, Benin City, in present day Edo State. The quest for a higher school education took her to the Federal Government College, Ilorin, Kwara State, for her Advanced level studies.
Dame Walson-Jack was further educated at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos, where she obtained the Bachelor of Laws (LL. B) degree in 1986. She attended the Nigerian Law School and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1987, as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. She also attended the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Lagos, in 1996, and obtained a Certificate in Legislative Drafting. She underwent further training at California State Senate, United States, and Oklahoma City University, US, in 2000, where she received an International Fellowship and Certificate in Advanced Legal Drafting and a Certificate in Mediation, respectively.
In service to the larger society, she has featured prominently in the activities of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), where she served in executive positions in the Rivers State and Bayelsa State Chapters. She was chairperson of the Bayelsa State Chapter and participated in many advocacy and organizational building activities.
Her contributions to the Public Service of Nigeria are enormous as she is credited with several policy directions and sound invaluable institutional support. The experience and skills garnered are equally tremendous. She has developed herself into a repository of knowledge about the Public Service of the Federation, a reference point for career service, and eminently deserving of a Chair in a major research Institute or University after mandatory retirement from the Federal Civil Service. Her determination to move from a State Civil Service to the Federal, and the success she has achieved in the process, should also add to our knowledge of possibilities that exist in the Public Service of our country.
Mrs. Walson-Jack’s contributions to the Public Service have been recognized through several honours and Awards for Commitment and Professional Service. In 2008 Nigerians voted her the Public Administrator of the Year for Bayelsa State in a telephone poll conducted by the National Institute of Policy Studies and Political Activities, Lagos.
Coming from a family line of Writers and Poets, Mrs. Walson-Jack is an author of a Best-Seller, entitled “Roses in the Thorns”, an autobiography of resilience and triumph of faith over adversity. Drawing from a rich heritage of family, faith and service, Didi Walson-Jack shares the story of her life dotted with beautiful experiences and lined with tough challenges. The book is as surprising as it is insightful.
With her work in Public Administration, Values, Counselling and Mentorship, Mrs. Didi Walson-Jack dedicates her life to serving God through service to humanity, family, State and Country by helping in building stable families and strong institutions. She is happily married, for more than three decades, to Hon. Nimi Walson-Jack, a man she describes as her number one mentor and role model. Their marriage is blessed with two lovely children, Mrs. Sotonye Didi Ehimiaghe and Mr. Nimi Walson-Jack II. Both parents and children are lawyers. Mrs. Walson-Jack is also blessed with a grandson, Nathan Ehitai Tamunotonjo Ehimiaghe.