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Re-inventing civil service for improved work ethics

By Anthony Otaru
25 February 2015   |   11:00 pm
IN the past, they were considered rare breeds. Their words were law. Political office holders dare not go beyond their advice. They represented the middle and upper class, depending on their grade in the civil service. The General Order and the Financial Regulations books guided their conduct in and out of office     The…


IN the past, they were considered rare breeds. Their words were law. Political office holders dare not go beyond their advice. They represented the middle and upper class, depending on their grade in the civil service. The General Order and the Financial Regulations books guided their conduct in and out of office  

  The days of Allison Ayida, Ime Ebong, Phillip Asiodu, Ahmed Joda, Ibrahim Damchida, among others, who were super permanent secretaries witnessed the glorious era of the civil service

   The Nigerian civil service is one of the significant legacies left by the colonialists which serves as a functional tool required to put the nation on the path of recovery that could match the rising expectation of the people savouring the euphoria of independence. It is also instructive that despite the twists and turns the civil service has gone through in its evolution, there is no denying the great achievements and memorable lessons and insights which it has thrown up for future adaptation.

However, over the years, the civil service has suffered from various policy summersaults in the hands of successive governments, that only a comprehensive reform could steer the service back on course.

   This phenomenon has rubbed off negatively on Nigerian Civil Service with continuous bashing from the public and the civil society over alleged corruption, indolence, tribalism, religious bigotry and nepotism in its operations with its concomitant effect on the nation’s economy. 

   Perhaps, this explains the coming together of stakeholders through a Steering Committee at  a one-day retreat to develop a national strategy for public service reforms with 

   At the retreat, which drew participants from members of the Steering Committee on Reforms [SCR], Federal Permanent Secretaries, some Heads of Extra-Ministerial Agencies/ Departments, International and Donor Agencies, among several others, one critical issue was how to put in place a long-term strategy that will continue to coordinate Nigeria’s development efforts in a reasoned, coherent and strategic way. 

The organizers were unanimous that while the transformation agenda of government sets out clear-cut  vision and policies in various areas, the National Strategy on Public Service Reforms will be a coordinating mechanism to ensure that the entire phases of implementation, 

outcomes, milestones and specific activities are measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound..

   Head of Service of the Federation, Danladi Kifasi, said that if all stakeholders can design a road map for reforming the nation’s budgetary system, making compensation scheme clearer and fairer, improve services delivery, it is obvious that a National Strategy For Public Service Reforms would have been developed with the aim of moving the country to a world class status by 2025.

   Kifasi stated that in  his inaugural speech on August 18, 2013,  he highlighted a number of strategic priorities for the civil service to include: elimination of corruption through increased transparency in the conduct of government business; improvements in human resources management system and deepening the benefits of Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System [IPPIS]; Institutionalizing a performance management system in the public service; Implementing  a leadership development and Succession Planning programme for the Federal Civil Service and entrenching a new work culture to stem indiscipline and restore professionalism.

   “As Vice-Chairman of the steering committee on public service reforms, I have sought to ensure that these issues form part of our wider public service reform effort. There was an attempt to tackle some of these issues in the National Strategy for Public Service Reforms, which was first developed in January, 2009. Although, that document contained a number of laudable initiatives that were implemented by many parts of the public service, it never completed the policy approval process that would have culminated in its adoption by the Federal Executive Council’’. he said

    Kifasi said: “ In order to ensure the validity and robustness of all these initiatives, I charged all Permanent Secretaries to make detailed inputs into the revised National Strategy for Public Service reforms and the Compendium of Reforms from 1999 to 2014, so as to ensure that the final products are understood, owned and implemented by the Service’’.

   In her remark, Ambassador Michel Arron assured that  the European Union was supporting the Federal government in the implementation of the National Strategy for Public Service Reforms through the EU Support to federal government Reforms [SUFEGORI], project. 

She said the “The objective of the SUFEGOR project is to support Nigeria in its efforts to strengthen systems and enhance processes for public service administration in order to achieve efficient service delivery in various sectors of the Nigeria economy’’. 

   According to her,  the project contributions will centre on the coordination of government’s reforms programme and supports to five federal agencies in carrying out their core mandates in the reform process namely;, policy Planning and forecasting, performance monitoring and evaluation, revenue administration and generation, public finance  management and development  of National Statistics.

       The five agencies are,; the National Planning Commission, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Bureau of Public Service Reform, National Bureau of Statistics and Federal Inland Revenue Service’’.

   She mentioned  core areas the SUFEGOR project programme were expected to cover, to include:  Clarity of roles of key agencies responsible for the reform process, linkage of government’s annual budget to strategic planning, performance management and budget reforms through  development of effective macro-economic forecasting and modeling, training of government personnel in budget profiling, accounting, cash and financial  management  as well as implementation of Integrated financial management system[IPPIS], in five pilot agencies.

    Also, the Director-General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms [BPSR], Joe Abah, said that to further strengthen  the  ongoing transformation agenda  of government , there was the need to put in place a robust mechanism  to ensure that  public servants  works  together, adding that “There have been a number of issues on  our budget system, late passage  of past budgets, Public Procurement Act, service delivery, of wages disparity. So, we thought time has come for us to get away from all these issues. 

   A communiqué issued at the end of the retreat featured the  issue of salary disparity as one of the major recommendations of the retreat.  It recommended a comprehensive job evaluation exercise to be carried out in the public sector. “The  OHCSF should prepare a Memo urgently for presentation to the Federal Executive Council, the federal government should empower the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission [RMAFC] to collaborate with other relevant government agencies to address the huge discrepancies in emoluments between the political and non-political office holders’’.

   Performance Management was another key issue proposed in the recommendations, it read in parts, “The harmonized Performance  Management  System [PMS], agreed by the OHCSF, National Planning Commission and FCSC should  be adopted as the framework for the implementation of the proposed PMS for the Federal Public Service and OHCSF should serve as the lead implementation agency’’.

On reforming the budget process, the communiqué indicated that the Medium Term Sector Strategies [MTSSs] and MCAs’s Rolling Plans as well as analysis of past performances be used to make the budget envelope system more efficient and transparent.

   Specific areas such as the role of SERVICOM, managing parastatals s service delivery, achieving effective public procurement, opportunities for public –private –partnership in the public service provision were not left out.