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Public Service Reform And Quality Governance

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The review of conflicting values that often put forward arguments of collision course in the public service are said to be tackled through the ongoing reforms by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

It focuses on public values and relates the topic to the broader value framework of quality of governance. It also discusses some of the problems that exist in the public service such as the absence of established acceptable ethical norms and when there are, they are ignored with impunity.

It looks at the role of rampant poverty in breeding corruption, and the fact that public service institutions are weak. The cases of Nigeria (still a developing nation) and South Africa are briefly reviewed. They present two insightful case studies to analyse the clash between public values and quality of governance in public service delivery.

However, within the space of one year, the Nigerian civil service led by its leadership, Winifred Oyo-Ita, visited Rwanda for about the third time, some weeks back, to exchange knowledge. Similarly, officials of the Rwandan civil service were in Nigeria at separate intervals to look at the various levels of development in the Nigerian public service.

There are concerns about public service values in the framework of quality and ethical governance. The ethical and cultural dimensions of Alternative Service Delivery are discussed both at global, national and local levels.

A post-war trend for government has been the development of government-centred public service. The rise of government’s responsibility to the people in the form of providing what is viewed as necessary services has been a central focus in the field of Public Administration. The role of government has been in direct correlation with a shift in public values, occurring internationally and nationally, many times driven by nations’ progress towards development.

Public service delivery is an important dimension of development administration that involves the government, private, and third sectors. Public services include health, education, employment assistance, infrastructure, and agriculture to name a few. Populations across the globe often demand that their governments deliver public goods to them; however, in some instances, particularly when it concerns extreme poverty, these demands go unmet by governments.

The debated concepts of “public values” and “quality of governance” are clearly defined and conflicting values between government and the civil servants are explored. This also applies to poverty and corruption as impediments to successful public service delivery in developing countries. The cultural and ethical dimensions of Alternative Service Delivery (ASD) are discussed at the global, national, and local levels.

There are certain principles that should be universal in order to properly develop the building blocks of good institutions. The concepts of “governance” and “good governance” are also hotly debated within academic and political circles. To identify and list values that are applicable for all stages of government must be considered, though a difficult task.

From a materialistic view, public values are what drive consumers, in this case society, to demand certain goods and services from providers. Who the providers are has also changed through time, due in part to changing values. When people once looked purely at their government to provide certain services, new providers have emerged which sought to fill the gaps or share the load of governments in providing public services. Non-profit organisations, non-governmental organisations, multinational organisations, contracted corporations, and even the fracturing of government into state or local governments, have all become major players in the realm of public service delivery.

Nigerian delegation to Rwanda recently can confirm to the fact that certain strategic policies of the state are strong enough to create delivery, for instance, the working system of the health policy scheme that guarantees adequate and affordable health care to rural dwellers, not minding how remote communities are situated.

The education sector in that land has pedigree, the political class is conscious of national development to stand above inequality that guarantees Rwandans equal rights to basic needs, citizens are not hindered by tribes and ethnic bias, certainly this reawakening will address deliberate blocks created to undermine the less privileged class.

There are many conflicting values that can stand in the way of successful implementation of PSD in developing countries. While most governments and non-governmental organisations are well intentioned to provide aid to the poor, often times the systems do not allow for success. For example, since aid is usually brokered through governments, considerable aid can often be siphoned off by corrupt officials, either through outright embezzlement or by diverting aid disproportionately to government employees and/or the well-connected elite.

– Eke writes from Abuja.

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