I like on behalf of the Nigerian Civil Service Corps, to express deep appreciation to the Executive Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, for his continued support for the Civil Service, a gesture that is evidenced reviews, the celebration of our icon, Chief Theophilus Akinyele, when he passed away, this most symbolic conference event of Public Service Productivity and Merit Day 2021, and many more. I also warmly celebrate the Oyo State Civil Service through my sister and colleague, the Chief of Service, Mrs. Amidat Agboola. It is remarkable that you have given enough priority to the celebration of the Productivity and Merit Award to organize a flagship event to celebrate it. And you went the extra mile to invite as a guest speaker a remarkable but silent artist, a professor of political science and my dear colleague from the National Institute for Political and Strategic Studies whose brilliant contributions to political science research speak for themselves.
It is therefore with great pleasure that I welcome Professor Fatai Aremu to Agodi, Ibadan, the headquarters of the prestigious pioneering civil service in Nigeria, launched by the legendary chef Simeon Adebo. I am confident that our guest speaker will certainly do justice to our thinking at this event. I certainly won’t get ahead of our guest speaker one bit, even though today’s lecture topic is one in which I have a seminal keen interest. My substantive and brief reflection would instead be on the importance of merit and productivity Public Service Awards.
Suffice it to say at this point that the choice of the notions of “partisan politics and professionalism” as variables in today’s topic of reflection is highly commendable. This speaks to the strong determination of the Makinde administration to make rewarding excellence and performance of public servants a key priority.
Unquestionably, the meritocratic public service that pioneers such as Chief Adebo built has been undermined and distorted by a range of issues, including diversity management practices under the guise of federal character politics, the politicization of governance civil service, nepotism and deep-seated bureaucratic corruption. With such a genuine platform as this annual Seminar on Productivity and Merit, the Public Service has an important opportunity to continue to reflect, as a basis for action, on the founding principles and core values of our profession.
Through such pragmatic, problem-solving reflections, we should be able to articulate programs of sustained and systematic culture change to reinvent the philosophical underpinnings of our vocation and calling. This is, of course, highly desirable and essential as we navigate and move from the Information and Knowledge Age into the emerging era of the management-disrupting Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Hence the need to continue to recall to memory the attributes of public service values that made the Adebo generation the glorious era of Nigerian public service, including: Firstly, an incorruptible public service commission that has facilitated the control of the profession by signaling merit and prohibiting the entry of charlatans and mediocre civil service. Second, the resilient organization and internal management control mechanism of the method which enabled institution-wide cash control supported by a competency-based human resource practice and salary structure and working conditions. competitive services.
Third, the synergy of city and dress that enabled the engagement and collaboration of civil service, academics and other professions as the basis for harnessing national intellectual capital to build political intelligence and leadership evidence-based politics, and finally, a strong legacy of political neutrality that has insulated Chief Adebo and the service core from partisan politics, thus ensuring unreserved loyalty to any government in power. This is the secret of the global recognition of the Awolowo-Adebo model of governance that has worked infrastructural wonders in the western region.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have no hesitation in emphasizing that meritocracy and service excellence, which require re-professionalization to train a new generation of bureaucrats for Nigeria, are essential for the future of the profession of public administration in the knowledge age. . This, especially as we enter the potentially managerially disruptive Fourth Industrial Revolution that will surely reshape our profession beyond the new normal threshold to which the Covid-19 pandemic had brought it.
Beyond that, and given the speed at which our country is moving out of and back into economic recession due to the growing global shrinkage of the fossil oil market, national debt levels, and strategic political misintelligence, we bureaucrats as political workers should be shrewd enough to see that unless sweeping steps of transformational bailout policy are taken in the next 18 months or so, Nigeria could slide irretrievably into deep bankruptcy.
And despite unions’ fiery protective commitment to defending the interests of the public sector workforce as the momentum unfolds, Nigeria faces the onerous cost of the governance trap that continues to drain scarce resources of the nation in institutional and structural redundancies. And for me, the implementation of the Steve Oronsaye report will not be enough to stem the impending crisis. Therefore, and beyond the recommendations of Steve Oronsaye’s report, governments at different levels of our fledgling federation will be required to undertake a profound unbundling of the structure of national spending through rigorous auditing, restructuring the of investment and operation, and thus free up resources for genuine financing of development. This will involve the implementation of a national productivity paradigm shift which must be based on:
a national waste reduction strategy, a salary structure indexed to productivity, the setting of productivity targets for MDAs within the framework of long-term sectoral productivity plans, the reshaping of public-private partnerships by accelerating along of its three-level maturity curve and a new national management of practical projects with reprofiled maintenance protocols, etc. It is clear that the 36+1 bureaucratic cost centers resulting from redundancies created by our over-centralized unitary federal system will continue to fragment development and policy efforts making political restructuring a prerequisite for Nigeria. Economic prosperity. It is within a restructured federation that the nation will be able to leverage the comparative advantages of sub-nationals as a source of sustainable development, while the cost of governance is automatically reduced to fund genuine development programs and projects. In closing, and with great pride in being myself a recipient of the National Order of Merit for Productivity, allow me to end my remarks by warmly congratulating our proud recipients whose celebration is the reason we are here today. And to think that you have all received a badge of honor that has propelled you to the rank of role models, mentors and agents of change. It is therefore immediately incumbent upon you to champion the values held dear to the public service and to live faithfully, in spirit and in truth, to their principles.
The daunting task of protecting and preserving the hallmark public service that the Adebos of this world have worked to build, therefore, rests on your shoulders. My prayer is that you will not fail in public service, Oyo State and Nigeria. Congratulations, God bless you and thank you all for your kind attention.
- Olaopa, a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, spoke at the Oyo State Productivity and Merit Conference.