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Civil Service And Economic Growth

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Parameters and economic indicators from statistics made available by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), show clearly that the ongoing civil service reforms by the Buhari administration has impacted positively on growth and output in major sectors of the public service in quarter one of the 2019 economic year.

Though the reforms are slightly above midway into its terminal period, 2020, haven’t kicked start the process in 2017, it expected that before the end of 2019, so much effects arising from over close to two years implementation strategy will actually determine its overall success and failure in the process of governance and economic recovery and growth plan.

Consistently, policy strategy is a determinant factor to achieve growth in all facets of endeavors, including the public service reforms, which by description and documentation assumed a higher dimension in its pursuit and strategic plan to ensure the Federal workforce is not used by unpatriotic Nigerians to divert public funds.

Ironically, it is about the first time in the history of the civil service to take a comprehensive documentation through the Integrated Personnel Payroll System (IPPIS), as government  subjects the entire workforce in the country to public scrutiny, to enable it determine who is a civil servant.

Various public service reforms took place in the past conducted by successive administrations, and at the end of such exercises government was unable to eliminate the appearances of ghost workers on the payroll, but the facts available to the public at the moment shows that the current reforms has drastically reduced and about to completely do away with multiplicity of payments to non-existing workers.

The operation show your certificates, educational qualifications and originals of appointment letters being conducted by the Office of the Head of Civil Service is scary to majority of the Federal Civil Servants whose data base in service is not regularized, either for noncompliance to the provisions of employment procedures into the civil service or that the affected staff does not exist in the employment list of government.

At the end of the exercise, it is expected that government would definitely cut down its workforce by a quarter and as well save billions of naira against the back drop of a seeming over bloated workforce that had become unproductive and lazy to deliver on its statutory duties and responsibilities.

That is the drive and focus of the reforms, ushering in a new civil service that will break the frontiers of old barricades and manmade impediments constituted over time to divert funds for personal use, excommunicating all forms of embezzling financial skills acquired to undermine growth and development of the Nation.

By the inauguration of the reforms in 2017, the Presidency had a number of predictions that could be the possible outcome of the exercise, ranging from streamlining the civil service, cutting down cost of governance, increase in productivity, efficiency in service delivery, improved welfare for workers and genuine training for staff.

Remarkably, a reasonable number of these predictions have been achieved by the reform process, although, the exercise is not hitch free in terms of compliance by civil servants cutting across all sectors including the University Community, Medical and Health workers, Environmental workers and other relevant institutions of government averse to the scrutiny to determine fake and ghost workers.

Interrogating the Federal workforce is not a new methodology of government, but its significance to broaden the public sector probe in accordance with regulatory frameworks embedded in the blue print of the Federal Government as developed by the current administration to ensure sustainable growth and development in governance and the economy.

Tougher measures to strengthen the public service as clearly seen is a strong indication that irregular recruitment and employment into the civil service will be eliminated, employing incompetent and non-qualified personnel will also be a thing of the past in the civil service.

For instance, about 800, 000 Nigerians are said to have applied to join the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), though about 500, 000, are said to have been shortlisted against the existing 8, 000 vacant positions in the agency, clearly, the competition is keen and its perceived standards and rating of candidates will be subject to merits and excellence in the performance of candidates.

Experts in the security organs of the Nation have argued that setting of standards to eliminate applicants is the only way to go in this exercise, while random sampling opinion polls insisted that there is no method of recruitment adopted by NCS that will rule out employment scam in favour of a few.

However, the ongoing reforms have addressed some of the lapses that could be anticipated in the recruitment of applicants into the public service, which over and above the Federal Character syndrome is competence and merit to replace mediocrity, sentiments, ethnicity and religious affiliations.

It is however expedient to note that actors in the reforms are civil servants and experts from various sectors  who are competent to take unbiased positions and canvass for openness as a significant provision outlined to address all issues and items that are salient against actions that may undermine the integrity of the reforms.

To activate a broad minded society, government has to be more polite and ensure strict compliance to new methods introduced to drive needed growth, productivity, efficiency, incorruptible culture amongst not only the civil servants, but the entire society and the Nigerian people home and abroad.

Winifred Oyo-Ita, the woman at the helm of affairs in the change and public sector reforms had at many forum assured Nigerians that at the completion of the reforms, civil servants would no longer see corruption as a fashion and means to an end, but view corruption as a monster with the capacity to undermine development.

She had posited that the civil service and the public service by extension must comply to imminent change as being institutionalized through the reforms, especially in the areas of financial discipline and capacity building for staff to deliver on the mandate and statutory responsibilities assigned earlier.

Nigeria is among a few most potentially endowed Nations with abundant human and natural resources as quoted by the United Nations, drawing the strength from our participation in the Information Computer Technology ICT, where the Nation had zero participation in 1999, but today the country competes at global ratings.

What had stood against development and growth has been corruption and lack of patriotism by the people, not only those in government, so, a new culture as being strengthened by the Federal Government through its reform agenda will address low productivity and stealing of public funds.

To drive through this process successfully, Mr. President must be wary of the fifth columnists who are not hesitant to blackmail personalities involved in driving the vehicle of growth through the civil service reforms, they are experts in sabotage to truncate the process of development by giving the handlers of the civil service reforms a bad name in order to hang and nail them.

From experience, it has become very difficult if not impossible for President Muhammadu Buhari to be bamboozled by these unpatriotic and power monger elements, only interested in what they can get from the system, not what they can contribute to achieve desired development.

It is therefore instructive to mischief makers and their cohorts to allow the civil service reforms to run to its terminal period with the drivers intact, if the good work which the present administration has started must outlive its office for posterity.

– Uket, a Public Affairs consultant, wrote  from Abuja

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