The Contribution Of Civil Servants To The Socio- Economic Development Of Nigeria

By Mohammed A. Ahmed

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As Nigeria commemorates the 2024 Civil Service Week, the nation also celebrates the impacts of reforms that have transformed the civil service into an agent of accelerated development of the nation under the renewed hope agenda of the current administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The 2024 Civil Service Week with the theme ”Educate an African Fit for the 21st Century: Building Resilient Education Systems for Increased Access to Inclusive, Lifelong, Quality and Relevant Learning in Africa,” provided the civil servants with the platform to measure the successes recorded in implementing reforms at all levels of governance.

The Nigerian Civil Service has its origin as established by the British during the colonial times. Since then, the nation’s Civil Service has continued to be the body responsible for the implementation of policies, programmes and activities of government. From inception, various panels had made recommendations to reform Nigeria’s Civil Service, including the Morgan Commission of 1963, the Adebo Commission of 1971 and the Udoji Commission of 1972 to 1974. The Dotun Philips Panel of 1985 also worked for the reform of the Civil Service. There is also Dr. Steve Oronsaye Report with a white paper for implementation.Noteworthy is the fact that since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999, after decades of military rule, the Civil Service has continued to undergo gradual and systematic reforms and restructuring with increased presence of ICT penetration to meet global standards.

Being the engine room of government, which provides the foot soldiers that translate policy initiatives to reality, the Civil Service has continued to be a subject of interest in the country.
For instance, many analysts have argued that Nigeria’s Civil Servants are poorly paid, lack efficient motivation, face payment disparity and corrupt.The result of all these have been constant frictions between labour groups and government, industrial disharmony, sub-optimal productivity and redundancy.

In an attempt to address these challenges, President Bola Tinubu, on assumption of office, gave a nod to structural reforms in the Public Service. The reforms being driven by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation , Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, focused on the total implementation of the objectives contained in the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan 2021 to 2025 (FCSSIP-25).

To march words with action, the Office of the Head of Civil Service of Nigeria launched the Revised Public Service Rules (PRS) in 2023 which President Bola Tinubu launched in line with the “Renewed Hope Agenda” of his administration. The revised public service rules provide for compulsory retirement for Directors after eight years on the post, tenure policy for Permanent Secretaries who are now required to spend four years in office, which is renewable subject to performance and the removal of dichotomy between Higher National Diploma (HND) holders and Degree holders, a change which was not accommodated in the initial revision.

Further to the reforms, on the 26th of February, this year, President Tinubu ordered the merging of Ministries and Parastatals, when he announced the full implementation of the Steve Oronsaye Panel’s report. The move, long agitated by some Nigerians, is aimed at streamlining government operations, reducing the cost of governance and eliminating redundancies in the Service.

The implementation of the report is expected to result in the scrapping and merging of about 263 Federal Government agencies expected to be reduced to 161. The implementation of all the reforms is to further transform the Civil Service for efficient and effective service delivery in Nigeria. However, reforms come with some difficulties. Recognizing this fact, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, approved palliatives to cushion the hardship being faced by the Civil Servants that included the payment of thirty five thousand naira wage award to all categories of workers in the Federal Civil Service and the setting up of a tripartite committee to review national minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

President Tinubu, in his Democracy Day message, promised to send an Executive Bill on the new national minimum wage to the National Assembly for legislation soon.In staying true to the reforms and in line with the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan is working for the institutionalisation of Performance Management System (PMS). This system will serve as a parameter for evaluating performance in the Federal Civil Service and the Implementation of the PMS as contained in the revised PSRs which commenced this year. The introduction of the Induction training, Structured Mandatory Assessment Training Programme (SMAT-P) and Leadership Enhancement and Development Programme, LEAD-P, are meant to scale up the capabilities and capacities of Civil Servants in Nigeria.

More importantly, the aggressive drive by Dr. Yemi-Esan to digitalise the Service by taking the lead with the innovation of its paperless operations also directed the MDAs to follow suit for maximum successes on automated and digitalise work processes. The objective of all these, the service says is to strengthen the new order in a bid to build and restructure the fundamentals of good governance powered by a world-class Civil Service. Her continued and sustained strides in leveraging technology earned Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, the sobriquet, “The Digital Head of Service.”

It’s expected that the innovations introduced over the years in the way of doing things differently in the Nigeria Civil Service will continue to improve service delivery as already witnessed under the years of reforms by the Service in Nigeria.

As this wind of change is blowing across the different strata of the Nigerian Civil Service and spreading the ambience of the political, economic and social development of the country, Nigerians are urged to continue to partner, support and prayers for the success of the leadership of the country.

Mohammed Ahmed is Director Communication office of the Head of Service of the Federation in Nigeria.

 

 

 

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