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Lagos State wades off bureaucracy, complacency in civil service

By Tope Templer Olaiya
18 April 2018   |   4:22 am
For many reasons, Lagos State has lived up to its bill of its epithet, the Centre of Excellence, by setting the pace in governance and infrastructural development.

Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode

For many reasons, Lagos State has lived up to its bill of its epithet, the Centre of Excellence, by setting the pace in governance and infrastructural development. The state’s workforce, the civil service, has shouldered much of the gains made by successive administrations in the state.

As if reading from the ideas book of Bill Gates before his profound speech made recently at the National Economic Council meeting in Abuja, where Gates noted that Nigeria was placing more emphasis on infrastructure development than human capital, Lagos State governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, had given a huge boost in investments to reskilling and retooling of the state’s workforce, thereby reducing waste while increasing productivity.

In his quest to accelerate development in the state, Ambode realized the critical role of public servants, hence, the launch of the campaign to ensure that all public servants embrace the “Growth Mindset” and be well equipped for the challenges of the modern world.

He inaugurated a special advocacy campaign, last month, to engender growth mindset and imbue among civil servants the right skills and attitude that will contribute in the efforts of fast-tracking development and set the state on the path of sustainable and inclusive growth, to meet the challenges of the 21st century through the Change Mindset Advocacy.

To engender this goal, therefore, Office of Transformation, Creativity and Innovation (OTCI) and Ministry of Information and Strategy, recently, held a training programme, organized for Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Agencies and Parastatals in the state at the Folarin Coker Staff Clinic’s Conference Room, Alausa, Ikeja.

Speaking at the programme, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Kehinde Bamigbetan, said the state government, having realized the importance of changing the mindset of public servants to align with the changing time, decided to embark on the change campaign in the state.

According to him, “we have 24 million residents, many of them travel a lot and are exposed to international standards, while some have become sophisticated, therefore, the benchmark for services has increased, and people can compare how they are served in public service in Lagos with the private sector.”

While commending the Permanent Secretaries, Heads of Agencies and Parastatals for turning out for the sensitization, the commissioner noted that the training would be extended to other cadres.

Launching the ‘Growth Mindset’ initiative, at Alausa, Ikeja, Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pension, Dr. Akintola Oke, and Bamigbetan, said that an online platform, “Citizen’s Gate,” had been created for complaints.

The structure of the capacity development programme focuses on: Advocacy Communication; Sensitization of Senior Management; Train the trainers for GL10- 14; Re-orientation workshop for Grade Levels 10-14; Impact assessment and sustainability, among others.

Bamigbetan said the advocacy would majorly focus on two tracks of training and communication, and also make civil servants to see the people as customers that must be treated with respect and dignity.

The training track, according to Bamigbetan, is meant to ensure that civil servants are trained in skills that will give them right capacity and attitude to take a different view of their services and redefine their work in terms of the content by the audiences and customers who patronize the services of government, while the communication track would enable public servants reorganize their thought processes to change their perception and perspective of what they are supposed to do and therefore give them a more proactive and progressive attitude to the people.

He said: “Basically, what we are saying is that government is a service centre and the customer they say is the king. So, for Lagos State, a very industrial environment, a very commercial environment, the most advanced cosmopolitan city in this country, we also have highly sophisticated citizens who deserve services at optimal level. This, we hope and believe, will enable us to change the attitude so that every civil servant sees the man on the street as his customer and with this, we would have also recorded major landmark in organizational behaviour which will be something for people to come and study in years to come.”

On Ambode’s assumption of office, the governor had invested heavily in the transformation of the public service through trainings and workshops designed to bring about improved productivity, deepen knowledge, expand horizon, as well as re-evaluate and sharpen the vision and focus of public servants.

Ambode had early February, signed the 2018 Appropriation Bill of the state into law with a total budget size of N1,046,121,181,680.00. The sectoral breakdown of the budget, shows, General Public Services to gulp N171,623 billion, representing 16.41 per cent; Public Order and Safety, N46.612 billion, representing 4.46; Economic Affairs, N473,866 billion, representing 45.30 per cent; Environmental Protection, N54,582 billion, representing 5.22 per cent, while Housing and Community Amenities got N59,904 billion, representing 5.73 per cent.

The emphasis on this huge spending on workers’ training was disclosed by the governor while speaking at the training session for top civil servants organised by the Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions with the theme: ‘Adopting the Lean Process Improvement Culture in the Civil Service to Further Reduce Waste and Optimise Productivity.’

The governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for the Ministry, Dr. Akintola Benson Oke, while noting that the importance of eliminating waste cannot be overemphasised, observed that countless studies had shown that with good and sound processes relating to management of time and resources, meager resources can be extended to produce outstanding results.

The governor, while insisting that organisations and individuals can achieve more with less, said it was in pursuit of this objective that his administration had to approve the ongoing training for civil servants in the state.

“The ultimate objective of this training is to identify and codify the methods, means and strategies for ensuring that the Lagos State Civil Service is positioned to do more with less. At the end of this training, the Lagos State Civil Service and her officers should be able to produce even more outstanding results with less money, less personal, and in less time. This, at the end of the day, is ultimate productivity.

“Furthermore, it frees up resources, both human and capital, for investment in other competing fronts for the benefit of the good people of Lagos State,” Ambode said.

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