HOS AND FOREIGN DE­VEL­OP­MENT PART­NERS

The present ad­min­is­tra­tion is com­mit­ted to chang­ing the man­ner gov­ern­ment busi­ness is con­ducted, writes Ofem Uket

THISDAY - - COMMENT -

The new civil ser­vice struc­ture un­der the head­ship of Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita had sought ef­fec­tive part­ner­ship within and out­side the coun­try to tighten loose ends in the Fed­eral Civil Ser­vice and the en­tire pub­lic ser­vice sec­tor, as she had cau­tioned strictly per­ma­nent sec­re­taries and heads of agen­cies to de­velop cor­dial­ity in re­lat­ing with their po­lit­i­cal heads.

The over­all in­tent is to achieve the blueprint of Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion’s 2017-2020 Fed­eral Civil Ser­vice Strat­egy and Im­ple­men­ta­tion Plan as ma­jor re­form process of the pub­lic ser­vice in Nige­ria, aimed at en­thron­ing a new civil ser­vice regime.

Struc­tural de­fects in the past which had brought down the ef­fi­ciency and pro­duc­tiv­ity level in the pub­lic ser­vice have been un­der­go­ing com­plete over­haul with strategic in­puts from ma­jor stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing re­search pa­pers which are be­ing trans­lated into ac­tion.

Some ma­jor play­ers on the foreign scene in the strug­gle are the Depart­ment for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment (DFID), United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (UNDP), United States Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment (US­AID) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion.

Be­fore 1945 the colo­nial gov­ern­ment un­der­took no se­ri­ous com­pre­hen­sive plan­ning to re­form the pub­lic ser­vice, as its ear­li­est plan came be­tween 1946-55 Ten-Year Plan of De­vel­op­ment (with plan re­vi­sions in be­tween 1951-55) and the 1955-60 plan (later ex­tended to 1962), were framed by colo­nial ad­min­is­tra­tors. As the au­thors of the First Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan, 1962-68 had a se­ries of projects which had not been co­or­di­nated or re­lated to any over­all eco­nomic tar­get.” Af­ter 1960, how­ever, de­vel­op­ment plan­ning had a broad scope, en­com­pass­ing gov­ern­ment poli­cies to achieve na­tional eco­nomic ob­jec­tives, such as ac­cel­er­ated growth and higher lev­els of av­er­age ma­te­rial wel­fare. This plan­ning af­fected the poli­cies of such agen­cies as the cen­tral bank, state-owned en­ter­prises, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, mar­ket­ing boards, state-level de­part­ments, and ex­ten­sion ser­vices.

Nige­rian plans in­cluded eco­nomic fore­casts, poli­cies to­ward the pri­vate sec­tor, and a list of proposed pub­lic ex­pen­di­tures. Although Nige­rian po­lit­i­cal lead­ers made de­ci­sions about gen­eral ob­jec­tives and pri­or­i­ties for the first plan, foreign econ­o­mists were the main au­thors of the ac­tual doc­u­ment. Its au­thors favoured de­cen­tralised de­ci­sion mak­ing by pri­vate units and high eco­nomic pay­offs from di­rectly pro­duc­tive in­vest­ments as op­posed to indi­rect re­turns from so­cial over­heads. They dis­cour­aged in­creased taxes on the wealthy out of fear of damp­en­ing pri­vate in­cen­tive, and ad­vo­cated a con­ser­va­tive mone­tary and fis­cal pol­icy em­pha­sis­ing a rel­a­tively small plan, open­ness to foreign trade and in­vest­ment, and reliance on over­seas as­sis­tance. Foreign aid was set at one half of pub­lic sec­tor in­vest­ment.

No­bel economist W. Arthur Lewis has sug­gested that the main weak­nesses of the 1962-68 plan was in­com­plete fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies and in­ad­e­quate eval­u­a­tion of projects, ac­com­pa­nied by mea­gre pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion, fol­lowed by ex­ces­sive po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion in eco­nomic de­ci­sions. More­over, in­suf­fi­cient at­ten­tion was paid to the small in­dige­nous sec­tor, and the ma­chin­ery for im­ple­ment­ing de­vel­op­ments in the pub­lic sec­tor was un­sat­is­fac­tory.

The anal­ogy of colo­nial re­forms of the pub­lic ser­vice is to give in­sight to the rel­e­vance of the on­go­ing strategic re­form process to re­po­si­tion the Fed­eral Civil Ser­vice, mak­ing it more ef­fec­tive, ef­fi­cient, and pro­duc­tive and ca­pac­ity build­ing ori­ented in all de­part­ments.

Talk­ing about ca­pac­ity build­ing and train­ings, the de­vel­op­ment part­ners on this ini­tia­tive have com­menced ef­fec­tive syn­ergy with the Project Man­age­ment Teams in the re­form agenda.

How­ever, the Head of Civil Ser­vice of the Fed­er­a­tion (HOS), Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, had ro­bust en­gage­ments and con­sul­ta­tion with mul­ti­lat­eral and de­vel­op­ment agen­cies to aid the Project Man­age­ment Teams (PMTs) to­wards im­ple­ment­ing the 2017-2020 Fed­eral Civil Ser­vice Strat­egy and Im­plan­ta­tion Plan (FCSSIP).

She has main­tained this po­si­tion in all in­ter­faces with stake­hold­ers at all strata. The con­ver­sa­tion is that the present ad­min­is­tra­tion is de­sirous and work­ing so hard to change the method­ol­ogy and the man­ner gov­ern­ment busi­ness is con­ducted.

Only a few days back, high level teams of de­vel­op­ment part­ners had en­gage­ments with the Head of Ser­vice in Abuja, to review the lev­els of col­lab­o­ra­tion, the im­pact so far and the way to go in pro­vid­ing a mod­est con­tent of the re­forms, look­ing at 2020 dateline, barely two years away.

There are eight PMTs that were con­sti­tuted af­ter the Fed­eral Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil (FEC) rat­i­fied the pub­lic ser­vice re­form process strat­egy plan last year.

The HOS said PMTs and de­vel­op­ment part­ners are to set up dis­cus­sions on the var­i­ous plans to­wards the suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of the eight pri­or­ity ini­tia­tives of the strat­egy.

An es­ti­mated 25,000 civil ser­vants will be trained through re­vamped core mod­ules and 200 fu­ture lead­ers cul­ti­vated through the Lead­er­ship En­hance­ment and De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (LEAD-P), among oth­ers.

Oyo-Ita ex­pressed op­ti­mism that the present re­form will be suc­cess­ful be­cause of its fea­tures which in­clude high im­pact pri­ori­ti­sa­tion on ini­tia­tives; speci­ficity with ac­tion­able and de­tailed im­ple­men­ta­tion plan, clear gover­nance to drive re­forms, part­ner­ship for re­sources to sup­port im­ple­men­ta­tion and change man­age­ment as well as com­mu­ni­ca­tion plan.

Ap­par­ently, there is a clear-cut stance on the re­form process, con­trary to pre­vi­ous at­tempts made so far be­gin­ning from the colo­nial ad­min­is­tra­tion, which in its var­i­ous ap­proaches could not make its de­sired im­pact in chang­ing and im­prov­ing on the na­tional eco­nomic plan of gov­ern­ment.

It is there­fore as­sur­ing to see the num­ber of de­vel­op­ment part­ners par­tic­i­pat­ing in the re­form process which is tar­geted at ad­dress­ing ev­ery mis­ad­ven­ture of the civil ser­vice in the past.

The head­ship of the Of­fice of the Head of Civil Ser­vice of the Fed­er­a­tion has taken dogged steps to unify the work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween the civil ser­vants and politi­cians for the in­ter­est of a pro­gres­sive and eco­nom­i­cally vi­able state Nige­ria.

Con­fer­ences and re­treats were held in the past to rub minds with fed­eral per­ma­nent sec­re­taries on how to re­late with po­lit­i­cal heads in their var­i­ous Min­istries, De­part­ments and Agen­cies (MDAs).

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