The Imperatives Of Effective Civil Service To Development By: Mukhtar Jarmajo
The primary purpose and responsibility of government was to administer public trust as to secure the lives and property of the people and ensure the rapid development of our societies. To achieve these, the constitution of the federation of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) provides for a doctrine of separation of powers, which further puts government into three arms-the legislative, judicial and executive arms and charged them with particular functions.
The legislative arm was charged with the onus to check the excesses of the executive arm through legislation that details oversight function and appropriations. For the implementation of a policy, the executive has to present it to the legislature as a bill to be passed into law. And when a bill is passed to law it is sent to the chief executive for assent. For any decision at the legislature, a two-thirds quorum is needed.
At the judicial arm, the constitution is interpreted to resolve disputes whenever there is one, between the legislative and executive arms. And at the executive arm, government policies and programmes are defined as well as implemented. This arm is further put into two branches- the council of ministers/commissioners (as the case may be), which is the Executive Council and the Civil Service.
The executive council constitutes politicians who expectedly are in the know of the package of promises made during campaigns by the chief executive and are also competent enough to be their reincarnate at the ministries or departments they head. It also has a secretary to government as a non-executive member. At EXCO meetings, Memos from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) relating advise to the executives on how best to initiate and implement the policies of the government of the day are presented and discussed. The EXCO is not a Tender`s Board for approval and award of contracts and as such must not be made to look like one.
At the behest of the executive council the civil service operates. Its primary onus was to advise the chief executive on policy initiation and facilitate its efficient and effective implementation. Thus its imperatives as far as the smooth running of government as an institution cannot be over stretched. In the civil service there is what may best be referred to as nomenclature where civil servants are identified based on Cadre for instance, Administrative or Teaching Cadres and Grade Level for instance, GL1 Step 1. Whilst the former deals with the professional background of a staff, the latter deals with their seniority.
Seniority in the civil service is not determined by the highest qualification of a staff but their experience. The most senior staff in the civil service is Permanent Secretary who by virtue of the position is the chief accounting officer of the ministry or department they hold sway. A Permanent Secretary is answerable to the minister/commissioner in their ministry and the Head of Civil service alike.
The entire civil service is manned by a Head of Civil service who by virtue of the position is a member of the executive council. The Head of Civil Service`s main job is to work closely with the chief executive to see to it that the effectiveness and efficiency of the civil service so desired is being achieved.
Effectiveness is all about producing favorable results; hitting the target. In the civil service, two resources- human and financial are imperative. Thus for effectiveness, these resources should bring the desired results. And efficiency is all about the use of the resources to achieve the desired results including specifications for instance standards or time frame -productive use of the resources. In non-mathematical language therefore, effectiveness and efficiency are only achievable through ensuring discipline in the civil service.
Discipline here refers to adhering to public service rules and ethics whilst dedicating self to the service of God and humanity. It just means exhibiting commitment, dedication and willingness in the service and expecting blessings from God as the only reward.
Now, given the aforesaid, it is only clear that the civil service is the engine room of government. So, either directly or indirectly, the level of its effectiveness and efficiency has considerable degree of impact on the entire government as an institution and by extension the development of the society in general. Thus a nation that is to develop into an El Dorado of infrastructures direly needs an effective civil service that will not only provide workforce to government as an institution but also tell the executive the sincere truth whilst convincing it accept and use the advise given to it.
And on the contrary, it needs not a politicized civil service where recruitment of staff, appointments, promotions and postings are done with ulterior motives. It needs not a civil service of indiscipline where corruption, dereliction of duty, Absent With-Out Leave (AWOL) and most seriously, incompetence are the order of the day. It needs not a civil service that is in a state of decay and in the condition of huggermugger.
Jarmajo is on Twitter: @mukhtarjarmajo