Imperative Of Manpower Development
Ebunlomo Taiyese Okuwa, an Information Officer in the Ogun State Ministry of Information & Strategy, Oke-Mosan Abeokuta, wrote this piece
The civil service refers to a sector of government that comprises workers that are employed on professional merit rather than appointment or election, with tenure that exceeds transitions of political leadership. Since Nigeria’s independence, the civil service has continued to be the largest workforce, serving as the engine room of government at both the federal, state, and local levels. Its main function is to assist the existing political leadership in the formulation and implementation of policies that have direct impacts on the general public.
Despite this value-based institution’s fundamental tenets of professionalism, loyalty, competence, neutrality, and high moral rectitude, its recent history has revealed a smear on the positive image it held in the past. Today, outsiders have concluded that the civil service is replete with a lack of professionalism, corruption, and much misconduct. While this conclusion may be somewhat farfetched, especially from people who are not in the system, workers who gained employment in the system in recent years do not seem to sufficiently show that they have imbibed many of the principles and ethics of the service.
It is also believed that the bureaucratic nature of this “engine room” of government continues to hold it back from catching up with new trends, which sometimes make the private sector a lot more productive. The truth is that the bureaucracy of the civil service was deliberately instituted to make policy formulation and implementation thorough, robust, and free of costly errors. This does not mean that the system lacks imperfections, many of which affect the quality of service delivery from the workforce. Lack of commitment and diligence to duty on the part of many young officers in recent years is one of such imperfections.
Two major reasons can be attributed as responsible for this reality. First, the “Service” is saturated with too many death weights, with the government having much more hands than it needs to perform its responsibilities. This is a problem borne out of the leadership’s compulsion to reduce the unemployment burden that has continued to grow every year. While the youths employed directly or indirectly in the mainstream civil service are no longer likely to cause problems for society, they end up adding up unneeded weight to the workforce.
Another reason for low commitment in the civil service is the fact that most graduates see a career in this sector as one that hardly promotes visions, dreams, and noble aspirations. As a consequence, those who accept employment into the service often do so half-heartedly, quietly working towards either taking offers from the private sector or travelling out of the country. This grossly affects the quality of their service delivery and contributes to a high turnover rate. The overall effects on the citizenry are huge one.
In order to reverse this trend, which is obtainable in Ogun State just like other states of the country, there is need to reform the recruitment processes into the civil service. While it is important for vacancies to be filled as and when due, the government must take time to ensure that the candidates employed are not only qualified but also ready to be of service to its employer.
Also, it goes without saying that this career path is one that is founded on service rather than a quest for riches. Anyone who takes the service as “a tentative job” while secretly looking for a more lucrative offer will hardly show commitment. This is ultimately to the disadvantage of government as it must cough out its resources to pay salaries and other entitlement for its workers all the same.
The implication of this is for the Civil Service Commission to make the entry process into the system a lot more rigorous than it was in the past. With its role analogous to that of the human resources department of private organizations, this agency is constituted by legislature to oversee the hiring and promotions of civil servants. It is however saddled with regulating the working conditions of these workers as well as promoting the values of the public service. In order words, getting the best hands to serve the people and ensuring that these people are sufficiently motivated begins with the Commission.
Given that there is presently a lot of workers who have spent a few of years in the Service but fall short of expectations, the Civil Service Commission needs to collaborate with the Bureau of Establishments and Training to focus on manpower development. On the surface, this looks at improving the effectiveness of workers. But, it comes with a more long term impact. Through a robust manpower development plan, the essence of being a career civil servant and the prestige that comes with it can be wired into their consciousness of young officers.
Reforms in the civil service, particularly in the area of operations, are equally of importance. Young officers need to have a sense of belonging right from the start of their career. Of course, the nature of the system is one of rigid hierarchy and top-to-bottom. However, top managements of Ministries, Departments and Agencies should begin to welcome innovative ideas from junior officers which will contribute to overall service delivery to the people. Also, this will lead to a reduction of turnover rate.
Already in place is the Public Service Transformation Office in Ogun State, with a mandate to facilitate the transformation of the Ogun State Public Service to perform effectively and efficiently for sustained improvement in service delivery to the citizens through technically competent and motivated staff using modern technology and in collaboration with stakeholders. This reform agency since its establishment has continued to work with MDAs to increase efficiency by helping them to determine mandate overlaps and instilling a paradigm shift in the mindset of officers.
In addition, the agency has identified fifty-two change agents across all MDAs and built their capacity on the need for reform with understanding that they would continue to champion reform in their respective spaces. The agency has also facilitated relevant capacity building opportunities for public servant, with special focus on the change of their mindsets towards service delivery. It is advisable that the PSTO be fully involved in the orientation programmes organized for newly-employed officers while also ensuring that they are aware of what they signed up for.
There is no gainsaying the necessity of manpower development for workers across the country. The results might be evident on the long run. But, its impact on the commitment and efficient of young officers could be instant. Sustained collaborations among the Civil Service Commission, the Bureau of Establishment and Training, and the PSTO in this regard will put Ogun State Civil Service on the right path, while also encouraging young officer to see the career as respectable and worthy of full commitment.
Okuwa can be reached via; 07066545954 or 08052125135.