Corruption still rife in civil service despite gains, says Osinbajo
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday expressed worries that in spite of the modest gains recorded by the country’s civil service under the present dispensation, it has remained at its lowest ebb due to endemic corruption.
He said corruption was so endemic that it had permeated the civil service, eroded the modest gains made in the President Muhammadu Buhari administration and had continued to weigh them down.
Osinbajo made the remarks at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday at the inaugural quarterly civil service lecture series with the theme: “Civil Service in a Change Environment: The Change is Now.”
He said the system, which stood against injustices and high-handedness in the past even under military dictatorship, suddenly crashed when civil servants began to see their offices as a means to achieve personal aggrandisement at the expense of the common good of all.
Osinbajo said the elite deliberately usurped roles meant to further their personal gains and left the masses largely impoverished.“Despite the criticisms that civil servants are subjected to, I am sure that you know that sometimes civil servants are described as ‘evil servants’ but you must take heart. The best professions are usually the most criticised.”
“But I must say that the wholesome privilege of public service is very easily abused or taken for granted. The public service elite represents, as we have seen, the most important factor in mass development,” he added.
In his goodwill message, Chairman, Africa Initiative for Governance, Aigboje Imoukhuede, lamented the narrative associated with the public sector in the country, which, according to him, was one dominated by poor performance, stagnation and self-interests.
He noted that the public sector was the nation’s first line of defence against most of the problems that have prevented the country from attaining its long anticipated potential.
Meanwhile, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, criticised the media for reporting only shortcomings of the service and deliberately leaving out its modest achievements.
She said federal civil service in particular had been in the vanguard of national cohesion and has ensured smooth transition of power from one administration to another whether military or civilian.
She pointed out that the envisaged new direction for the service was captured in the 2017-2019 strategy of the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
In another development, the Acting President yesterday inaugurated the Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a call on the elite to always do things that will impact on the masses.
He said: “The people look up to us and believe we can do it and despite all the failures and the false starts, our people, especially the poor and the vulnerable still believe that these elite will and can deliver.”
Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, described the inauguration of the PSAG as a landmark event, saying Nigeria was the first member of the United Nations to do so.
She described it as a renewed partnership between business and government at the highest levels to build the consensus for the successful implementation of the SDGs.