Nigeria Civil Service

Chapter One


With the emergence of the modern state, the civil service in post-colonial African countries evolved not only to formulate policies but also to effectively implement them. In this regard, the civil service is an institution saddle with the responsibility of designing, formulating and implementing public policy, and discharge government functions and development programmes in an effective and efficient way. In many African countries especially Nigeria, development efforts and government policies are threatened by the incompetency and ineffectiveness of the civil service. As a result of this, successive governments in Nigeria (from post-independence era to the contemporary times), have embarked on articulated patterns of reforms aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness in the civil service. Still, the service remains inefficient and incapable of reforming itself (Salisu, 2001:1) and bedeviling by weak governance structure, red-tapism, weak accountability, low professional standards, waste and corruption, poor productivity, and lack of control, redundancy and over-bloated staff structure.

Fringe Benefits, Pay Reform, Review and Update of Public ServiceRules and Financial Regulations without delving into the governance and democratization of administrative structure will be futile and unsustainable at best.


1.1 Historical Development Of Nigeria Civil Service

The civil service in 1990 consisted of the federal civil service, the twenty-one autonomous state civil services, the unified local government service, and several federal and state government agencies, including parastatals and corporations. The federal and state civil services were organized around government departments, or ministries, and extraministerial departments headed by ministers (federal) and commissioners (state), who were appointed by the president and governors, respectively. These political heads were responsible for policy matters. The administrative heads of the ministry were the directors general, formerly called permanent secretaries. The “chief” director general was the secretary to the government and until the Second Republic also doubled as head of the civil service. As chief adviser to the government, the secretary conducted liaison between the government and the civil service.

The major function of the director general, as of all senior civil servants, was to advise the minister or the commissioner directly. In doing so, the director general was expected to be neutral. In the initial periods of military rule, these administrative heads wielded enormous powers. For some time, the military rulers refused to appoint civilian political heads. Even after political heads were appointed, it was years before the era of “super permanent secretaries” to end. That happened in 1975 when, after Gowon’s fall, the civil service was purged to increase its efficiency. Many of the superpermanent secretaries lost their jobs, and the subordinate status of permanent secretaries to their political bosses was reiterated. Another consequence of the purge, reinforced subsequently, was the destruction of the civil service tradition of security of tenure. The destruction was achieved by the retirement or dismissal of many who had not attained retirement age.

Until the 1988 reforms, the civil service was organized strictly according to British traditions: it was apolitical, civil servants were expected to serve every government in a nonpartisan way, and the norms of impersonality and hierarchical authority were well entrenched. As the needs of the society became more complex and the public sector expanded rapidly, there was a corresponding need to reform the civil service. The Adebo Commission (1970) and the Udoji Commission (1972) reviewed the structure and orientations of the civil service to make it more efficient. Although these commissions recommended ways of rationalizing the civil service, the greatest problems of the service remained inefficiency and red tape. Again in 1985, a study group headed by Dotun Phillips looked into the problems. It was believed that the 1988 reforms, the most current measures aimed at dealing with the problems of the service as of 1990, were based on this report.

Compared with the 1960s and 1970s, the civil service by 1990 had changed dramatically. It had been politicized to the extent that most top officials openly supported the government of the day. The introduction of the quota system of recruitment and promotion, adherence to the federal-character principle, and the constant interference of the government in the day-to-day operation of the civil service–especially through frequent changes in top officials and massive purges–meant that political factors rather than merit alone played a major role in the civil service.

The 1988 reforms formally recognized the politicization of the upper echelons of the civil service and brought about major changes in other areas. The main stated objective of the reforms was “to ensure a virile, dynamic and result-oriented civil service.” As a result, ministers or commissioners vested with full executive powers were fully accountable for their ministries or commissions. The director general had become a political appointee whose length of tenure was dependent on that of the government of the day; in practice, this meant that directors general need not be career civil servants, thereby reducing the latter’s career prospects. Each ministry had been professionalized so that every official, whether specialist or generalist, made his career entirely in one ministry, whereas previously an official could move among ministries. A new department–the Presidency–comprising top government officials was created at the federal level to coordinate the formulation of policies and monitor their execution, thus making it a clearinghouse between the president and all federal ministries and departments.

The reforms created a new style of civil service, but the structure might change under later governments with different priorities. In the past, the attempt by every government to effect changes in the civil service produced many discontinuities. Ministries have been constantly restructured, new ones created, and existing ones abolished. Nevertheless, the 1988 reforms might solve some of the problems of the civil service, because most civil servants tended to remain in their jobs despite reorganizations. Also, the move of the capital from Lagos to Abuja the early 1990s will provide new opportunities to apply the federal-character principle in replacing Lagosian civil servants unwilling to move.


1.2 Meaning And Nature Of The Nigeria Civil Service

The Nigerian Civil Service is an important institution of the state. Infact, it is almost the most important institution of Nigerian State affecting the life of citizens daily. It is essential to modern life because of the roles it plays. Therefore, the quality of the Civil Service is important to the quality of modern life. The Nigerian Civil Service has undergone various changes since the amalgamation of the socio-political development in Nigeria has over the years had some major and tremendous effects on the Civil Service. Such developments include State creation, the civil war, the Military regimes, Political instability, ethnicity, Federal Character and so on (Omotoso, 2001).

In 1900, Britain formally established its authority over the political communities in the country. The amalgamation of both the Northern and Southern Protectorates laid the framework for the evolution of a centralized bureaucratic structure in Nigeria. British imposed a unified Civil Service in Nigeria. The imposed civil Service was mainly concerned with the maintenance of law and order and the mobilization of enough local resources in order to ensure that colonial administration was self sufficient. According to Ciroma, The Nigerian Civil Service began as a force of occupation designed to facilitate colonial rule and the exploitation of the land and its people for the benefit of the colonial authority (Ciroma, 1977). The Colonial Civil Service in Nigeria was not concerned with the growth and development of the Nigeria Nation. It was more interested in exploitations of Nigerians.

The structure of Nigerian Civil Service is patterned on the British model. The service is divided into classes, viz administrative class, executive class, professional class, clerical class and the messengerial class. The nationalists’ agitation for independence brought about the introduction of the Nigerianisation policy. The essence of this policy was to make Nigerian Civil service entirely staffed, managed and controlled by Nigerians themselves (Omotoso, 2001).

At independence in 1960, so many British officials were replaced with Nigerians but inspite of this, the old (Colonial) method of doing things was still predominant in the Civil Service. In other words, the whites were replaced by Nigerians; yet, the west Minister-patterned General Orders and Financial instructions remained the operational codes in the Nigerian Civil Service.

At independence, Nigerians had virtually taken over the control and management of the civil service. The Civil servants were inexperienced because of the indigenization policy most of them occupied positions that their abilities and capabilities in terms of experience, training and qualifications cannot cope with. A number of factors affected the quality and performance of the civil service in the First Republic One, was the indigenization policy. The civil servants that occupied positions were unprepared. They lacked the necessary training initiative and administrative acumen (Okunade, 1990). Second, was the administrative style. The Civil servants that took over from the British officials promoted and maintained the style, customs, conventions and the traditions they inherited from the colonial administration. This was a serious problem for the Civil service as change was very necessary. Three, was the nature of politics in the country. The politics in the First Republic was ethnically coloured, the three political parties the, the Action Group (AG) The Northern People’s Congress, (NPC) and the National Council of Nigerian and Citizens (NCNC) were working towards ensuring that the party from its zone takes over the control of the country. This led to a lot of crises that affected not only the civil 390 service but the entire country. Four, was the political Leadership. At independence in Nigeria, the leadership was immature, conservative, inexperienced and lacked foresight and vision. The meddlesome roles of the politicians of the first republic curtailed and inhibited the performance of the Civil Service. The second Republic Politicians were interested in all things that came their way. Infact, it can be simply said that they hijacked policy making and to some extent policy implementation completely from the Civil Service. This had demoralizing effects on the Civil Servants as they were not allowed to use initiative and to provide necessary advice for the country.

In 1999, the civil service assumed a new dimension, it became dynamic and effective, unlike the past, civil service were allowed to perform their traditional duty, which is to advice and to implement policies of government (The Punch, May 2, 2000). It is not our contention that the Civil service under Obasanjo administration was problem-free but that the regime gave new lease of life to the sector. In 1999, the civil service was revitalized by training and retraining. The change that was brought into civil service in 1999 by obasanjo regime is still thriving, the current administration has not

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done much to improve on what obasanjo did during his time, except the Eighteen Thousand Naira minimum wage for civil servants that is waiting to be approved by government, if approved at the end of the day, it will be an improvement to what Obasanjo regime did.


1.3 Functions Of The Civil Service

The Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) is responsible for

  • Representation of the Civil Service Commissioners at Senior Staff Committee meetings of Ministries
  • Review and approval of recommendations on Disciplinary cases of senior officers
  • Recruitment of senior Officers
  • Ratification of promotion of offices to senior positions, including conducting promotion interviews and exams
  • Hearing appeals on matters of appointment, promotion and discipline
  • Providing guidelines on appointments, promotions and discipline.

In the case of appointments at the Director or Permanent Secretary level, the Chairman of the FCSC may head a panel that interviews candidates who pass the written examination.



2.1 A comparative analysis of the Nigeria Civil service with the USA civil service

The United States civil service shares many of the same challenges as its counterparts on the state and local levels, as well as, members of the international community.  These public service systems each have their own unique characteristics, like the Nigerian Civil Service, but are facing similar challenges brought on by issues such as globalization, the knowledge economy, the often changing needs of the public, and the aging workforce.  Dealing with these challenges will depend on the government’s ability to build an infrastructure capable of recruiting, developing, and maintaining the appropriate civil service workforce to take on the challenges of the future.

Currently, organizations throughout the United States face intense competition for skilled workers.  Federal managers are competing with the private sector and this also the case with that of Nigerian, other public organizations, and even other Federal agencies for a share of the labor market.  In many cases, this is combined with years of downsizing and workplace changes that have affected the skills their organizations need.  There is an increasing need to improve the management of public organizations, thereby improving organizations’ ability to meet the public’s needs. When first established, the Federal merit-based hiring system was a simple process that covered a small portion of the civil service.  It has grown in both complexity and scope over the past 125 years.

The period of 1829-1883 is known in the United States as the “spoils system” era.  During this time Federal hiring was predominantly based on partisan loyalty, with relatively little regard to competence and qualifications.  This led to problems with corruption in government, incompetence in the workforce, and excessive civil service turnover after each election.  The era culminated in the assassination of then President Garfield by a disappointed office-seeker.

The Federal civil service system, was created with the passage of the Pendleton Act of 1883, as a response to growing concern over the spoils system.  It required that civil service positions be filled through competitive examinations open to all citizens and with selections being made from the best-qualified applicants without regard to political considerations.  This merit-based process originally covered only about 10 percent of government employees but grew over time to include a majority of civil service employees.

The first half of the 20th century brought with it a focus on efficiency and standardization, based largely on scientific management theories.  Given that government work was largely straightforward, routine, and low-graded, personnel processes were standardized to facilitate equity among civil service employees.

As the U.S. civil service advances through the “Information Age,” however, routine work is declining, knowledge-based work is increasing, and technology is redefining how work is accomplished.  Jobs are less easily standardized, and the skills needed by the workforce are more technical, specialized, and require employees to have the ability to continually learn and innovate.  These changes have caused a trend toward more flexibility in the hiring process, resulting in decentralization, delegation, deregulation, and the proliferation of human resources flexibilities and appointing authorities.

The last major Government wide reform, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA), sought to make the civil service more flexible and solve procedural and organizational problems that resulted in criticisms of the civil service system.  Prior to the CSRA, the Civil Service Commission was responsible for what many viewed as sometimes competing roles: advocating for the President and protecting principles of merit.  Therefore, the CSRA attempted to sort out the seemingly conflicting responsibilities of the one Civil Service Commission (CSC) by creating new organizations focused on specific aspects of the civil service: equal employment opportunity, employee appeals, labor relations, ethics, and the promulgation of personnel rules and regulations.

In particular, the CSRA established a system of checks and balances in the civil service.  On one side is management flexibility with a focus on the efficiency of the service.  The Act established the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) as the President’s chief advisor on civilian personnel matters.  The Director of OPM is appointed by the President and serves at the pleasure of the President.  The agency’s key responsibilities include promulgating regulations and maintaining programs that enable agencies to manage through the entire employee life cycle—e.g., examination and appointment, promotion, compensation, training and development, performance management, and employee benefits. OPM is also responsible for carrying out evaluations of agency personnel programs and operations.

On the other side is the protection of a merit-based civil service, with a focus on individual rights.  To protect against partisan political influence, the Act established the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).  The Board is composed of three members appointed by the President, not more than 2 of whom may be adherents of the same political party, and they each serve staggered 7 year terms.  This bipartisan design is intended to protect the principles of merit across administrations.  The MSPB assumed the employee appeals function of the Civil Service Commission and was given new responsibilities to perform merit systems studies and to review the significant actions of OPM.  These functions help ensure that employees are managed effectively in accordance with the merit system principles and free from prohibited personnel practices.

The Act also established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate and resolve discrimination complaints; the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to resolve issues related to collective bargaining and labor practices; and the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC) which receives whistleblower disclosures and investigates allegations of prohibited personnel practices and improper political activity in the civil service.  Dividing these formerly-CSC responsibilities among separate agencies serves to create a system of checks and balances and prevent conflicts of interest.  While the structure is occasionally revisited by legislators, it is generally seen as having achieved its purpose.

The Act also sought to make the civil service system more flexible to meet the ever changing needs of agency missions and a continually evolving environment in which the civil service had to compete for the talent that it needs.  In particular, it attempted to create a civil service system that would do away with some of the more prescriptive rules and regulations brought about by the era of standardization.  For instance, it established a Senior Executive Service (SES) that offered performance-based incentives to make executives more responsive to changing mission needs.  It attempted to launch merit-based pay for managers, again in an attempt to increase motivation to achieve agency goals.  It created a performance management system designed to hold employees accountable for results.  It also established a system that would allow agencies to experiment with civil service flexibilities to measure their effectiveness before enacting them Government wide.

These reforms have not necessarily been as equally successful as the civil service reorganization.  The civil service still faces the challenge of establishing a nimble system that is responsive to ever-changing mission requirements.  These are the issues that the US civil service continues to grapple with and that will continue to challenge us into the future.  Specifically, we need to focus on three key areas that will ensure the existence of a civil service that is responsive to the public’s needs to 2025 and beyond.  These areas include: improving managerial capability, building the right civil service workforce that is accountable for results, and managing a blended workforce responsible for carrying out the Government’s missions.

Our first concern is establishing a cadre of Federal managers who are well versed in motivating and managing a high-quality workforce.  These career managers set the tone for their employees in terms of agency goal accomplishment and determining performance expectations.  Several studies conducted by the MSPB and others have shown that Federal managers are often selected based on their technical qualifications rather than their ability to manage people and programs.  This often occurs because technical experts have reached the highest level possible within the organization.  To keep them in the organization, the agency often promotes them into a supervisory or managerial position.  However, to build an infrastructure that will focus on organizational results, the civil service needs to assess, select, and develop Federal managers based on their potential to lead, not primarily on their technical proficiency.

Second, the civil service needs to focus on building a workforce capable of accomplishing the Government’s mission now and in the future.  Large numbers of Federal employees are or will soon become eligible to retire.  Over the next 10 years, about 60 percent of the overall Federal workforce and 90 percent of the senior executive service will be eligible to retire.  At the same time, competition for high-quality talent among American employment sectors is getting more intense.  Some studies have shown that fewer new members of the nation’s workforce are prepared to take on the jobs that are in high demand and require highly technical skills such as jobs in science, engineering, and healthcare.  Therefore as the demand for these increasingly important skills grow and the supply of candidates with these skills decrease, competition will be fierce.

In order to meet this challenge the U.S. civil service as well as the Nigeria Civil service will need to reevaluate how it recruits, selects, develops, and retains its workforce.  We will need to focus our efforts towards reforming our hiring system to make it more nimble and competitive, while continuing to ensure that workforce decisions are made in accordance with merit.  Agencies will need to continue to explore the use of flexibilities, such as telework and retention allowances, to retain essential skills.  They will also need to identify ways to ensure the smooth transfer of institutional knowledge while planning for succession.  Additionally, we will need to devote more attention to developing the skills in the workforce that will be needed to meet the agency missions of tomorrow.  Few U.S. agencies currently have systems that effectively identify skill gaps, and we often rely on traditional training processes to develop needed skills, which may be insufficient in such a fast changing environment.

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Unfortunately, the Federal Government also often fails to market itself as an employer of choice.  Agencies often use job announcements that are poorly written, difficult to understand and filled with jargon.  This can actually discourage potential applicants from applying for federal jobs.  In addition, new hires rely heavily on passive recruitment strategies, such as word of mouth and the Internet, for information on Federal job openings.  These strategies largely rely on the applicant’s existing awareness of the Federal Government.  This means that we are likely missing out on candidates who do not have current knowledge of employment opportunities with the Federal Government.  To effectively recruit, the Government needs to be more proactive in recruiting for jobs.  Also, it needs to do better at marketing Federal employment and the many benefits of working for the Government, such as the challenging and rewarding work, flexible work environments, and superior benefit packages.

Notably, a number of Federal agencies have demonstrated that it is possible for the government to effectively compete for talent.  They have made recruitment an organizational priority, allocated the necessary resources to it, and employed proactive and creative approaches in their recruitment strategies.  Additionally while they have attempted to achieve efficiencies in their efforts, they have also emphasized quality recruitment strategies that target the needed applicant pool.

In addition, agencies will need to change how they motivate and reward their employees to maintain employee and organizational capability in a fast-changing world and thereby remain competitive with other employers.  One trend in this direction, which will likely continue, is an increased emphasis on results.  This may include movement towards the use of pay for performance compensation systems for a greater portion of the Federal workforce.  Already a number of agencies have authority to establish their own pay systems, with greater control over pay rates and individual pay changes.

Finally, the civil service needs to establish management principles that will help it manage a blended workforce.  The blended or multi-sector workforce includes any person or group that works to accomplish a mission of a Federal agency.  Increasingly, the Federal Government relies on full-time, part-time and term Federal employees, contractor employees from the private or non-profit sectors, employees at the state and local levels or even grantees.  It is now relatively common to have Federal employees working side-by-side with non-Federal employees, primarily contractor employees.

According to the National Academy of Public Administration, these working arrangements create challenges in the areas of human capital management, accountability, social equity and values, and organizational culture.  For example, companies that perform work for the Government do not need to operate merit-based personnel systems.  Federal supervisors oversee the work of Federal contractors but do not have direct supervisory authority over them to hold them accountable for their work.  Contracting Officer Representatives who oversee Federal contracts often do not have the skills or training to effectively carry out their duties.  There have not yet been comprehensive studies regarding the implications of the growing multi-sector workforce on the ability of the Government to provide services to the public.  However, two key questions that should be answered in the near future include: 1) how should the Government hold non-Federal entities accountable for Government work and 2) to what degree should merit-based personnel practices be extended to non-Federal entities.

To be more nimble and responsive to changing mission requirements, Federal agencies have argued that they need more civil service flexibilities.  They need to hire and fire faster, they need to be able to target recruitment efforts, and they need to be able to offer a compensation package that is competitive with other employers.  Many agencies have succeeded in obtaining flexibility outside of the traditional competitive civil service structure.  However, greater agency flexibility entails greater Government wide complexity.

For decades now, agencies have identified problems specific to their organizations and attempted to mitigate these challenges through use of individual legislation, regulatory approvals, budget requests, or demonstration projects.  In the absence of Government wide reform, we expect that agencies will continue to pursue individual remedies through demonstration projects or legislation. There are advantages and disadvantages to this agency-by-agency approach.

The primary advantage is customization.  Agencies can tailor their management strategies to better meet their mission requirements without being hindered by unnecessary regulations or processes.  The primary disadvantage is fragmentation.  The Government loses the ability to achieve economies of scale through systematic approaches to human capital management.  Furthermore, competition may increase among agencies and provide advantages to those with more resources and leadership support, while disadvantaging agencies with fewer resources.  All of these factors can affect merit and the ability of individual agencies to hire and maintain a high-quality workforce.

As the U.S. civil service looks toward 2025 and evaluates what reform is necessary to meet the challenges of the future, we also need to ensure that principles of merit are maintained.  The concept of merit was first introduced with the civil service reform of 1883.  The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA) later codified nine merit systems principles to ensure that applicants and employees are treated fairly and equitably in terms of selection, promotion, retention, development, and performance management.  These merit system principles embody good management practices and as such provide a solid foundation for our civil service today and into the future.  The nine merit systems principles codified in the CSRA are:

  1. Recruit qualified individuals from all segments of society, and select and advance employees on the basis of merit after fair and open competition.
  2. Treat employees and applicants fairly and equitably, without regard to political affiliation, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or handicapping condition.
  3. Provide equal pay for work of equal value and reward excellent performance.
  4. Maintain high standards of integrity, conduct, and concern for the public interest.
  5. Manage the workforce efficiently and effectively.
  6. Retain or separate employees on the basis of their performance.
  7. Educate and train employees when it will result in better organizational or individual performance.
  8. Protect employees from improper political influence.
  9. Protect employees against reprisal for lawful disclosure of information in “whistleblower” situations (i.e., protect people who report things like illegal and/or grossly wasteful activities).

2.2 Problems of Nigerian Civil Service

Nigeria civil Service has over the years been facing myriads of problems that have also made it difficult for the system to function effectively as agent of development. Some of these problems are analysed below.

One, is poor remuneration, despite the increment in salary, the civil service salary in Nigeria is still very low. Because of the low salary, Most civil servants are engaging in sharp practices, most of them keep business letter headed papers, invoices receipts of various companies owned by them and because suppliers and contractors even to their own offices.

This affects their contribution to development.

Two, is corruption, this has become more or less a permanent problem in the Nigerian civil service. Bureaucratic corruption in Nigeria continues to grow by leaps and bounds. So many civil servants have defrauded and embezzled government money earmarked for developmental purposes. Most of them would demand for money before rendering their supposedly service to the members of the public. This has made development difficult via the civil service (Omotoso, 2001). Most of the civil servants are living above their income.

Three, is the over bloated civil service, the Nigerian civil service is over bloated as many are employed without doing anything. Apart from this, incessant state creation exercise is also contributing to the problem. When new state is created, civil service is also expanded, therefore, the urge to fill the necessary position in the civil service by the new state always lead to urgent and compulsory promotion, so, in the process, many civil servants are promoted above their efficiency and productivity.

Four, is political instability, the political instability that characterized Nigerian nation has caused a fatal blow to the development and growth of the civil service.

Five, is inadequate training and retraining this affect the productivity of the civil service and consequently development of the nation. Training is not adequate in the civil service, even when it is carried out, it is politicized.

Six, is lacking of planning and vision. Most Civil servant do not have genuine interest for development. They are not committed to the course of development. They are mostly interested in what will benefit them and their immediate family. They are less concerned about the overall development of the country.

2.3 Achievements of the Nigerian Civil service

The Nigerian civil service is exceedingly efficient, absolutely incorruptible in its upper stratum, and utterly devoted and unstinting in the discharge of its many onerous duties. For our civil servants, government workers and labourers to bear, uncomplainingly and without breaking down, the heavy and multifarious burdens with which we have in the interest of the public saddled them, is an epic of loyalty and devotion, of physical and mental endurance, and of a sense of mission, on their part. Furthermore, Sule Katagum and others built the pillars of professionalism from the platform of an incorruptible public service commission through a competency-based HR regime. Ayida, Asiodu, Joda et al put incredible policy intelligence at the behest of the Gowon administration, while instituting national economic planning as instrument of planned development

Between Adebo and Udoji, especially, is a synergistic reform trajectory that constitutes a diagnostic template around which the pre-and post-independence evolution of the civil service can be mapped. Adebo set the reform tempo first with his unrivalled success at the Western region civil service. However, beyond the achievements at the regional civil service, the legacy of Simeon Adebo extends to his perceptive diagnosis of the encroaching degeneration of the inherited civil service.

Chapter Three

3.1 Evaluation of the performance of the Nigeria Civil Service

Since earliest times, strong recognition has been accorded a permanent body of officials for the sole purpose of implementing governmental decisions. With the mergencies of modern states, the civil service of a state is a derivation of the political system within which it operates. Aside from the primary functions of civil service, which include, advising political office holders on policy formulation on all aspects of governmental activities to ensure formulation of policies that are in line with the objectives of the incumbent government and that are relevant to peoples’ needs, implementation of governmental policy decision, sustenance of continuity of the state, regulation of business activities and provision of social services, the civil service also plays a dominant role in socio-economic development of any country, especially in Nigeria where the public sector plays a direct role in national development (Ajayi, 1997).

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Civil Service in Nigeria occupies a unique position in the formulation and implementation of national development plans. The Public Service Review Commission main report of (2004) is concerned primarily with development and the use of the public service for this purpose. The report argued that we must consciously understand and articulate our objectives and define appropriate means to achieve them. The commission affirmed that a trend in social change in Nigeria is the increasing role of government in sustainable development. This required that public services, especially the civil service increasingly adopts management methods, development requisite managerial skills and acquires a new approach that include project management that will ensure and assure sustainable development.

As analyzed in the previous section of this paper, the civil service had to a great extent been affected by the nature and politics of Nigeria since independence. During the colonial era, the civil service was mainly concerned with the maintenance of law and order and existence of a peaceful climate suitable to the colonial masters. After independence, the emphasis was on social and economic development. The civil service had to adapt its basic role to the new challenges. With the advent of the military government in January, 1966 and the suspension of the constitution, the civil service became exposed to functions essentially incompatible with its traditional roles (Olagunju, 2000). After the civil war of 1967-1970, the role of the civil service shifted to preserving national unity, nation reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction. With  increase in oil revenue, emphasis shifted to the development of infrastructures andprovision of social services. From early 1979, the role of the civil service has had to adopt to modern challenges of managing an ailing economy through Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), Rationalization, Nationalization and of recent, Privatization, Poverty alleviation, empowerment e.t.c.

It should be noted at this juncture that series of reforms have been carried out in the Civil Service over the years. These reforms are put in place to bring sanity to the system and to effectively position the Civil Service for effective service delivery capable of ensuring sustainable development in Nigeria. Most of these reforms are also implemented at state and local level so as to generate development in the grassroots.


3.2 Possible solution of the Nigerian Civil Service

In Nigeria governance is largely typified by expansion patronage and authoritarian rule. Poor African Countries perform badly, considering the varying degrees they suffer from a number of pathologies like inefficiency, centralization, fragmentation, poor leadership, lack of capacity, patrimonialism, corruption, poor accountability and legitimacy. According to Ayoade (1988:107-111), the need to improve efficiency and accountability in Nigerian Civil Service is therefore obvious. Nigeria should stop copying verbatim foreign models of Civil Service but develop her own model that will enable her achieve her developmental needs. She has to do this by emulating those countries that had suffered the same fate but have now adopted their Civil Service to their socio-cultural values and have achieved results. With the disillusionment of a centralized control of the Civil Service in Nigeria today, the government is increasingly under pressure to improve its administrative efficiency and to render faster, better and more responsive services to a client public. Unfortunately there is still a uniform centralized control of the service as was put in place by the colonial masters although with little modification. It was effective for them in the accomplishment of their mission in Nigeria. But today it is no more effective for us if we must meet the challenges of development in this 21st century. Nigeria therefore should decentralize her Civil Service to a reasonable extent from the center to the out-post offices so as to give them power to attend to emergencies as they arise. This will go a long way in strengthening the system. Nigeria should borrow a leaf from some advanced countries like Asian countries, France, US, Germany, Netherlands, and Canada who have tremendously improved their Civil Service by making it more Client public-oriented. They achieved this by using a model of centralized control allowing a reasonable degree of decentralization, flexibility and delegation of Civil Service Management system. Nigeria should emulate the above mentioned industrialized countries by embarking on a search for ways to reduce Civil Service expenditures and at the same time improve performance standards in government by adopting the “New public management (NPM) style” or the “New Managerialism”. It could do this by way of adopting different phases in her reform process. Hood (1991), opined that major New Public Management (NPM) doctrines are that (a) direct public sector costs must be cut, (b) Private sector style management practices must be applied to increase flexibility in decision making (c) competition in the public sector must be increased to help lower costs and better standards (d) the public sector must be decentralized to make units more manageable and productive (e) results should be stressed rather than procedure (f) explicit standards and performance measure must be established because accountability requires clearly stated aims and efficiency requires attention to goals (g) managers must be given powers for professional management, because accountability requires clear assignment of responsibility not diffusion of power. According to Jann (1997:96), the NPM inspired measures include reduction and refocusing of public sector functions through staff reductions and changes in budgetary allocations, restructuring of public organizations through reorganization of ministries, decentralization, delinking or hiring-off of central government functions to local governments or other bodies or private sector, etc.

To reduce and refocus Civil Service activities in Nigeria, Civil Service workforce must be reduced. Lienert and Mordi, (1997) agree that measures are to be taken along this line and they must come in phases. The first approach could be called “cut back management” which will help in curbing public spending and Civil Service staffing in response to the fiscal constraints of the country. This could be done through further down-sizing exercise of the Civil Service staff which would be achieved through the removal of “Ghost” workers, elimination of vacant posts, retrenchment of redundant staff or recruitment slow downs, freezing of hiring, compulsory retirement at a legal age, transparent privatization of government functions / activities, establishment of guaranteed jobs for graduates, voluntary retirement and lay off of non-permanent staff.

The second approach is to (a) reduce direct role of government in managing the economy and in producing services so as to enable the private sector, local governments and communities provide such services, (b) policy formulation, co-ordination, regulations and monitoring functions of government should be strengthened (c) to change the way Civil Service is managed by establishing performance incentives and (d) to re-organize ministerial functions including decentralization, corporatization, out sourcing and privatization.

The third approach is to use fiscal reform to spearhead shifts in budgeting allocations, towards core government functions.

The Nigeria government is advised that in applying the above approaches, it should do it in line with the level of the social and economic needs of the country. Some examples of the countries that adopted cut back management according to Nunberg (1995) included the United States of America in the early 1980s. Dutch government’s downsizing exercises reduced the Civil Service personnel by two percent per annum, in the mid 1980s, a Japanese programme to reduce Civil Service staff by five percent took place between 1986 and 1992, and the U.K’s reduction of Civil Service staff by 22 percent was between 1979 and 1989.

3.3 Conclusion

It is observed that the Nigerian civil service is an important institution of the state. In fact, it is almost the most important institution of Nigerian state affecting the life of citizen. It is essential to modern life because of the roles it plays. Therefore, for civil service to be more effective in its developmental roles, the following suggestions are put forth.

One, the civil servant should be trained and retrained on regular basis if the stock of mental tools and Professional techniques are not to become obsolete. Such training should be deliberately planned, made compulsory and geared towards the achievement of specialization and professionalism.

Two, Appointment into civil service must be based on merit and qualification. Three, the civil service should be made attractive in all respects, and accorded greater recognition and responsibility. Civil servant should be motivated to stimulate them to effective efforts, because individual productivity capacity depends very largely on one’s level of psychic satisfaction. This will increase the level of commitment, hard work, creativity and disposition among the civil servants.

Four, promotion should be based on merit, while outstanding performances with concrete achievement should attract preferment. The merit principle is to preserve objectivity, rationality and consistency in handling personnel matters in the loyalty and commitment of carrier civil servants.

Five, the use of modern equipment such as computers should be introduced across board. And civil servant should be trained for these modern equipments to enhance greater productivity.








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