Assessment Of Civil Service Reforms In The Nigerian Public Sector
Successive governments in Nigeria have introduced reforms aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the civil service. Still, the service remains inefficient and incapable of reforming itself, let alone the rest of the economy. Corruption has become and endemic feature of public sector activities, with the oil booms and bust distorting the incentive structures of civil servants and other agents in the economy. To turn the tide will demand the creation of and efficiency-based incentive scheme that links reward to performance. Political interference in the daily operations of the civil service needs to be minimized if the confidence of the public service is to be restored. Wage incentives are also important in restoring morale. An underpaid civil service will not be able to perform its patriotic duty.
1.1 Background Of Study
The civil service has always been the tool available to Nigerian government for the implementation of developmental goals and objectives. It is seen as a pivot for growth of Nigerian economy. It is responsible for the creation of an appropriate and conducive environment in which the economy can perform optimally and it is this catalytic role of the public service that propelled government all over the world to search continuously for better ways to deliver their services (Amoako, 2003).
Civil Service is the instrument which government uses to regulate and manage all aspects of the society. Thus, the condition of a society is largely determined by the public service. Besides, it is from this government bureaucracy that all the other institutions obtain various types of approval, license and permits which are critical to their existence and operation. Also, government allocations of resources pass through the bureaucracy to all other areas of the society directly and indirectly. Therefore, all other institutions perforce have to deal with the civil service at one point or the other in their existence and operations (Philips, 1990).
In many developing countries like Nigeria, the civil service is frequently too expensive and insufficiently productive; and civil servants, especially those in management positions get few incentives and poorly motivated (Nunberg., 1994). Many low income countries have taken important steps in first generation reforms-that is, based on restructuring and downsizing civil service. Yet, beyond a certain point, cutting cost by squeezing real wages becomes counterproductive as skilled staff members leave the civil service; those who remain becomes demoralized and absenteeism, moonlighting and corruption increase (Lienert, 1998). Overemphasis on cost-containment as an end in itself has by the way given civil service a bad name, maximizing resistant to reforms and ultimately nullifying the very savings from costcontainment itself (Schiavo-campo, 1998). To address these problems, countries have been attempting to lead second generation reforms aimed at revamping pay and promotion policies. Yet, the multiple objectives of first generation reforms can give rise to conflicts, and little progress has been reached in second generation reforms (Lienert, 1998).
As a major instrument for implementing government policies, the civil service in Nigeria is expected to be professionally competent, loyal and efficient. Nonetheless, it is now denounced for being corrupt, poorly trained and poorly attuned to the needs of the poor. Ironically, the civil service is expected to play the key role in managing and implementing reform programs in the country. This has led to a number of complex agency problems yet to be resolved. However, it is broadly acknowledged and Nigerian experience attest to this, that when the incentive structure in the civil service remain poor, its efficiency as well as ability to effect policy such as that directed towards reducing poverty will remain very low (Salisu, 2001).
The federal government initiated reforms aimed at repositioning the civil service for better efficiency and effectiveness. However, the factors affecting the efficiency of the Nigeria civil service, (Ajayi, 1998) has noted the following: over staffing and the closely related poor remuneration of employees in public service as the key factors.
Secondly, there are the issues of poor assessment of manpower needs and the use of wrong criteria to appraise staff performance. These two have led to poor recruitment procedures, inadequate training and ineffective supervision. There tends to be a lack of qualified technical support staff as opposed to the abundance of general staff. The failure to carry out periodic assessment of manpower needs of the various departments leads not only to uneconomic system of compensation but also to inadequate job description and poor physical working conditions. There has also been considerable political interference in the process of personnel administration, leading to improper delegation of power, ineffective supervision and corruption. The resulting apathy has in turn led to unauthorized and unreasonable absenteeism, lateness, idleness and notably, poor workmanship (Salisu, 2001).
Furthermore, the public service reflects the state of the nation and no nation has been able to advance beyond its public service. In 1994, the Ayida Panel, which was instituted to review past public service reforms in Nigeria with a view to proffering measures of further re-invigorating the service, identified the major ills of the service, which needed to be corrected to improve the dynamism and effectiveness of the civil service as follows:
- Politicization of the top hierarchy of the civil service
- Lack of financial accountability and probity
- Perpetual breakdown of discipline
- Virtual institutionalization of corruption at all levels and segments of the service.
- Disregard for rules and regulations
- Loss of direction
- General decline of effectiveness and efficiency (Adegoroye, 2005).
In other to address these ills, the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, after his inauguration as president of a democratic republic of Nigeria on May 29, 1999, unfolded his vision of an ideal civil service for Nigeria and by inference, an ideal public service with the following elements:
- A competent, professional, development-oriented, public spirited and customer-friendly civil service capable of responding effectively and speedily to the needs of the society;
- A civil service with the core values of political neutrality, impartiality, integrity, loyalty, transparency, professionalism and accountability;
- A civil service that is guided by equity where things are done in the right way based on extant rules and regulations but with room for distractions, which should be exercised in the public interest;
- Creation of suitable environment where civil servants are assured of protection and job security in the faithful discharge of their duties and responsibilities; · A competitively, well remunerated and innovative civil service (Adegoroye, 2005).
Interestingly, the need for reform, then, was driven by circumstance Which have immediate resonance; the significant changes in the civil service composition with a staggering (35%) thirty-five percent reduction in the permanent staff; a significant change in the approach to people management taken place with a new- staff -appraisal system linked to performance evaluation against predetermined objectives and targets (Ogwu, 2010).
The reform of the public service therefore became the ultimate strategy for repositioning the service for the realization of their vision as part of a multi-sectorial approach to promoting good governance, ensuring sustainable democracy and accelerated transformation. Various policy initiative and legal instruments have been put in place for the effectuation of the multi-sectorial reforms of the present administration, as encapsulated in the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, the medium term development strategy document of the administration. Two of the core components of the strategy relate to public service reforms and anti-corruption reforms through the inculcation of a culture of transparency and accountability (Adegoroye, 2005).
In spite of the gradual and systematic reforms and restructuring since May 29, 1999, after decades of military rule, the civil service is still considered stagnant and inefficient, and the attempts made in the past by panels had little effects. One is bond to wonder therefore, why so? Much the same question has been raised by Oxford professor Christopher Hood, commenting on what he calls the civil service reform syndrome:
We have seen this movie before-albeit with a slightly different plot line with a rash of our attempt to fix up the bureaucracy with the same pattern of hype from the center, selective filtering at the extremities and political attention deficit syndrome that works against any follow-through and continuity. It is the pattern we have seen with ideas
- Total quality management
- Red tape bonfires
- Citizen charter
- Better consultation
- Risk management
- Evidence-based policy
- Joined-up policy making
- Service delivery
Such initiatives come and go overlap and ignore each other, leaving behind tombstones of varying sizes and style.
Many organization are using the above foundations to establish a Policy based on quality. The Nigerian public sector enterprises cannot be an exception and that is what this study tends to investigate with regards to Power Holdings Company of Nigeria, Onitsha district.
Constant power supply is the hallmark of a development economy. Any nation whose energy is epileptic in supply prolongs her development and risk losing potential investors. Nigeria, a country of over (120) hundred and twenty million people has for the past (33) thirty-three years of establishment of the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) – agency empowered with the electricity generation, transmission and distribution, witnessed frequent and persistent outages (Okoro et al, 2011).
Presently, the federal government has embarked on a power sector reforms with the intention of improving the above unpalatable scenario, and in turn reduces the scope of monopoly control of the nations’ power industry.
Okoro.O.I ,P.Govender ,E.Chikuni, 2011) stated that, the call for power sector reforms in Nigeria is primarily as a result of inadequate electricity supply, incessant power outages, and low generating plant available and high technical and non-technical losses that characterized the Nigerian electricity industry. The federal government in 2000 adopted a holistic approach of restructuring the power sector and privatizing of business units unbounded into seven generation companies (Gen cos), one transmission company (Transys co)and eleven distribution companies (Dis cos). This arrangement is expected to encourage private sector investment particularly in generation and distribution. This will definitely break NEPA monopoly and pave way for the entry of independent power producers (IPPs). The structure has since come into effect in January 2004 into what is called the Power Holdings Company of Nigeria (PHCN). This structure is to be test-run for two years with down pruned management team at the head quarter, while the industrial managers of the unbundled segment are expected to enjoy some level of autonomy.
In the new arrangement, Transco will be government-owned and managed by System Operators (SO) and Transmission Operators (TO). The reform bill approved by the federal executive council (FEC) is intended to achieve five objectives:
- Unbundled NEPA
- Privatize the unbundle entities
- Establish a regulatory agency
- Establish a rural electrification agency and fund
- Establish power consumer assistance and fund
In November 2005, the Nigeria electricity regulatory commission (NERC) was Inaugurated, and charged with the responsibility of tariffs regulations and monitoring of the quality of service of the PHCN (Okoro.O.I, P.Govender, E.Chikuni, 2011).
Power sector reforms in a developing economy such as Nigeria poses great challenges not only to the government that initiated the program but also the populace who are the consumer of energy and to the new born PHCN which parades itself as better alternatives to the moribund NEPA
The historical poor performance of the power sector in Nigeria has been a significant barrier to private investment of the country. In 2005, the government of Nigeria enacted legislation intended to restructure fundamentally the Nigeria electrical power sector. The electrical power sector reform Act,2005 was designed to move the electricity sector in Nigeria from government controlled, heavily sub-seized system to privatized largely market based Endeavour. Implementing the 2005 reform Act has been challenging for the Nigeria government and largely seems to have stalled in recent years.
However, the process of implementing the 2005 reform Act was revitalized when President Goodluck Jonathan established the presidential taskforce on power and published a roadmap for power sector reforms in August 2010, potentially opening the door to significant private investment in the Nigerian power sector (Firm publication, 2011).
1.2 Statement Of Problem
The Nigerian civil service has been oversized and poorly remunerated resulting in poor service delivery. Rapid public sector recruitment under military administrations had resulted in an oversized and under skilled workforce in which employees often did not have the appropriate technical skills needed for their assignments. For example, about 70 percent of workers in the ministry of finance were low-level staff clerks, cleaners and administrative staffs with a secondary school education or equivalent, 13 percent were university graduates and only 8 percent had degrees related to economics or accounting. More broadly, the government estimated that about 70 percent of federal civil servants had a high school diploma or lower with less than 5 percent possessing modern computer skill.
Civil servants generally received low pay and several fringe benefits such as free housing, free vehicles and various other allowances that often led to waste and misuse of government resource. Weak management and oversight also meant that there were problems with ghost workers on the government pay roll; while personnel and pension registers often were unreliable. Moreover, a weak incentive structure in a civil service, which did not foster good performance, resulted in a weak work ethic and poor service delivery by many government ministries, often characterized by hidden or outright corrupt behavior on the part of many civil servants.
Reforms were therefore needed to re-professionalized the civil service and increase its focus on service delivery. And the impact which the implementation of these reforms had created in the Nigerians economy is called for.
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