In general, the word “reform” would refer to efforts and initiatives undertaken to effect changes especially in an institution or a practice in order to improve on its performance. The long-term objective of a reform process is to significantly change the existing orientation, structure, functioning and efficiency of the system. In reference to Czechoslovakia experience. More often than not, reform could be a long-term process, which at times could span several consecutive governments in a difficult, highly competitive and rapidly changing external environment. Therefore, the duration of a reform effort would largely be influenced by the depth of changes being promoted and the desired outcome envisaged.
On assumption of Office, the Head of Service Winifred Oyo-Ita initiated a critical study and evaluation of the current state of the Federal Civil Service, especially its operational dynamics. This is besides the general review of the structure and functions of some MDAs arising from the merger of some Ministries by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR as part of continuing efforts to re-invigorate the Civil Service, and reduce the cost of Governance.
The efforts birthed the new ethos of EPIC, a strategic framework that will elevate the Civil Service to an enviable height, as the primary mechanism for the implementation of government policies and programmes. The new EPIC culture requires that the Civil Service and Civil Servants be Efficient, Productive, Incorruptible and Citizen-Centred (EPIC).
Unarguably, the public sector performance in personnel management, payment of owed allowances in arrears to civil servants, promotions training and retraining of staff, and the digitization of the public service are major performance indicators in the ongoing public service reforms of President Muhammadu Buhari led administration.
Reforms are not carried out only to create a friendly public service atmosphere, but to strategically position and reposition major factors of production to drive growth and sustainable development of the public sector and boost economy.
Setbacks arising from low productivity and underperforming public service necessitate reform procedures by any given administration to reawake the sleeping civil service, which by recent parameters and indices, major steps advanced by government to strengthen performance in the service had shown clearly the direction to go in ensuring service delivery in public sector.
Head of Civil Service in Nigeria Winifred Oyo-Ita’s thoughts on the new public sector is driven by integrity to be at par with foreign counterparts, the service in its ancestry order never envisaged effective partnership between the public and private players, which has fundamentally been responsible for stagnation and lack of growth.
To address the missing link between public and private, the ongoing reforms has created platforms for robust engagements to involve private operators in all sectors to contribute its expertise in technology, health, education, ICT, water, agriculture, mining, power and other relevant sectors responsible for the growth of GDP.
The reforms are usually funded with high expectation in output if government is sincere in its implementation strategy; the time frame under review is a clear indication that the handlers and managers of the entire process, the HOS has deployed its arsenals to beat deadline if adequate funding is guaranteed.
However, the yearly appropriations are standards capable of fast tracking delivery if the legislature attaches premium to the reform delivery date, to edify commitment on its part and promote parliamentary proceedings which are determinants to speedy passage of bills that translate to acts for implementation
Government is mindful of all projects it has set out to deliver within its time frame, especially the urgency to give Nigeria a modest civil service that promotes performance and defies environmental challenges and ancestry order relied on by predecessors, which led to failure to transit from the old order to a more robust public sector.
A performance contract is signed the day you assume headship of office in any establishment, the day you are subjected to oath, sworn to deliver unveils the actual signing of the performance contract, but election and appointments into office as clearly shown in the past marks the success story of the individual rather than view it as a challenge and call to serve.
Oyo-Ita’s secret is the fact, and to the effect that she viewed her office as a challenge to dedication and service to bring to bear her experience and intelligence to do something different, so she could hardly had fallen into the state of oblivion not to have taken account of her background, the journey which can be said to had been full of training experience in her civil service career.
Taking up the task of reforms is quite herculean, in the context of dominant stagnation in the functionality of the public service in Nigeria, an environment debased of innovations and resistant to effective change, transparency and openness in the conduct of government contracts and partnership with the private sector.
Critics are of the opinion that the 2017-2020 public service reforms implementation strategy be reviewed to capture the oil and gas sector and other relevant areas to secure a holistic sectorial reformation of the entire public service administration that is governed by conventions and strict regulations.
They have also accused the federal government of not adequately funding its projects and programmes in line with electoral promises, stressing the likelihood to fail abysmally in the reform process if funding is withheld to enable the handlers track the implementation strategy sequentially to the terminal period of 2020.
At most public functions attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, he never minx words and the show of support and affinity to the civil service, having more trust and confidence in the civil servants much more than fellow political associates and colleagues, especially in accountability, openness and transparency.
Mr. Buhari will prefer to work with the civil servant and ignore the noise of the politician, so his thoughts about the civil servant is to build capacity and integrity that will consolidate public sector operations for efficiency and service delivery in the economy.
–John wrote in from Abuja
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