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OPINION

Rebuilding Public Service In North East

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The aftermath of the north east insurgency by separatists has been devastating, as government institutions and the public service in the area experience very low output and a decrease in the region’s contribution to national development in over one decade.

The North east region contributes over 18 percent of the total food production in Nigeria, and has economic advantage for trade with other neighboring countries, contributing significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) before the separatists movement  forced the region to its knees.

This economic activity and the normal sessions of government institutions in the area is an integral part of the nations’ development and score card, which forms part of a report for performance indicators that determines the ranking of Nigeria in ease of doing business.

This set back became worrisome to Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, Head of Civil Service as it relates significantly to the ongoing public service reforms being carried out by her office to activate a new public service system that will boost productivity and monitor efficiency in all government institutions across the country.

It is about the third time in one year, 2018 that the HOS will be visiting Kigali the Rwanda capital and other towns and communities in that country for exchange programme to learn from each other in the strategic areas of national development of the health, education and other relevant sectors.

Sectorial reforms in Nigeria has not really experienced high level commitment with sincerity of purpose, which is the reason why it has constantly failed in the previous attempts made to stabilize the public service through sectorial performance of improved level of productivity and accountability.

The Rwandan government officials have also paid scheduled visits to Nigeria to see performance levels in the Nigerian public service, though the report of their visits indicates clearly that Nigeria has great potential for an enviable public service, but corruption, low productivity and lack of patriotism by citizens impeded the desired growth.

Experience drawn from the visits of the Nigerian delegation to Rwanda also clearly drew a distinction between the two countries in the areas of patriotism from citizenry, corruption reduced to the barest state, political will accelerated to the top and followership support base undiluted.

There is a comprehensive health insurance policy of the government of Rwanda that takes care of rural dwellers, farmers, artisans, labourers, civil servants, including those considered to be top public servants and politicians.

There are no special people articulated to benefit from the scheme more than others, everyone is given fair treatment and adequate medical care regardless of status, residences and the amount of money available to you.

In Nigeria, the policy is strictly for civil servants, we may not want to bother you with the details of the functions, which are to benefit from the scheme, but as we have copiously observed over the years, the health insurance scheme is for the Nigerian civil servant.

However, most of these flaws are currently being addressed by Oyo-Ita civil service reforms, which has a terminal period of 2020, a time frame designed to eliminate obnoxious regulations that have made it impossible for the informal sector to benefit from government people oriented schemes.

Rebuilding the civil service in the north east region has become an integral part of the ongoing reforms, having heard and learnt from the experience of the post-conflicts situation in Rwanda, where some years after, the economy and socio-political state of the country has become far more sustaining and enduring than before.

We hope Nigeria will not learn the lesson the hard way, because it has also passed through a civil war that lasted for about three years with horrific experiences and scars that are yet to disappear after about 48 years post-civil war in Nigeria.

Critics may question why Nigeria will have to learn from a small country of about 12 million people. Wisdom is profitable to direct a wise man, not a proud person and the application of wisdom in all areas of life far outweighs intelligence, knowledge and brilliance in academics.

A functional system is not subject to debates and arguments, so the federal government romance with Rwanda to develop and build capacity for the public service is a fundamental component of the ongoing civil service reforms.

The areas of concern right now are to track the activities of the HOS on this statement to integrate the north east civil service, which has been destroyed by separatists through violent attacks on government institutions and its personnel.

The Rwandan visit was to expose State and Federal Government officials in the delegation to the mechanisms applied during the post-conflict era in reconstructing and strengthening of public institutions.

Nigerian delegation had engaged Rwandan officials directly to learn about the peace building and social cohesion challenges in post-conflict context in relation to restoring service delivery in the North-East.

The intervention of the HOS in rebuilding the north east public service will necessitate and re-introduce federal government civil presence in the area, all that the residents see and know for a long time is the Army, Air force, Navy, Police force and other military and para-military agencies.

The sight of these military authorities will always put citizens and residents in a state of unconsciousness and divisibility, not until they begin to have more of civil authorities around them, there will be palpable fear in the people especially within the rural communities.

The thought of re-introducing civil authorities in the north east is about one of the greatest achievements of this administration, especially as the country go gradually into the 2019 general elections, where citizens would have to exercise their rights to elect their leaders.

Therefore, Nigerians will take the HOS to task to ensure that returning public institutions and public service to work in the north east is not only achieved, but promptly, taking into account the necessity to restore civil rights and authorities in the area ahead of the election year.

–Uket contributed this  piece from Abuja



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