MILITARY CAUSED ROT IN CIVIL SERVICE - EKWUEME, ASIODU
The former vice president Alex Ekwueme and former super permanent secretary, Chief Philip Asiodu yesterday attributed the pervasive rot in the nation's civil service to the military rule in Nigeria.
Ekwueme and Asiodu, who were chairman and guest lecturer at the Mohammed Lawal Uwais public service award organised by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), both recalled that before the advent of military rule, Nigeria had public service leaders that were a pride to the nation anywhere in the world, because they were not wealthy but comfortable due to reasonable job security, good remuneration and low level of corruption.
According to Ekwueme, ''two events led to poor quality of public service which included the creation of 12 states in 1966 that gave rise to proliferation of permanent secretaries and directors. This led to the promotion of some civil servants to position beyond their capacity to contend with.
''Secondly, the purge in the civil service by General Murtala Mohammed in 1975 that led to the sacking of over 10,000 public servants brought in the feeling of insecurity of job amongst the civil servants in Nigeria. The civil servants were no longer sure when they could be sacked and therefore had to look for alternatives to save for the rainy days. This was what introduced corruption into the civil service that is now set to destroy the country in entirety.'
On his part, Asiodu said that unlike the creation of the 12 states in 1967 which was a strategic imperative to contain the Biafran secession attempt, the 1975 division of the country into 19 states was just meant to satisfy the desire of some people for sharing the national cake rather than baking it.
''The new administration abandoned the implementation of the 1975-1980 development plan which had great promise of creating the basis for economic diversification and industrialization,' he said. 'Some very significant new projects were embarked upon while some properly-planned projects were aborted or not started. More destructively, the discipline of planning was abandoned''
Asiodu also seized the opportunity to advise President Goodluck Jonathan to give effective and sustained publicity to his transformation agenda.
''I am sorry to observe that the vast majority of Nigerians are not aware of the transformation agenda, its contents and what it means for them now and in future.
''I am also not sure how well the civil servants and the public service in general and even the legislators know the details of the transformation agenda . It is very necessary for the government to give effective and sustained publicity to elicit the 'buy-in' of the general citizenry,'' he said.
Asiodu further called on Jonathan to take cue from the late Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa by leading the nation to adopt and live with more realistic national remuneration scales for all those paid from the public purse.
''We must recall the example of Balewa, the regional premiers and all the ministers who in 1962 at the launching of the 1962-68 national plan took 10% cut in their salaries to signal the need for national savings to help finance the plan. That measure brought the salary of a federal minister below that of a federal permanent secretary,' he remarked.
The renowned technocrat deplored the state of the national economy which he blamed on poor governance and greed of the political class, saying it was criminal for a national lawmaker in Nigeria to be going home with as much as N200million per year in the prevailing poverty situation confronting the nation.
To bring the economy back on the right track, he canvassed that the cost of governance must be drastically reduced at all levels in the interest of the poverty stricken generality of Nigerians.