The civil service is key to the economic growth of any country. It is usually the engine room of government.
The Nigerian constitution recognises the civil service as a significant part of the executive and functions as the main medium through which government policies are enunciated, developed and implemented.
Unfortunately, over the years, issues of poor and irregular income, poor attitude to work, and lack of training have bedeviled the public sector in Nigeria.
More worrisome is the wrong mind-set some Nigerians have of the civil service as a sector for redundancy and a breeding ground for corrupt practices.
Every patriotic Nigerian concerned about the economic growth of the country should be disturbed about the ineptitude in the civil service. How the Nigerian civil service managed to earn for itself a reputation for ineffeciency, low productivity, corruption and insensitivity to the needs of the public is a sad narrative that should worry every Nigerian.
Without any doubt, the reforms introduced by successive administrations to turn around the fortunes of the civil service have not yielded the desired results. Issues of favouritism, corruption, and ineptitude remain major challenges
However, in July 2017, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari approved the inauguration of the 2017-2020 Federal Civil Service Strategy And Implementation Plan (FCSSIP). Its focus is to improve and develop capacity in the public sector to collaborate with the private sector in advancing the nation’s economy.
The strategic plan has been hailed by several stakeholders, with its implementation expected to deliver N120 billion savings through the Integrated Personnel and Payroll and Information System (IPPIS).
The reform is also expected to sharpen the skills of over 25,000 civil servants through the performance module subsequently introduced by the head of service of the federation which is targeted at ensuring optimal performance by civil servants.
Also importantly, through the presidential directive, the 10 per cent employment ratio for Nigerians living with disability has been accommodated in the new plan as against 5 per cent.
Attempts to reform the civil service date back to as far back as 1963. This time around, however, we believe it is time Nigeria had a more efficient and effective service capable of propagating progressive policies that will lead to economic growth.
A look at the FCSSIP shows that it contains a number of characteristics which have increased its likelihood of success when compared with previous attempts.
The new reform has eight priority areas which include civil service automation, integrated Personnel and Pay Roll Information System (IPPIS), performance management and culture change.
It also has unique features which include high impact prioritisation of initiatives, specificity with actionable and detailed implementation plan, clear governance to drive reforms, communication plan and partnership for resources to support implementation.
It is the opinion of this newspaper that an efficient civil service would help the country obtain better credit ratings, attract more investments, accelerate technological innovation and increase the productivity of government.
The 2017-2020 FCSSIP, when fully implemented, it is believed, will generate a crop of skilled, motivated, disciplined and innovative civil servants that will change the current perception of Nigeria’s Civil Service as a decadent government vehicle.
This, we believe, will foster robust linkages between the public and private sectors in fast-tracking the socio-economic development of Nigeria.
This reform is also expected to form the bedrock for the successful implementation of the government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and ensure global upward ranking trend for Nigeria on the ease of doing business table.
As a newspaper, we urge strict adherence to the implementation timelines of the various aspects of the reform. The head of service of the federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, should spearhead the implementation to ensure increased efficiency and productivity of the service.
The reforms in the public service could not have taken place at a better time than now, considering the present administration’s commitment towards repositioning the public service sector for better performance and to provide high quality services to Nigerians and foreign investors.
It is on record that the performance of the civil service in its policy and technical support to government and the delivery of service to the public in the period from colonial era up to the mid 1970s was of a very high standard, even by international standards. But from the mid-1970s, however, the performance of the service began to deteriorate progressively.
Around the world, the civil service drives government’s policies. The long term objective of the current reform will be to re-invigorate the civil service to be at par with its foreign counterparts.
We believe time has come for the civil service to move way from the old ways of doing things so that a new narrative will evolve in that sector of public life.
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