Crisis Management In The Public Sector

Project and Seminar material for Public Administration

Crisis Management In The Public Sector


From independence (1960) till date the Nigeria society has been under-going rapid transition with the unavailable and the unusual step by step transformation process that affect all social systems of the Nigerian society. The public sector organization being deliberately and hurriedly reformed to avoid the pit falls of the past. Instantly, erratic decisions are being made, new programme established and the old ones re-established with new strategies in an effort to achieve a new social order.

In achieving this social order a number of reforms are introduced into the public sector organizations and these (reforms) tends to be prone to a form of organizational crisis or another. With regards to the Nigerian public sector these crisis arise out of situational uncertainties and inadequacies of an organization. These could be as a result of power tussles, inadequate funds, psychological disorientation of employees in an organization and its employers rejection of managements / authorities reforms. Any such crisis is capable of distorting the realization of organizations objectives.

An important step is ensuring success in the realization of these public sector organizations and to understand the dynamics of a particular crisis and implement appropriate remedies on conditions that the change motivators are genius and determined. We all know that the understanding of the dynamics of crisis is lacked in the public sector of Nigerian Economy. It is also true that our administrators in the public sector are always involved in the crisis management. In conclusion, we can see that there is no effective tool for crisis management in the Nigerian public sector.

For this singular reason the Enugu North Local Government (ENLG) was chosen to give a clear picture of public sector organization whose administrators have not been able to note that local government were created to act as an autonomous part of the central government in Nigeria.

In this study we have been able to identify few of the numerous crisis that could hit the ENLG and ranked them in order of probability of occurrence using that crisis with the highest probability in developing a crisis management more for use by organizations in the public sector of the Nigeria economy.

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

The Nigerian society is under-going a rapid transition in addition to the inevitable and unusually gradual transformation processes that affect all social systems, the institutions economic, political, legal etc. of the Nigerian society, are being deliberately and hurriedly reformed to avoid the pitfalls of the past new decision programes are established and new strategic adopted all in an effort to achieve a social order.

One of the on-going strategies to do this is the reform introduced into the public sector by the office of the chief of General Staff (CGS) making the local government an effective third tier of the government. Usually, such reforms tend to point to one form of organizational crisis or another crisis were refers to an usual situation the outcome of which is uncertain or capable of generating conflict. With regards to the Nigerian public sector, it arises out of the inherent disposition of the system to distort the political and administrative processes by its decisions or operations. It also arises from situational uncertainties and inadequacies of an organization.

There could be power tussle, inadequate funds or time to execute all envisaged projects. Psychological disorientation of the populace / employee and its rejection of the reform. There could be also either a lack of understanding of the full implication of established programmes or a deliberate clinging to politics established primarily to protect institutionalized class relations. Any such crisis is capable of distorting the achievement of the desired objectives of the public sector. Part of the process of ensuring success in the achievement of goals of these public sector organization is to understand the dynamics of such crisis and apply appropriate remedies, provided that thee change motivators are genuine and determined.

It is a known fact that the understanding of the dynamics of crisis is lacking in the public sector of the Nigerian economy it is equally true that the Chief Executive and administrators in the public sector are involved in the management of crisis rather than in crisis management. From the foregoing, it is seen that there is no effective tool for crisis management in the Nigerian public sector because of its large size. It is pertinent that an organization within this sector is used as a reference point in order to limit the wideness of this study. The Enugu North Local Government (ENLG) has been chosen for proper representation of the public sector organization in the economy.

In this thesis, we intend to identify a few crisis situation that could hit ENLG and through the research, rank them in the order of their probability of occurring. I will then use the crisis with the highest probability, to develop a crisis management tool for organizations within the public sector of the Nigerian economy.

1.1 Background of Study

The local’s government has been characterized by instability and discontinuity emanating from one crisis situation or the other. These crisis are often prompted by the activity of the federal government and other environmental factors which usually lead to complete dissolution and or take over of functions of the management group by government appointed administrators. In order words, the LG. of this country have always been subjected to the whims and caprices of the federal government. They were not allowed to make their own decisions as to contributing to the Nigerian economy or either way they give enough financial assistance (authority) to be accountable to the devise inherent is such local government.

The various government reforms are aimed at stabilizing and rationalizing local government organization or corporations. It is quite unfortunate however that the chosen implementation strategies seen to have resulted in unanticipated policy outcomes. As a matter of fact it is clear to all that the aims of establishing the local government in Nigeria which is to be an effective third tier of the government has not been realized. It is believed that this is mainly due to the inability of the local government to effectively manage the forms of crisis that afflicted it since their inception. It is against this background that crisis management in local government is being investigated.

Every crisis has four (4) main stages and allowing each crisis to pass through the four states has been the bare of effective local government in Nigeria.

The four stages of crisis include:

  1. Prodromal stage (early warning stage )
  2. Acute stage
  3. Chronic stages
  4. Resolution stages

Crisis management aim at avoiding the acute and chronic stages of crisis. A crisis is said to be effectively managed if it moves from prodromal to resolution stage we are aware that this has not been the case in the local government their crisis have been known to have gone through the four stages with inevitable consequences.

If we take a look at the second republic and early part of the aborted their republic (1988-1989) there were various crisis among which were:

  1. Financial crisis
  2. Power crisis
  3. Manpower crisis
  4. Political crisis

The entire above crisis, we unfortunately allowed to go through the four stages and this had their unpleasant effects on the local government in the country. For example, the Enugu North Local Government administration was engulfed by crisis during the year 1988 and 1989. this crisis went through the full cycle which cumulated in the intervention of both the state and federal government leading to the suspension of its popularly elected chairman.

Another example can be cited from the demonstration carried out by members of the National union of local government (NULGE) Enugu North local government branch on March 9th’94 protesting for the non-payment of salaries for 6 months.

Furthermore, the strike action carried out by the National Union of Teacher (NUT) calling for the collection of their annual subventions directly from the federal government and not from the local government because they believe that this cannot be effectively carried out by them. It can be seen that after about two (2) decades of its establishment the local government cannot manage available resources and avoid conflict or crisis from happening.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

It is quite unfortunate that going through literature very little work has been done on how best to handle crisis by scholars and practitioners. In view of these identified lapses, an inquiry into crisis management in the local government has become imperative. It is hoped that this inquiry would stimulate new dimension and direction for crisis management whose overall objective could be the search for an effective and efficient local government administration. In Nigeria, with specific focus on evolving new strategies for building a stable base for local government organization in the country.

1.3 Research Questions

The basic research questions for this work are:

  1. How can we change from crisis management to the management of crisis?
  2. How do employee or workers perceive crisis?
  3. What factors influence management attitude to crisis?
  4. What role does the federal and state government play in local government crisis?

This study will attempt to provide appropriate answers / solution to these questions which are regarded as key variables in the local government administration in Nigeria, such answers is hoped would assist in providing insights into the kind of measures to be adopted to ensure effective and efficient crisis management in Nigeria.

1.4 Objective of Study

The objective of this research would include:

  1. To examine the existing methods of handling crisis in Enugu North Local government and ascertain how corporations are performing within the bonds of available manpower in the local government
  2. To attempt to appraise the existing and potential manpower for co-operations in local government administration with a view to explaining the extent of their involvement.

1.5 Significance of Study

The significance of this study work is aimed at developing an effective crisis management tools and thus creating a relatively stable environment becomes clear. In order to make reasonable progress towards achieving the purposes for their creation, the public sector organization requires a relatively stable environment and an effective crisis management tool which is what this study is all about.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The study touches on various forms of crisis that had characterized the public sector organizations in the country.

This using the Enugu North Local Government (ENLG). As a case study, an attempt is made to identify possible crisis that could effect the public sector organizations, their effect and probability of occurring based on the findings, the study attempts to develop crisis management for use in organizations in both public and private sectors.

It is sine-qua-non to mention were that in the course of the preliminary library research, it is discovered that very few up to date materials / literature on the public sector administration in the local government could be found. This is more so in finding documents that dealt with crisis management as it affects public corporation and local government.

1.7 Definition of Terms

In the course of this work: certain key concept were met along the line which may be interpreted differently for the purpose of this study therefore the following operational definitions are given to these concept thus:


This is an unusual situation in an organization or corporation the outcome of which is uncertain or capable of generating conflict.

Local Government

This is government at the local level exercised through a representative council, established by law to provide / exercise specific power within defined areas.

Public Sector

This is the part of a nations economy which is controlled mainly by the government

Crisis Management

Any measure that plans in advance for a crisis (or turning point), any measure that removes the risk and uncertainty from a given situation and thereby allows one to be more in from of crisis management.

Rural Development

The process of providing inhabitants of the rural area with basic infrastructure and amenities, which could enhance their standard of living.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary of Major Findings

(1) Changing from management of crisis to crisis management

According to the data obtained and analysed about 152 people or 61% of the respondent had not attended any course(s) and seminar(s) since joining the local government service. Also 140 or 56% of the respondents were of the view that the Enugu North Local government (ENLG) had not the requisite manpower for crisis management. These results agree with the widely held opinion that the local government and indeed the public sector of the Nigeria economy lacked the necessary manpower and tool for effective crisis management. We suffice to say therefore, that the public sector organization have not been able to change crisis management because they lack the necessary tools for effective crisis management.

(2) Factors that influenced management attitude to crisis

From our previous analysis, 76 or 38% of the total respondents were of the view that the various identified crisis in the Enugu North Local government (ENLG) were not properly handled, also 140-56% of them agreed that lack of adequate manpower had adverse effect on rate of crisis in the local government, these results above are in line with the present dispensation where authorities /management of the pubic sector organizations allowed crisis to erupt and then get involved in the management of crisis.

Furthermore, neglect of duties and saying away from responsibilities has caused management to ignore the warning of an impeding crisis.

(3) Perception of crisis by workers

About 200 or 81% of the respondents were aware of various crisis that hit the Enugu North Local Government (ENLG) since they joined the service. Also, 116 or 47% of the respondents agreed on the receipt of a warning signed for the NUT on an impending crisis and that the best line of action by the chief executive would be to dialogue with the NUT executives. The contradicts the held opinion that workers ordinarily have very poor perception moreso, if the dynamics of crisis were well understood appropriate remedies would have been taken ie, crisis management.

(4) The role of Federal and State Government in Public Sector Crisis

Going by the deduction from our case study of ENLG as proper representation of the public sector organizations, 141 or 57% of the respondents opined that the local government were not reasonably antonomous. This same number or percentage of respondents agreed that the degree of autonomy granted the local government adversely influenced the rate of crisis in the public sector. This agrees with the general view that both the Federal and State government are seriously involved in most of the problems of the public sector organization. How true this is, is another issue for discussion.

5.2 Conclusion

Results from our survey / research has shown government lacked the requisite manpower for crisis management hence they were all involved in the management of crisis.

Managers in the public sector went not sufficiently trained to understand the dynamics of crisis. This limited knowledge on the part of the management staff influence greatly their attitude towards crisis. The management / authorities also lacked a standard tool for crisis management.

The workers in the local government were very conscious of the adverse effects of crisis. People have erroneously believed that the local government required absolute autonomy. They have failed to realize that even the state government exercises that governments exercise over the local government.

I sincerely belied that this monitoring functions is absolutely necessary at all levels of public sector organizations otherwise anarchy will reign supreme in the country.

5.3 Recommendation

  1. In order to have effective crisis management in the public sector the organization within this sector being an evolving system should develop a comprehensive and systematic training programme for its members or staff. The conditions of service for workers in the public sector should be reviewed in order to attract and retain competent and qualified personnel.
  2. Secondly, this training programme for the management staff should lay emphasis on the meaning and importance of crisis management rather than the management of crisis.
  3. Thirdly, regular workshops and seminars should be organized for the members of staff of these organizations to ensure that the members imbibe the fact that the monitoring function of the government is a necessary aspect of effective public sector organization administration in the country.
  4. Finally, the development and introduction of a standard crisis management tool, for use in the public sector organizations should be perceived as being very necessary for effective crisis management in the country.

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