SERVICOM: In search of further legal teeth for service delivery

In this report, BINTA SHAMA writes that stakeholders are putting their heads together in order to fashion out appropriate status for SERVICOM towards actualising its mandate.
SERVICOM was established as the outcome of a three-day special presidential retreat on service delivery with ministers, special advisers, presidential aides and chief executives of major extra-ministerial departments and parastatals in attendance. 

The civil service is said to have been unable to re-position itself for qualitative service delivery to the long suffering citizens of the country. Study shows that the despicable situation of the country’s federal bureaucracy is a product of several years of leadership failure and the concomitant erosion of public service values which together with other factors have contributed to the decay that has become the palpable identity of the country’s federal civil service. 

Poor service delivery or the absence of service delivery by the federal civil servants is a consequence of the persistent problems that have been bedeviling it. The problems are conceptual, attitudinal and operational. And this was why SERVICOM Compact was introduced to checkmate activities in the civil service in order to advance the economy of the country.

OGP expediting SERVICOM obligations
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from national and sub-national governments to promote open government, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. In the spirit of multi-stakeholder collaboration, OGP is overseen by a steering committee including representatives of governments and civil society organisations.
The OGP is said to provide a platform for reformers inside and outside of governments around the world to develop initiatives that promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.

OGP aims to secure concrete commitments from national and sub-national governments that drive open government reform and innovation in an effort to push countries further in the areas of transparency, accountability and citizen engagement. It is a voluntary partnership that countries opt to join and through which civil society organisations, in collaboration with government, can advance initiatives that they deem fit in line with their reform agenda.
The federal government under the present administration signed a pact with OGP in 2016 as the 70th country to wipe out the culture of corruption in the country to the barest minimum, after which an action plan was drawn to support it.

Bill before NASS
A bill is the enactment of a statute by parliament. The drafting of a bill, in particular, is one of the most important stages in the process. At that point, the drafters must take into account certain constraints. Failure to abide by these constraints may have consequences in relation to the interpretation and application of the law and the proper functioning of the legislative process. It’s said that when such bill is successfully passed, its purpose is achieved with positive change.

Just recently, SERVICOM, presidency and other stakeholders during a virtual meeting review of the SERVICOM drafted bill came to a conclusion that where the bill is passed into law, it would enhance the economy and the nation’s participation in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) globally in the present administration.

Speaking in the meeting at the SERVICOM headquarters, a non-actor stakeholders on improved service delivery thematic working group under the OGP Nigeria, Chris Ugwuala, said one of the reasons for the draft is to ensure the commitment  Nigerian government made under the OGP by Mr President is put on record. “We are going to be reviewed at the end of 2022 when the NAP II will end. So it beholds on us as citizens and stakeholders in this process to ensure that Nigeria is rated high as one of those countries who have fulfilled its obligations under the OGP. So I encourage everyone to be part of this public hearing on the 9th of February, 2022 by 9:am prompt so we can rest this bill and make sure we do what is expected of us as citizens, members of the public, the right service, the right time and the right places in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

SERVICOM bill to improve economy
While addressing the press on the importance of the bill, the national coordinator SERVICOM Mrs Nnenna Akajemeli stressed the need to connect government to citizens and vice versa. She said when the bill comes to play, it would cure every defect observed in the system without the issue of too much supervision or scrutiny because all hands would be on deck to get the necessary work done or face the consequences of negligence spelt out on responsibilities to a person or group of persons.
According to her, they are in strong synergy with stakeholders to hold service providers more accountable. 

“Its time to begin to gather and measure data on customers’ service experiences, reporting and bring to public domain. And also to empower citizens who come to take service from government. 
“So when the bill is passed into law, all hands would be on deck to entrench the culture of service excellence and dynamic changes that drive service improvement. 

“The customer service arm of running government’s business would reduce to the barest minimum incidences of service free-day and with time have a culture of seamless service experience as is obtainable in developed nations. This will hold us up as a responsible and develop nation in ensuring that indeed the service delivered by MDA’s truly touches the lives of the people and all stakeholders would be winner and happier for it,” she said.

Akajemeli, called on state and non-state actors to support the Service Delivery Bill before the National Assembly in order to strengthen the Open Government Partnership and the Service Delivery Initiative signed by Mr President.
Furthermore, she said the cooperation of all stakeholders in attendance of the meeting demonstrates the value placed on the Service Delivery Initiative of the government and SERVICOM’s commitment to actualise the mandates in the OGP’s programme. 

“SERVICOM Office being the lead agency in the Improved Service Delivery Thematic Area has under the purview, Commitments 15 & 16 of the National Action Plan (NAP) II which includes contributing to the improvement of quality service delivery in seven pilot ministries, departments and agencies (MDA’s) as well as the development of legal, legislative or executive instrument to firm up the process.

“We have collectively made progress as would be evidenced in the reports to be presented during the course of the meeting on the above commitments, hence the meeting is aimed at reviewing our action points on the bill,” she said.
The objectives of the meeting she said, was to engage with all stakeholders, provide a platform to discuss and explain the activities on Improved Service Delivery as it relates to Commitments 15 & 16 of the Nigerian OGP NAP 2 and to receive a buy-in and solicit the presence of all stakeholders, contributions, support and feedback during the public hearing.
Furthermore, she emphasized on stakeholders giving in their best on the above issues and to also participate actively during the public hearing at the National Assembly.

In his opening remarks, the non-state actors co-chair, Mallam Adamu Bahir called on state and non-state actors to see the public hearing as the most important aspect of the OGP process and work hard to ensure that the commitment 15 & 16 of the OGP is given adequate support to ensure that the process achieves high success.
He pledged his commitment to collaborate and give maximum support to SERVICOM to ensure that the bill is passed by the National Assembly.

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