By Uche Bibilari
The Federal Civil Service Commission recently marked its 60th anniversary with the theme: “Civil Service Core Values: The Sine Qua Non for National Development.’’
The Federal Civil Service Commission, the `entry into’ and `exit out’ of the service came into existence on April 1, 1954 under the provisions of Section 174 of the Nigeria Order-in-Council of 1954.
It has the mandate to employ, promote and discipline civil servants.
President Jonathan, who spoke at the celebration, called on public servants to rededicate themselves to the service of the nation by becoming agents of change and models of unity.
He said that public servants should uphold love for humanity in the discharge of their duties.
“We must ensure that the civil service goes beyond its traditional roles and optimally becomes active agent of change and good governance,” he said.
Jonathan said that over the years, the commission had assisted in policy formulation, supported implementation of policies, provided continuity in government and also served as model of unity, integrity and patriotism.
“The commission is a large instrument in furthering merit and due process in the nation’s public personnel management.
“Whenever our country is moving in the right direction, the role of the civil service must be acknowledged, if things are not working as expected, the service must look inward on how best to step out,” Jonathan said.
On his part, Vice President Namadi Sambo called on public servants to be focused and responsible in the discharge of their duties.
According to him, civil servants should be able to carry out their duties effectively in the area of policy formation and implementation, and also advise the government on budget preparation and implementation.
Alhaji Bukar Aji, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HOCSF), said that as part of the reforms going on in the service, 1,050 civil servants that are in the service illegally have been identified.
He said that they were identified through the screening done by Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), adding that they would soon be retired from the service.
“Through the IPPIS, we are able to screen those who are supposed to have retired long time ago and they will leave the service soon,’’ he said.
Mrs. Joan Ayo, the Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, who spoke said that the commission employed 8,541 persons from 2011 to date.
The chairman explained that the civil service had contributed a lot to the growth and unity of the country.
“If not for the public service, Nigeria would have broken up many years back; it was the public officers that held Nigeria together at a time when we did not anticipate the civil war,” she said.
Ayo said that the commission had remained consistent in its activities; focused attention on reorientation of workers and strict adherence to rules and regulations.
“We want to ensure efficient civil servants that are patriotic, highly cultured and committed to the sustainable development of Nigeria.’’
She said that `meritocracy’ was the key factor in recruiting workers into the service, adding that the commission did not tolerate any form of political interference or interest.
“We ensure that only the best from every state is chosen and we also consider gender balance; the commission does not create vacancies, rather we fill vacancies declared by Ministries, Departments and Agencies through the Head of Service.
“Anybody who has a job with the public service must be politically neutral and this encourages impartiality in the service,” Ayo said.
Malam Adamu Fika, former Head of Civil Service of the Federation, said there was need to reposition the public service to conform to the norms and ethics of the founding fathers of the country.
Fika said that the repositioning could only be achieved by restoring a merit based civil service devoid of corruption, patronage, inefficiency and impartiality.
“It has been observed that the absolute dearth of merit and independence in the public service are the catalysts of the collapse of national institutions at all levels.
“Therefore, for Nigeria to take its rightful place in the comity of nations and to compete favourable in this global age, we need to revive, reorient and adjust our public service; more importantly, to have it protected from political influence and interference.’’
According to him, there is need for attitudinal change in the running of the country’s public affairs.
“In order for us to begin the process of change, the future of this nation must be entrusted, as it was in the past, into the hands of selfless people-politicians and civil servants.
“Those who will lead by example in word and deed and through self-sacrifice; those who will always exhibit leadership qualities in the discharge of public responsibilities and purely for public good,’’ he said.
However, notwithstanding all the reforms in the service, civil servants still lament over poor housing, salary and lack of uniformity in the service.
Mr. Peter Adebayo, a civil servant, complained of disparity in the salary structure in the civil service.
“There is a big disparity in salary structure of civil servants, for instance our colleagues in NNPC, CBN and other organisations get more than us in some MDAs,” he said.
Adebayo said that civil servants have contributed immensely to the growth and development of the country, but many have nothing to show for their hard work, patriotism and commitment.
Stakeholders say that the Federal Civil Service has come of age, but want the government to institute an equitable and non discriminatory salary regime.