It is a known fact that corruption is as old as man, but its prevalence in our nation has reached an alarming level. It has become a worrisome way of life of our people, thereby forming the basis for the ongoing fight against the ugly monster by President Muhammadu Buhari led administration.
The success and failure of any given government is largely determined by a transparent and productive public service, which clearly sets out to denigrate the abuse of processes in transacting government business, for instance, the award and payment of contract sums without necessarily knowing the permanent secretary or minister in charge of a particular organization
However, the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation has a dominant role to play in reshaping and repositioning the conduct and character of federal civil servants for a purposeful result oriented government business, devoid of corrupt practices and delays in official processes.
Thus, the office has developed new methods and strategies in its reform process to put public workers in check and met out appropriate and tougher sanctions to indolent civil servants that stay away from work and wait for the pay day. This group of people can equally be described as ghost workers since they contribute nothing to growth.
Again, these reforms had included the payment of allowances owed to public servants and the elongation of salary structure popularly known as new minimum wage which is speedily being considered for implementation by the Federal government in 2018.
One of the key programmes embarked upon by the OHCSF since the assumption of office by Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita is anchored on the Strategic Implementation Plan (2017-2020) put in place to reposition the Federal Civil Service. The Plan which has since been approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) is in line with the Change Mantra of His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration and is also in tandem with the recently launched National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
The plan which would bring significant change in the civil service has eight (8) priority areas namely: Re-design and re-launch of 3 core-training modules to improve staff competencies and skills through well targeted and funded programmes across all grade levels;
Again, the Nigerian civil service has always been viewed from the background of non-performance and lack of efficiency with deliberate attempts of corrupt practices of taking bribes from contractors before files are processed for payment or award letters.
Nigerians have since lost confidence in the manner government business was managed with complete absence of transparency and accountability, gross abuse of financial processes and public procurement which was reduced to ‘money for hand back for ground’.
Today, it is becoming very clear that the reform process introduced by the current leadership of the Head of Service is yielding results as workers welfare; promotion and backlog of allowances are being paid as well as the review and elongation of salary structure for civil servants.
In order to strengthen reforms, the OHCSF established the Directors, Reforms Coordination and Service Improvement Consultative Forum, aimed at providing a platform for knowledge, information and experience sharing among members.
Following the merger of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies by this administration to reduce overhead cost and improve efficiency in service delivery, a 16-member Committee comprising four former HOSs, five former Permanent Secretaries and five serving Permanent Secretaries, was constituted to review the structure of the affected MDAs. The committee has submitted its report and the recommendations have been affected accordingly.
Approval has also been granted for the restructuring of some offices for effective service. They include the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), National Agency for Great Green Wall (NAGGW), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Pharmacist Council of Nigeria (PCN), National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), Optometrist and Dispensing Opticians Registration Board, Nigeria Institute of Soil Science and Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC);
In order to ensure optimum manning level in the MDAs and also to obtain necessary data on the size of the workforce of MDAs, the 2017 Manpower Budget Exercise was successfully concluded with the issuance of Authorized Establishment to MDAs.
To further improve service delivery in the civil service, the Federal Digital Service Centre was launched. The Centre is a place where civil servants, both serving and retired can place calls to make enquiries about the service. The Centre also provides information to the public and serves as a link to PENCOM and PTAD.
The Office also established a Knowledge Acquisition Centre. The centre is equipped with computers and servers loaded with wide range of materials for research. The facility offers opportunities to civil servants to access information update their skills and keep abreast with international standards and best global practices in government service.
On the issue of outstanding claims and arrears owed public servants which had accumulated as far back as 2012, Mr. President has also approved and payment of the outstanding promotion arrears and other entitlements to the accounts of the beneficiaries has commenced;
However, it is regrettable to note that there are key challenges like, paucity and untimely release of funds for programme, lack of requisite training for civil servants Shortage of staff with requisite skills and shortage of modern office equipment and work tool.
Uket writes from Abuja