By Akinwale Adegbola
I read with enthusiasm the speech of President Goodluck Jonathan at the 60th anniversary of federal public service, especially on staff matters. What caught my fancy was the president’s plea to the conscience of public servant to be partners with him in his quest for a new Nigeria.
In his address, the president solicited the unflinching support of workers in transforming Nigeria thereby fulfilling his pledge of breath of fresh air to all Nigerians. The President further passionately implored civil servants in the country to throw their weight behind the Federal Government in its efforts to put an end to indiscipline, corruption and other social vices responsible for the nation’s under-development and other predicaments.
This is needed more than ever because, In modern times, of all acts of civilized society, perhaps, governance is one of the most difficult tasks, as it deals with issues – political, economic or social, that directly affect public life of human beings, who are full of psychological and socioeconomic complexes and prone to unpredictable behaviour. Good governance is therefore the foundation stone to build a forward- looking society.
It is interesting to note that there cannot be good governance without a robust, disciplined and issue focused bureaucracy who truly drives the engine of administration. From the least person in the service to the super bureaucrats at the top of the ladder, they have the same and equal sense of motivation. And it is commendable that the administration has openly acknowledged the unalloyed importance of its bureaucracy at this crucial time.
Let me quickly remind us that the ultimate aim of governance is to help the common man live a peaceful, safe and secure life. Today, this simple and powerful truth is too often forgotten. Common-men themselves have started demanding, with persisting insistence and great intensity of agitation for better standard of living, better housing, better education and better medical facilities. The masses now wish themselves to be benefited as much as possible, from the resources of their nation. The desire of the public to go forward quickly and to establish a new economic order, in which common people could have better deal, gave rise to the concept of `Welfare State’ and Developmental Administration.
Suffice to say that the above is true, the public servants cannot but live better life especially as they are seen as the insiders. Truly they know the inflow and the outflow of government resources hence the need for the government to take care of their basic necessity of life.
For an average worker with the right mind-set, the need for an accommodation especially the one to be called his own cannot be seen as a luxury but the basic human need.
It is obvious that previously before the monetization exercise by the PDP administration, the public servants did not give much attention to having their own homes because they have houses provided for them by the Federal Government where they have the privilege of staying in such accommodation for as long as they are in the public service until they finally retire. But with the monetization exercise, there are no more houses that belong to Federal Government to allocate to its staff having sold off the houses to the occupants. So the Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board has now become a priority for the public servants who trooped in to ensure that they are considered in the social welfare programme of the Federal Government so that they can own their houses (Homes).
President Jonathan known to be a smart politician must make prompt policy pronouncements intended to benefit the public servants in mortgage refinancing initiatives and capture the interest of public servants who are already on the waiting list of the federal staff housing loans scheme.
To ensure that Nigeria meets its housing target, government will have to ensure that the Federal staff who have completed the necessary documentation to access the housing loans are considered as beneficiaries of the mortgage refinance scheme. This will confirm the saying that those who sleep under the mangoes tree should be considered when the fruits are ready.
Let me also remind the government as the largest employers of labour that the weight of the socioeconomic challenges is on the public servant. Aside from members of the immediate family of an average government worker there are others who are unemployed who are also attached to the civil servant and traditionally regarded as family members.
So to address the menace of corruption and stem the tide of moral decadence the welfare of federal staff should be dear to the heart of government especially housing for staff.
It is possible and government is aware that apart from the punitive measure to combat corruption one of the precautionary measure that works is to discourage corruption by lifting the hope of an average worker through adequate provision of social welfare which will boost the sense of service, a spirit of dedication, a feeling of involvement and a will to sacrifice for the public welfare. Goodluck to Nigerian workers.
Akinwale Adegbola is the Head, Press & Public Relations,
Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board