By Jamila Musa
The public service anywhere is the key institution that guarantees the legitimacy of governments. The simple reason for this is that it is an amalgram of structures, processes and procedures that give a functional face to what is called government.When we therefore say that a government is good, the implication is that the government has found an effective institutional means of transforming its policies into a success stories of seemless implementations that the citizens sees through the dogged determination that do not only bring the infrastructural development but better life in the midst of excruciating poverty. When a government is considered bad, the focus of attention is principally on its misgovernance, ineffectiveness public service system and most importantly on its institutional incapacities. The difference between good and bad governments in any context of state politics depends therefore,significantly on the status and operational capacities of the public service.
The public service as a system of bureaucratic procedure is founded on a proud administrative history that projects it as a vocation unlike any other.The bereaucracy is a call to service. A responsibility to serve the public in ways that are above livelihood and differed rewards over instant gratifications.To be a public servant is its own reward.It places a person on a pedestal of service that is essentially a calling.However,the vocation of the public service can be recognised only within the administrative parameters and possibilities of a context.
While the public servants in development clime would hold up their own as the key pillars of the success of government, ours in Nigeria is crippling.This informs the Minister of the FCT.calls for the urgent reforms of the public service in Nigeria as an imperative for development.The vocational honour of the public service in Nigeria is papered over by the zero sum nature of politics and its disenabling nepotism.Put in other words, bad politics has drained the self esteem of the public service,and has left it bereft of pride in itself.
The Minister is trite when he asserted that the public service in Nigeria is being challenged by a modernising responsibility that has not fully taken off.The first condition he stated in modernising the public service is to pump up its capacity in believing in itself and its capacity to transform itself and the state of which it is the single transformative institutional element in Nigeria. In Nigeria, as in many most public service across the globe,the self esteem of the system is derived from its professional competence.A public servant,the Minister averred,is known by his professional capacity to deliver the goods.
The Minister therefore says that to restore the public service in Nigeria requires a re-professionalisation strategy that will essentially enable us to reconceptualise who a public servant is.In administrative history,a public servant is defined by the sum of professional competences and skill sets that allow a person to function effectively within a system that is established to transform the policies of government into achievable outputs.
To arrive at the understanding about who a public servant is means a proper understanding of public service as a functional profession.The public service and the public servant are two side of the same coin.
Restoring the pride of the public service demand approaching its re-professionalisation from two dimensions.The Minister utilised the positive-negative structures of modernising imperatives to outline how the public service can move from its present debilitation to the zenith of self esteem it requires to step confidently into its responsibility as the core institutional agent in national development.
First,the negatives.One of the fundamental crippling factors that weigh heavily on the capacity readiness of the public service is the statist orientation of the government in Nigeria.This simply means that the government overwhelm the public service with too much politics.This is one of the enduring consequences of colonialism.The first issue is usually the redefination of what the state is,and how we can think its status vis-a-vis the public service.Simply put,the state has become too cumbersome for the effectiveness and efficiency required to provide democratic services delivery that would empower its citizens.Redefining the state simply means undermining its overbearing statism.
The call by the FCT Minister on the civil servants in the FCT to focus on delivering good quality service to members of the public and reminding them that as public servants they are ultimately accountable to the people has said it all about the duties and responsibilities of public servants.
There is no better time for the proper reform of the public service than now.Now our people yearn for more developments and the one they can see in its physicality.The Minister in his avowed determination to reform the public service set up a ministerial department that is responsible for the reform of the public service to a modern one which is in tune with providing targeted service to the public.This department is called the department of reform cordination and services improvements.The Minister Mallam Mohammed Musa Bello is an administrator who believes that it is incontestable that the primary function of government via its various ministry,department and agencies is to deliver efficiently and in all its ramifications quality services.The department headed by a season administrator who has a proven track record of reformations through the FCT call centre, Dr.Mrs Jumai Ahmadu is charged with the self examinations and evaluations of performances of public servants and institutions in the FCT.is a welcome development and a radical departure from the business as usual mantra of the yesteryears.