TheNigerianVoice Online Radio Center

Government Structure, Public Service Productivity And Efficiency In The Realization Of Political Mandate – The Challenge Of Governance

By Goke Adegoroye, PhD, OON
Listen to article

Full Text of the Paper Delivered on the Occasion of the Maiden Edition of the Annual Public Lecture of the Osun State Public Service, at Osogbo on 21 December, 2017

Introduction

Protocols

Let me commend the Head of the Civil Service of Osun State for his foresight in instituting this Annual Lecture Series of the Osun State Public Service as a key platform of his strategy to “develop the necessary synergy between the political office holders and the public servants to accomplish public goals; and to set new agenda in the Public Service for current officers in order to imbue in them a new vision for public service accomplishments”. I also thank him for the honour accorded me to be called upon to start it off and for our respected Chief Inaolaji Aboaba, the first Head of Service and Secretary to the Government of Osun State, as Guest of Honour and Chairman.

When Dr. Festus Gboyega Oyebade, the recently appointed Head of the Civil Service of Osun State approached me on telephone in company of my very good friend Dr Charles Akinola, a few weeks ago,to request that I give this maiden edition of what is now being instituted as the Annual Public Lecture of the Osun State Public Service, my mind immediately flashed back to the Cabinet Retreat at Offa in 2011. That was my first direct contact with the Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola,and his charming Deputy Mrs Laoye Tomori. Yes, there are perhaps too many assignments on my plate at the moment as the excuse that I needed to turn down the request but I also felt a sense of nostagia about the excitement that the Offa Retreat generated and the promises it held for the administration. In Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and his Deputy I witnessed an uncommon passion and energy that were being generated to drive their vision for Osun State. Obviously, the turn of events thereafter is reminescent of the challenges faced by most people in government. Besides, Dr Akinola is a friend that I cannot refuse. Not just that, I felt in the voice of the new HoS a sense of commitment and eagerness to rise to the challenge of his new assignment, arising from which ishis desire for the lecture to be delivered bya credible and experienced practitioner whose perception on the issue would give him the backbone for the direction that he thinks the service of Osun State should be going. I therefore had no option than to accept to give the Lecture.

My next challenge was to decide on the topic. Again, I recalled that at Offa on 9 November, 2011 I had presented 2 papers, namely:

  • Delivering on the Development Agenda of the Government of Osun State: The Bureaucracy Challenge; and
  • The Imperatives of Partnership and Collaboration within Government in Achieving Common Objectives: Anatomical & Physiological Parallels

In the first paper titled Delivering on the Development Agenda of the Government of Osun State: The Bureaucracy ChallengeI had stated categorically, among others, as follows:

  • that Public Service is the engine of government; and
  • that no State or nation can rise beyond the capacity of its public service
  • that the key issue is how to infuse the bureaucracy (the engine of Government) with the energy and commitment to help the Governor and his cabinet to achieve their political programmes as encapsulated in the Development Agenda within an electoral term”;
  • that “Governance issues are multi-disciplinary and cross sectoral, and implicitly therefore that the implementation strategy of the development agenda must be anchored on, not only bringing together various disciplines and expertise in one Ministry or agency but on the imperative of inter-ministerial/inter-agency consultation, collaboration and cooperation”;
  • thatthe first challenge is for the political appointees/caabinet members to readjust and shed their titular traditional toga as Custodians of the Ministries and to adorn their jackets as Task Team Leaders, Coordinators and Team Players, as the case may be, in tune with 21st century management approaches”;and
  • That the way forward lies in public servants striving to meet the expectations of Government and the Public, with Government also meeting the reciprocal expectations of Public Servants.

In the second paper titled The Imperatives of Partnership and Collaboration within Government in Achieving Common Objectives: Anatomical & Physiological Parallels, I had noted

  • that the human body is made up of as many as100 trillion cells, 206 bones, 600 muscles, 22 organs and 10 systems, and
  • that, isolated as individual body parts, organs or even systems, they are nothing
  • but that it is their full integration, and the assurance that the individual organs and systems are performing their respective functions in an optimal manner, that make the human body stand out as a strong and durable entity equipped to achieve its objectives.

The Offa Retreat was, to me, a watershed. It was where the new cabinet pledged their unalloyed commitment to a set of principles by way of an Offa Declaration which sought to, among others, i. Undertake to put the wellbeing of the Osun people at the center of the Development Agenda.

ii. Support and take ownership of all approved programmes, plans and initiatives that will lead

to the achievement of the Osun Development Agenda.

iii. Work in line with the Omoluabi values and ethos in all that we do.

iv. Reinvent the processes, procedures and systems of government to drive the execution of theDevelopment Agenda.

v. Provide the quality leadership that is required to motivate and direct the Ministries,

Departments and Agencies of government towards the fulfillment of the Agenda.

vi. Agree to mobilise, harness and deploy all resources at my disposal towards the fulfillment of

the Development Agenda.

vii. Consult, collaborate and cooperate with one another pursuant to the actualization of the OsunDevelopment Agenda.

In addition to the Offa Declaration, there was a Communique which recommended, among others, that:

The programmatic vehicles to actualise the development programmes, as articulated at the Retreat, covering Economic Growth, Gainful Employment, Food, Agriculture and Rural Enterprise, Health, Sports and Recreation, Water, Physical Infrastructure, Functional Education and Participatory and Accountable Governance shall be vigorously pursued by the political office holders and civil servants working harmoniously.

 There is need for a critical mass of stakeholders including the youth that should buy into theOsun Development Agendafor it to succeed.

Governance issues are multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral. Implicitly, the implementation strategy of the Development Agenda must be anchored on, not only bringing together various disciplines and expertise in one Ministry or agency, but on the imperative of inter- Ministerial/inter-agency consultation, collaboration and cooperation.

The adoption of an integrated system for implementing the Development Agenda with clearly defined roles and responsibilities of all MDAs is an imperative, while unnecessary duplication of roles must be avoided.

 The process of implementation of the Development Agenda must employ a programme management framework to which all MDA programmes and activities must align to deliver on the common vision. The MDAs are therefore expected to design sector specific strategies for meeting the goals.

 Benchmarks, time-bound targets and clear parameters for assessment must be set by each MDA with the corresponding time lines.

We need to identify the existing capacities, skills and resource gaps and the corresponding capacity building and strengthening needs among different stakeholders.

Public servants and political office holders are expected to demonstrate at all times globally cherished public service values namely: democratic values, professionalvalues,ethicalvalues, people values,as well as work in line with the ‘Omoluabi’ values and ethos of the Yoruba.

 We must perform a continuous assessment of the adequacy of the existing structures and processes. Identification of obstacles and limitations such as red tapes and bureaucratic bottlenecks as well as obsolescence and the required measures to eliminate them.

Government expenditure management must fully imbibe the imperatives of governance for public value. Therefore, the focus of expenditures will be on capital projects that would impact wealth and income of the citizens of the State.

 Henceforth, all revenue collections, including taxes, fees, and other charges are to be paid directly by the tax-payers to the designated banks

Political appointees and civil servants need to be constantly conscious of the complementary roles of their respective offices and the imperative of treating each other with the respect that their offices demand.

Strengthen communication skills of public servants to respond on time to public demands and strategically plan their interventions as well as employ all available forms of communication platforms especially ICT.

 There should be periodical retreats and feedbacks for performance accountability in order to ensure sustained and total commitment to progress and the achievement of the goals of the agenda.

 There is the need to consider the implications of the Agenda for regional integration by harnessing areas of possible cooperation, assessing avenues for realisingeconomies of scaleandexploring opportunities for synergy;

Consultation, Cooperation and collaboration are key to the success of the Development Agenda. We must build partnerships with civil society, private sector,international community and citizensin the management process, as well as in fiscal accountability and transparency mechanisms, as well as empower all sectors to engage effectively in public accountability.

I also recall that, shortly thereafter, we had the Osun State Public Service Transformation Programme. The goal of the Programme as articulated in the Aide Memoire presented on behalf of the Governor by Gbenga Adebusuyi in March 2012 under the title: “Embracing the New Paradigm for Competitiveness”was the promotion of productivity growth as the platform to drive economic growthunder 3 Core centers, namely: Principle of Meritocracy; Professionalism and Capacity Building. The Transformation Programme was to entail: (i) Effective Governance of the Civil Service, (ii) Organizational Efficiency and Effectivieness(iii) Staff Professionalization for Civil Service; (iv) Ethical and Accountable Work Force with a changed work culture; (v) Improved Competence (capacity building) of the Civil Servce; (vi) Improved Financial Management.

I further recall that a major product of the Transformation Programme was the overhaul of the top hierarchy of the Osun State Civil Service through what to date remains perhaps the most objective Screening of Officers for the Appointment of Perm Secs and a Head of the Civil Service ever carried out in the country.The confirmation that the new Head of the Civil Service was a product of that exercise as one of the Permanent Secretaries so appointed was indeed one of the main reasons why I had to accept to give this Lecture.

However, six to seven years on, where are we as public servants? How do we reconcile the hopes of 2011-2013 with the situation in the last 2 years whenOsun State public servants became an unenvied reference for uncultured public demonstrations and agitations for unpaid wages and pension?

In 2011 Offa Retreat Paper referenced above, I had quoted Emmanuel Nwachukwu,a UK based Business Consultant who said (The Punch, Friday 4 November, 2011) that “for well meaning Ministers (Commissioners) who want to effect change to the well-being of Nigerians (Osun State indigenes) they would by now have discovered that their first and biggest challenge is the Nigerian (Osun State) public service, a deeply corrupt and inefficient machinery of government characterized in the main by low productivity”.

It is easy for the uninitiated to wave aside that quotaion and say that it was a 2011 assessment, except that the general public has continued even in 2017 to deride Public servants as indolent, unproductive and corrupt. Unfortunately, in so many ways as public servants, wehave not been able to shake off this notion but have in fact inadvertently given credibility to this perception. Consider for example the average civil servants’ attitude to work, what time theychose to resume for work at their offices; what they do when staff buses to convey them to work either comes late or does not come at all; what they do when there is no electricity, despite the fact that the work in our hands require some level of urgency; Whenthey do get to work, how engaged they are at their respective desks and /or stations?How many of them even wait till closing time before they start streaming out of the Secretariat? What their attitude is to the filth that litter their office surrounding; their attitude to the office walls that are dirty and the various condemned furniture items, office equipment and tyres that are pilled up near the staircases and passages of their offices, awaiting audit before disposal;

In short, what is the level of our productivity and efficiency as public servants? and how effective are our efforts towards the realization of the political mandate of our principals and the development agenda of the administration? If the offices we work in are our businesses would we condone what we ourselves do in those offices? As workers, how many of us can beat our chests to say that we are we worthy of our wages?

Productivity and efficiency is always at the heart of the realization of the development agenda of any government. In Governance, the platform for discharging the processes and procedures that governance entails and from which the productivity and efficiency of the public service can be measured is Government structure. However, implementation of government developmental agenda is a function of the resources at the disposal of Government through budgetary appropriations; and as they always say in Yoruba: “enuofokii dunyanmuyanmu”. Allocating and efficiently managing not just the scarce resources and manpower at the disposal of Government but the contending forces of bureaucratic imperatives and political exigencies to meet compelling needs and priorities of the State is constantly the challenge of Governance. I believe that spending time to examine these issues will avail us the benefit of introspection to enable both the political and bureaucratic leaderships chart a new line of action in the ever-evolving strategies to achieve the Development Agenda of the State. Accordingly, the topic that I have chosen for this Lecture is: Government Structure, Productivity and Efficiency in the Realization of Political Mandate/Development Agenda – The Challenge of Governance

2. Some Terminological Clarifications

By way of definitions, Productivity – Productivity refers to out-put, capacity, work rate; a measure of the efficiency of production, being ratio of output to input in the processes and procedures that governance entails.

Efficiency is a measure of the extent to which input is utilized to achieve the intended result; It is the capacity to produce the specific outcome with minimum expense, time or effort; Efficiency is different from Effectiveness - As they say, Efficiency is doing things right” while “Effectiveness is getting things done” or, as in the more popular saying, Effectiveness is doing the right things” as effectiveness can be achieved through inefficient processes. By delivering an expected outcome on time implies effectiveness but the processes could have been inefficient as it might have entailed higher cost.

GovernmentStructureis the publicsectorframework of organizational order; It performs the dual purpose of support (holding aloft) the Government organ as well as providing the leverage platform for the multiplicity of actions that must occur in executing the mandate/agenda of the administration.

The terms Ministry, Department, Agency and Parastatals are key words in describing the structures of government across the world, from the United States of America to the United Kingdom, Sweden to India, Australia and New Zealand, where they convey specific and oftentimes different meanings depending on the country of choice. The challenge, however, is when in a specific country there is no demarcation as to what each term connotes, and they are used interchangeably and in error of what is conveyed. The most common of these errors in our country Nigeria is in the use of the acronym MDAs by public servants and the gradual institutionalization of this error, even at the highest level of Government. It is therefore important that we are clear in our minds about what we mean by these terms whenever we use any of them to describe Governmental structure, lest we run the risk of not only being misrepresented but of misrepresenting the view and further compounding the mix-up.

Ministry, also calledDepartment in US and UK, is Government organization headed by a Minister/Commissioner (appointed or elected in a democracy) charged with the responsibility of managing a specific and major sector of Government administration, and under which are other semi-autonomous entities over which the Minister/Commissioner has oversight responsibility.

Extra-Ministerial Department is a unit of government which function is independent of any ministerial oversight. In some cases, an extra-ministerial body performs a function that overlaps many ministries. In some other cases, their function may relate directly to certain aspects of the functions of the President that he or she wants to delegate to an identifiable structure, answerable to him directly without exposure to such checks and balances like congressional or parliamentary oversight. For instance, in some countries including Nigeria, the office of the Chief of Staff to the President /Governor and the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation - SGF/OSSG are extra-ministerial bodies which take part in cabinet meetings, manage budgets but are only answerable to the President, not Congress or Parliament.

A Commission is a special class of extra-ministerial department (emD) whose executive powers for decision making is a collective authority, as that authority is not vested in an individual but a group of people (often called Commissioners). In Nigeria, the major Commissions are established by the constitution, where they are listed as Executive Bodies and are independent of the control of the President.

Agency: A government or state agency, is a permanent organization in the machinery of government, established by legislation or by executive powers and distinct from a Ministry or Commission,that is responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions.

The meaning attached to the word “agency” varies from country to country: In India, for example, the Cabinet and Parliament Secretariat describes itself as a “nodal agency” for coordination among Ministries of the Government. Whereas in the United Kingdom as in Nigeria, agencies are answerable to Ministers, non-ministerial public bodies or the parliament. One country that has made effective use of agencies is Sweden. The Government agencies in Sweden are state controlled organizations who act independently to carry out the policies of the Swedish Government. The Government Ministries are relatively small and merely policy-making organizations, allowed to control agencies by policy decisions but not by direct orders. This means that while the agencies are subject to decisions made by the Government, Ministers is explicitly prohibited from interfering with the day-to-day operation in an agency or the outcome in individual cases.

Parastatal: A parastatal is an entity/organization owned or controlled wholly or partly by Government; Can be a Company (Corporation) or an Agency;

A Corporation is an agency of government wholly focused and run as a business. In many instances, it is also referred to as aState-Owned Enterprise (SOE)

MDAs: The term MDAsis not intended to mean Ministries, Departments and Agencies. This is because “MDAs” is an acronym for a group of principal/primary organs of government headed by high level (first tier) appointees of the President/Governor as chief executive officers. In the Nigerian setting,unlike the US or the UK,Departments are headed by Directors and operate under the direction of second tier appointees of the President/Governor,such as Permanent Secretaries, Executive Secretaries, Directors General and General Managers, who themselves are responsible to primary/first tier presidential/executive Governor appointees like Ministers/Commissioners, Secretary to the Government of the Federation/SSG, Head of the Civil Service and Chairmen of Commissions/Constitutional Bodies. Accordingly, MDAs cannot not stand for Ministries, Departments and Agencies but Ministries, extra-Ministerial Departments and Agencies.

3. Government Structure & Public Service Values

Constitutional Basis for Government Structure

Government structure does not emerge out of nowhere de novo. It is never a frivolous creation. The Constitution is what provides the basis for the creation of Structure for the Government of a nation-state, region or State and, by inference, the Ministry and all other component parts of such Governmental Structure, from extra-Ministerial Departments, to Parastatals, Agencies and Corporations including the intra-Departmental components of these entities.

The Constitution, in Chapter II Section 13-24 under Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy has outlined the critical issues of governance as:

  • People objectives based on the principles of democracy and social justice;
  • Political objectives of national integration, free mobility, inter-marriage and freedom of association across ethnic, linguistic and religious lines;
  • Social objectives of equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law; including ensuring suitable and adequate shelter; suitable and adequate food; reasonable national minimum wage; old age care; as well as opportunities of securing adequate means of livelihood and suitable employment;
  • Educational objectives especially the clause that “Government shall as and when practicable provide free, compulsory and universal primary education; free secondary education; free university education; and free adult literacy programme”;
  • Foreign policy objectives;
  • Environmental objectives;

Etcetc

I am sure that everyone here can figure out which Ministry/Ministries are responding to each of the above listed constitutional provisions under the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy.

By way of further elaboration, let us take a deeper look at the constitution to see how a Ministry like the Ministry of Finance has been able to carry so much weight in its responsibilities, to the envy of other cabinet members. The key provisions that confer legitimacy on what the Ministry of Finance is carrying out as its responsibilities are the constitutional provisions under Economic Objectives in Section 16 (1) a-d; (2) a-d; and (3) which state, among others, that:

“The State shall, within the context of the ideals and objectives for which provisions are made in this Constitution – (a) harness the resources of the nation and promote national prosperity and an efficient, dynamic and self-reliant economy;

(b) control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity; ……

(2) The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring –

(a) the promotion of a planned and balanced economic development;

(b) that the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good”…….

These provisions are what have empowered the Ministry of Finance at the federal level to compel a mega corporation like NNPC for which it has no oversight responsibility and super agencies like the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) etc to remit at constant intervals whatever they have collected on behalf of the federation to a dedicated account, from where they would be disbursed to meet the needs of the populace in line with the priority / agenda of government.The Structure to be operated by the Ministry,therefore, must be one that would enable it to perform these responsibilities in an effective and efficient manner.

Government Structure,whether at the federal or State level, must recognize the overarching role of the Constitution on the Legislature, the Executive and the Judicature which constitute the “three arms” of Government and the centrality of the Office of the Secretary to the Government, much in the manner that the Sun operates in our solar system. The central position that the OSGFor SSG occupies in the Structure of the federal or state government derives from the mandate of the office which is to “coordinate and monitor implementation of Government policies and programmes; and serve as think tank and technical backbone of the Presidency or Governor’s Office”

The term “Structure of Government” describes how the myriads of offices, agencies and ministries that government has put into operation have been arranged in a discernable pattern that clearly directs the flow of authority for the effective discharge of the executive powers of the president/governor towards efficient running of government.

The Structure of a Ministry, extra-Ministerial Department, Commission or Agency is a component of the Government Structure, in the same manner that the Structure of a Department is a component part of the structure of a Ministry. It follows therefore that,not only would the productivity and effectiveness of Government be a function of the component structures from Department level up to Ministry, the Office of the Secretary to the Government as the central organ for coordination and technical support is a critical determinant of productivity and effectiveness across the three arms of government, the three tiers of administration to local government, and at all levels of operation from Ministry to Departments and their component Units.

A Structure by itself does not run government; people have to be attached to the structure to make it work. When this is done, the structure becomes an organ, as in a Ministry, agency or commission.Manning level connotes how the a Government structure is peopled, to discharge its responsibility / mandate. Thepeople manning the structures of Government are the workforce in those government organizations or public entities, and they are called public servants.

As the work force in government structures the civil/public servants perform various roles, as:

  1. Implementer /executor of government decisions and policies
  2. Regulator/Enforcer of Guidelines and Standards
  3. Monitoring authority of projects
  4. Evaluator of processes & procedures
  5. Assessor / Collector of taxes & rates
  6. Approving authority of procedures; and
  7. Issuing authority of Permits and other authorizations

Accordingly, public servants are the “face of Governance”. Ministers&Commissioners are the face of Government.

Structure Implies Permanence Not Temporariness

Earlier in this paper, I tried to define Government Structure as the framework of organizational order, performing the dual purpose of supporting (holding aloft) the specific Government organ, and providing the leverage platform for the multiplicity of actions that must occur in executing the mandate/agenda of the administration.

There is therefore a sense of permanence that needs to be observed in designing or discussing the Government Structure. This is because the responsibilities that the mandates that Government tries to drive at Ministry or agency levels are not fickle but serious, requiring far-sighted vision and mission, as opposed to the mandate of ad-hoc Committees /Commissions. Using a habitation analogy for organizational structures, a tent meant for out-door camping may suffice for an ad-hoc committee sitting for 5 days. In comparison, the structure that would accommodate a Ministry or Agency would be a fort, like you would have in the military; the only difference being that the ammunitions are policies, programmesand projects as these are what are required to drive its sectoral mandate, in accordance with the political agenda of the sitting administration, and that every port in the structure is manned, not by soldiers but, by public servants whose responsibilities are to initiate and implement (or ensure the implementation of) those policies, programmes and projects.

The sense of permanence that I am talking about here is to confer strength, not absolute rigidity, and this is the rationale for the observance of Governmental structures as administrative rather than legal instruments, so that there is some room for minor modifications, as emerging situations may require from time to time. On the other hand, the mandate that the structure is expected to support or drive, are usually backed by legal provisions/enactment. In addition to permanence, a Ministerial Structure must elicit a natural flow in terms of communication, line of command and succession, and by inference institutional memory.

How,for example,did we fare in Osun State with the multiplicity of appointments of Commissioners and Special Advisers into ministerial portfolios between 2011 and 2015? What I observed was that the Governor wanted to satisfy the political expediency of appointing certain individuals representing identified political power blocks of the State and at the same time did not want to lose his strategic think tank base of highly qualified and experience professionals whose contributions had been the backbone of the vision he was pursuing in Government. And so, he ended up having a set of political appointees that were carrying the title of Commissioners and another set of political appointees designated as Special Advisers, each set with clearly defined responsibilities and targets. Indeed, my haunch was that he probably had more confidence in the Special Advisers than the Commissioners. He first challenge was how to create a structure that would respond to his intentions, and this challenge was very evident even at the Offa retreat. Civil servants were at sea as to how to relate to those designations. If I may ask, what bureaucratic support were eventually put in place for the discharge of these mandates; What was the line of command and/or communication? And in retrospect, what is the view of the Governor on this issue, now?

Every Government/Chief Executive of a State or nation is always faced with this kind of dilemma. At the federal level, Obasanjo faced it in 1999with the designations of Minister in relation to Minister of State; Special Adviser in relation to Senior Special Assistant. While we managed at the federal level not have a blow-out ramification of fragmented portfolios as that of Osun State described above, there was unfortunately in the last administration 2011-2015 the intrusion of the title Coordinating Minister for the Economy (CME) which also did not have the complement of the elements of bureaucratic support expected of a Government structure. As I stated in pp. 222-225 of the book Restoring Good Governance in NigeriaRGGN (2015), because there was no bureaucratic support for the title, the departure of the holder of the title took with it every knowledge and information about what the post entailed. As I concluded in the sub-chapter that discussed this issue in the book cited above, “Governance structures and official titles are not created to sway to egos or conform to the personality stature of an appointee but on the premise of the long-term vision that whoever occupies the post will be empowered to perform the functions assigned to the office. To do otherwise amounts to treating governance structures and official titles as garments to be cut to the size of every political appointee, when in reality it is the political appointees that should fit into governance structures and official titles, in the manner that a tenant would adjust his/her furniture to fit into a rented apartment, because that is what political appointees aretenants in official positions”.

Public Service Values

No matter the Structure on ground for the discharge of the mandate of a Ministry and to implement policies and programmes of an administration, in line with the political agenda of the ruling political party in a democracy, there is a certain set of principles that Government and the public expect public servants to observe

Public Service Values – Expectations of Government and the public

  • Democratic Values – helping the Ministers/Commissioners and political heads to, under the law, serve public interest;
  • Professional Values – serve with competence, excellence, efficiency, objectivity and impartiality;
  • Ethical Values – uphold, at all times, public trust and be responsive to the society; and
  • People Values – demonstrate respect, fairness and courtesy in dealing with the public and with fellow public servants

By the same token, public servants also expect Government, their employer, to reciprocally observe a certain set of principles.

Public Service Values – Reciprocal Expectations of Public Servants

  • Working Environment – that engenders confidence and encourages public servants to put in their best promptly and cheerfully;
  • Job Deployment – that enables the system to get the best from officers in terms of general deployment of creativity and analysis, public policy initiation, programme planning and project execution;
  • Career Development/Progression – that is motivating, inspiring, competitive and rejuvenating; and
  • Remuneration – that is adequate in terms of ensuring that public servants can live not below the level of cultural human dignity*.

*expectation of a Prado Jeep as Official Car and a Mansion in the choicest property location in the State amount to ostentation and not human dignity.

Thesetwin sets of principles, which incidentally are in quadruples, constitute what is called the “globally cherished Public Service Values”.

Whether at the level of the Executive Office of the Governor as the Center of Government or the level of a Ministry, agency or even a Department, for the Government structure to be effective in supporting public service productivity and efficiency and, by inference, the delivery of the political mandate, it must meet the reciprocal expectations of the public servants for Government, their employer.

4. Determinantsof Public Service Productivity and Efficiency

From my critical study of the Nigerian public service over the years, I have been able to identify 19 factors that impact Public Service Productivity and Efficiency. The factors are as follows:

  1. Uncontrolled “ministrialization”, “agencification” and “departmentalization” of issues, the attendant bloated over-head expenditureand ineffective span of control
  2. Inability/failure to leverage on available National and International network of bi-lateral and multilateral development partners and donor agencieslinkages as compelled by the mandate of the Ministry e.g. For a ministry like the Federal Ministry of Finance for instance, there are statutory meetings of -World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), African Development Bank (AfDB) and other donor/grant agencies etc that must be attended; there are national meetings of the federation accounts committee as well as several other meetings requiring high-level participation;
  3. Overloaded Manning Levelsand non-appreciation of the effectiveness of flat over hierarchical structure;
  4. Bloated and unrealistic Paraphernalia of office of political office holders and senior bureaucrats, in terms of an endless list of perquisites, spanning support staff, fleet of vehicles, working tools, energy source and office space layout; Political office holders parade a host of so-called support staff – Security Details, Confidential Secretary, Typists, Clerks, Messengers - and Drivers; a fleet of vehicles, computers, and a dedicated source of alternate electricity (notwithstanding the fact that the desk officers whose work are to feed what would require the attention of these political office holders have no wherewithal, either at work or at home, to carry out their assigned duties).
  5. The Office Space and layout; For a Minister/Commissioner, a Perm Sec or CEO of Government Agency, there is usually an Ante-Room, Secretary Room, Security Detail Room, the Main Office, Private Inner Room and a Private Conference Room! Office space provision and lay-out, down the line of Directorate level officers, do not foster supervision and mentoring; and are prone to various temptations of abuse for unethical activities/behaviours;

  1. Poor working relationship, muffled line of protocol and lack of respect between Ministerial Heads, Special Advisers and Agency heads and the imperative of effective coordination
  2. Inability to appoint top quality persons of impeccable integrity into official positions;
  3. Negative Managerial influence generated by the emergence of poor quality personnel in management positions due to the inability of elected leaders to make top quality appointments into those positions: how efficient are those that dedicated hard-working officers in ministries report to themselves? Are they able to inspire and add value to the submission of their subordinates? Oftentimes, hard-working and efficient civil servants are reeling under the yoke of uninspiring and incompetent superiors”.
  4. How courageous and objective is the Head of the Civil Service in terms of the Career Management/Deployment of officers; courage to deploy hard working and dedicated DDs and ADs to more challenging duties including being given the opportunity to serve in executive positions in parastatals and agencies, as opposed to our current penchant for making those appointments from outside the civil service.
  5. How have both the leadership of the civil service and the Governor been managing the Structural Flaws - as occur:

-(a) when there are breakdowns in communication or lapses in responsibility, such that middle management level officers do not have effective channels of communication with their Perm Sec/DG or even Director (I am told of some Ministries where Directors would be waiting for hours to see their Perm Sec!); or

- (b) the now more prevalent practice of Ministers/Commissioners/Special Advisers or CEOs that are operating,within the comfort of their personal offices,their own bureaucratic silos of a coterie of personal assistants carrying several unapproved titles of “Special Adviser”; “Senior Special Adviser”, “Technical Adviser” or even “Chief of Staff”, thereby cutting off the mainstream officers; or

- (c)in its worst expression, the intrusionof irregular titles like the title Coordinating Minister for the Economythat subsisted from 2011-2015 at the federallevel when a political office holder acquired and discharged a responsibility that had neither an operational platform nor a bureaucratic complement to support the title - a CME without a Coordinating Perm Sec for the Economy (CPSE) and Coordinating Directors for the Economy in charge of IER; HF; CM etc. or

- (d) the obliteration of the office of Minister of State for Finance as has existed for the most part since the return to democratic governance since 1999, despite the volume of work necessitated by the national and international commitments, obligations and responsibilities of the Ministry.

  1. Inability to promote Creativity – ideas from even the lower grade level officers are critical towards the performance and therefore success of any Ministry or agency. Does the structure of the Ministry engender or stifle creativity? A structure that stifles creativity will certainly hurt productivity. Productivity suffers in an environment that stifles creativity. “Omodengbon, agbangbonni a fi da ile Ife” (the joint wisdom of the young and the old was the basis of the solid foundation that createdthe Land of Ife)
  2. Lack of Management Responsiveness toOrganizational Growth – the growth of a Ministry usually manifests in increased responsibilities and work load. In a Government, this type of growth does not immediately lead to the expansion of the structure through increased manning levels or the creation of new agencies, as opposed to what usually happens in business organizations. Rather, response to such growth is through the strengthening of the structure by: (i) the deployment of inspiring and efficient Directorate level officers; (ii)improving the effectiveness of its communication channels; and (iii) ensuring promotion of creativityamong officers in the way they discharge their responsibilities.
  3. Poor Redundancy Management;
  4. Absence of Service revitalization -in terms of training, provision of working tools and good working environment;
  5. Poor General attitude to the maintenance of government infrastructure and utilities;
  6. Absence of Improvement in the operations and processes of government;
  7. Poor capacity to match authority with responsibility (Recall that the 2007 May 16 FEC Approval was for a PS to have approval limit of N1,000,000while Directors on GL 17 were to thenceforth have approving authority of N100,000. Approval authority limit of federal perm secs was later increased to N5,000,000. This increase notwithstanding, federal perm secs have continued to side-line Directors in the prerogative of exercising an approval authority. The fact however, remains that there is no evidence to prove that only Perm Secs and CEOs are the only public officials that are honest and that Directorate level officers cannot be trusted with government funds.
  8. Insufficient budget,accentuated by the inability to prudently and efficiently manage what is appropriated as exemplified in the loopholes identified in Chapter 9 RGGN pp. 144- 164 on the Tracer Analysis of Official Abuse of the Budgets of MDAs by Political Office Holders.
  9. Lack of effective coordination at the Center of Government (by the OSSG, CoS ) – the mandate to “ “coordinate and monitor implementation of Government policies and programmes; and serve as think tank and technical backbone of the Presidency” that is vested in the OSGF demands not just effective discharge but a proactive approach if governance is to reap the desired response from Ministries, extra-Ministerial Departments, Commissions and Agencies. This requires timely issuance of circulars, evaluation of compliance and sanctions for or report/documentation of non-compliance.

5. Institutionalizing a Government Structure that Can Impact Positively on Productivity and Efficiency: Common Goal and Joint but Differentiated Responsibilities

  1. The Dialectics of Bureaucracy and Democracy in Governance

The dialectics of bureaucracy and democracy in governance is discussed by Adegoroye in RGGN p16 where quoting Dwight Waldo in his 1977 Royer lecture posits that “the fundamental essences of democracy and bureaucracy are at home to intrinsic tensions, because the dialectic between the two concepts offers extraordinary opportunities for not only confusion and self-delusion but self-serving opinions”. As a civil servant, I have been equipped by my training to appreciate that one of the cardinal responsibilities of the bureaucracy is to serve as the guardian of the public interest and, arising from that, to at all times uphold the public trust. I am also aware that our political leaders and principals are quick to remind us that it is they who have the mandate of the people to represent their interest. According to Waldo, “One reason for the confusion and delusion is that the engine of democracy and bureaucracy run on different tracks, leaving from different stations and oftentimes heading for different destinations. Sometimes, they run parallel to each other, seemingly moving as one; more frequently, however, the tracks either diverge or converge, depending on the forces that are exerted on them at any given moment”. When they do converge, according to Louis Gawthrop, the inevitable result is a dialectical happening - a euphemism for a hell of a train wreck” .

Giving practical illustration of Waldo’s thesis of dialectical happening, Gawthrop stated that “Asking public servants to, under changing constraints, satisfy contradictory demands of adapting the prevailing canons of management to the intrinsic values of democracy would create a professional environment wherein the art of pretense, the methods of acting or playing a role, indeed of wearing a mask, becomes virtual prerequisites for a successful career. In far too many instances, the appearance of commitment to duty is sufficient to fulfil the demands of public service as exemplary bureaucrats. As a consequence, those individuals who are successful in appearing to be dutiful public servants (the se ka rimis; sycophants; eye service officers) are the ones most frequently viewed as exemplary bureaucrats”

The challenge is how to tear the garb of hypocrisy in the relationship between political leaders and the bureaucracy; and to make political leaders appreciate that public servants means well.

  1. Salient Characteristics of aGovernment Structure that Can Impact Positively on Productivity and Efficiency and the Responsible Bodies

The Structure that will have positive impact on the Productivity and Efficiency of any Ministry is one that:

  • Recognises the importance of the reciprocal public service value expectations of public servants as the core-critical imperative and accordingly:
  • Operates an effective span of control for the Minister(s), Permanent Secretary, CEO and Director in terms of the number of agencies and parastatals as well as Departments and Units within the Ministry; G & BL
  • Without prejudice to the seniority ladder, ensures that the Departmental Manning Levels is able to recognize the competence of officers to enable them be deployed to more challenging and fulfilling assignments using, for example, the team-leadership approach; BL
  • Ensures that the Office environment is conducive for working (e.g. in terms of power supply and temperature control) and that the layout is one that fosters supervision and mentoring; and is less prone to abuse for unethical activities/behaviours; G
  • Ensures that desk officers are provided with working tools - G
  • Ensures that the Paraphernalia of office of political office holders and senior bureaucrats and the maintenance of those paraphernalia do not distract from the ability of the Ministry to provide what is required for the effective operation of the Ministry, especially at the level of the desk officers -G
  • Ensures that Ministerial-Agency relationship is complementary rather than antagonistic, and that the official line of protocol is observed and respected in communication; It is imperative that notwithstanding the multiplicity of agencies departments and units, there is effective coordination, to foster partnership, collaboration, mutual and symbiotic relationship and respect for order and extant rules in order to achieve the common goal of delivering on the mandate of the Ministry; G & BL
  • Insists on having High integrity / high quality personnel deployed to management level positions; G & BL
  • Ensures that Managerial influence is efficient and inspiring to subordinates; BL
  • Ensures that Career Management rewards hard work, dedication and effectiveness; BL
  • Ensures that Deployment of officers engenders creativity and encourages them to put in their best; BL

Ensures that there are effective channels of communication, up to the Perm Sec and Minister; G & BL

  • Seeks to operate astructure that is fortified with inspiring and efficient Directorate level officers, and promotes creativity to enable it to accommodate increased responsibilities. BL
  • Ensures that Redundancy is effectively managed; G & BL
  • There is effective Service revitalization - in terms of training, provision of working tools and good working environment; G & BL
  • There is improved general attitude to the maintenance of government infrastructure and utilities, as if they are one’s own; BL
  • Ensuresthat Improvement in the operations and processes of government is institutionalized; G & BL
  • Ensures that ability to match authority with responsibility has been made the norm by establishing a regime of approving authority limits that will not constitute a hinderance to the assigned responsibilities of principal officers of Government, from Commissioner and Permanent Secretary down the ladder to DGs, GMs and Directorate level officers. I would easily suggest N2,500,000 for Commissioner/HoS; N500,000 for Perm Sec; N250,000 for GM/DG; Director at N100,000; DD N25,000 and officers on GL 15 being able to operate a standing imprest of N50,000 per quarter.
  • The Ministerial/Departmental Budget is prudentially managed to make it sufficient to support the Ministerial Mandate. G & BL; and
  • Relates effectively with the OSGF/OSSG as the central organ for guidance and clearance on governance issues. G & BL

6. The Imperatives of a New Way of Thinking

The import of the long list of factors that impact productivity and efficiency that I have highlighted above is that we need a new way of thinking if we are to improve efficiency in Government. To this extent we must live by the adage that “the hood does not make the monk” and recognize that neither the structure of government nor the sovereign mandate of election or appointment into political office confer on the individuals holding elective or appointive positions the liberty to indulge in the paraphernalia of office of the type and magnitude as are currently splashed on or cornered by government functionaries.

Considering that we are in the 21st Century, where the ICT has virtually taken over both the role of a physical office space and the multiplicity of roles hitherto played by office support staff, and a global environment that is witnessing increasing fluidity in the migration of expertise and where multi-tasking has become the order of the day:

  • What is the relationship between the size of our offices and the efficiency and effectiveness of political office holders on the job?
  • By theirlay-out, do these offices lend themselves to effective supervision and mentoring of subordinates by their bosses?
  • Are these types of offices efficient in terms of energy use and use of other resources?
  • How do we explain a situation where, while the entire Government Secretariatis incapacitated by power failure, clerks, messengers and typists that are hanging around with nothing to do cannot be mobilized to clean the filthy office surroundings and even take the initiative to apply touch of paint coating to the fading and disfigured walls of Government Secretariat?
  • What is the sense in the continued regimentation of cadres to the detriment of initiatives geared at solving emerging challenges? Obviously, the segregation of office support staff into Clerks, Messengers, Cleaners, Tea-Girl etc. is a disincentive to both the creativity potentials of officers on those cadres and the productivity and efficiency of the public service.

The over-riding question in the discussion of public service productivity and efficiency is: How do we improve the capacity of the civil/public service to meet the real-time response requirements of the ICT driven 21st century knowledge age?

Obviously, the era of carrying files and/or of officers minuting down and up across several grade levels before taking an action has passed, as a 2-hour lag in decision making in one unit of a Ministry is enough to embarrass a whole Government. Accordingly, the hierarchical nature of consultation/advice that in the traditional set up of government bureaucracy precedes decision making as a prelude to action/execution of an approved directive must give way to a set up where officers at various levels, especially from GL 12 -16, are equipped well enough to be able to respond promptly to issues that arise in their units while ensuring that every officer on the line of authority in that issue is kept abreast of the action taken, through an e mail trail that is unambiguous about what is taking place but is supportive of each other. In other words, we must reconsider the notion of “working hours” as an 8 am – 4 pm or 9 am - 5 pm ritual and begin to work towards adopting a system that recognizes that, for every Ministry or Agency, certain officers must be on guard (not “on-call” in the abused sense of its application by medical doctors) from 5 pm to 8 am (i.e. during the official closing hours) to be in a position to alert and/or directly take the required actions on the time-bound issues where prompt response would go a long way to saving lives and cost.

There is a compelling need to pursue a public service renewal and revitalizing programme, through a succession management process that protects the integrity of public service records and promotes regular intake of young, moldable and ICT-friendly graduates as an indispensable strategy for repositioning the Osun State public service to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

An additional imperative is to reconcile the demands of labour unions with the contending demands of developmental priorities, in the face of the reality of scanty resources of the State.

Payment of Salaries and Pension has been a major challenge to the State, as demonstrated in the bad press generated for the State in 2016. Would the situation have played out the same way if the State had been able to:

  1. carry out a thorough biometrics to clean out ghost, irregular and fake insertions into the State payroll?
  2. ensure that hanging disciplinary cases had been dispatched with?
  3. ensure that there was a thorough screening of officers to remove the deadwoods as well as officers still hanging on in abolished and out-sourced cadres? and
  4. institute a programme of renewal and revitalization of the public service to bring in young and virile graduates, and with those young graduates waiting in line to take their places constituting a pressure force to push out the aged public servants?

Oftentimes as public servants, we seem to conveniently forget that the business of government is to deliver development and services to the populace and,accordingly, that political leaders are elected to promote the development of the State, not payment of salaries per se.

It should be noted that the resources of the State accrue from two main sources, namely:

  • Receipts from the Federation Account; and
  • Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

And that grants and foreign and local loans only come in periodic tranches; and that these loans could add to the burden of the State to meet its obligations, when they a ripe for repayment.

For a State like Osun, which is without much industrial base, IGR can only be considered within the context of efforts to expand the State’s economic base, as any arbitrary increase in tax on the populace can easily be misrepresented as an unrealistic and punitive factor of resource growth. It should be crystal clear to everybody that, the capacity of the State to grow the State’s economic base is contingent on its ability to move state resources in the direction of capital expenditure for the provision of infrastructure, social services, security, etc., which in turn would affect what can be available for salaries. The ideal situation is for the State to be in a position where it is able to meet all of its requirements for personnel emolument within what accrues (to the State) from IGR.

It is imperative that Government ensures that in every budget cycle, there is a balance between Recurrent and Capital appropriationssuch that funds earmarked for the provision of infrastructure, social services and other development oriented activities should, as a guiding principle, not fall below 50% of the total appropriation. In similar vein, it should be the desire of Government to ensure that even the personnel cost does not exceed 65% of the recurrent expenditure. The challenge is how to make both the labour unions and the citizenry to appreciate this rationale and to capture these principles in a Pay Policy that would guide the operations of the Government.

Improving public service productivity and efficiency to foster the effective execution of government’s development agenda demands judicious use of the resources available to Government and ability to shun ostentatious display of the paraphernalia and glamour of office currently exhibited by elected and appointed political office holders. This entails cutting the zize of official contingent/ delegation on Trips and Tours; and reducing the ceremonial aspects of project execution, like Foundation Laying & Commissioning of Projects. Politicians may be quick to tell you that these ceremonies are what allows them to reconnect with their electorates. But then these are the pertinent questions:

  • How do we balance the expected political gains/leverage that such indulgencies are assumed to confer with the expectations of civil servants for the funding requirements of their programmes and activities?
  • What should be the ideal percentage of cost of Foundation Laying and Commissioning ceremonies in relation to the cost of the projects - 0.1% or 5%, 10% or 20%? I would readily advise pegging such costs ideally at 0.1% but no more than 1% under any circumstances, so that commissioning a N100 million project would cost N100,000 and, no matter the political leverage to be derived from the project, at no more than N1,000,000

Political will and prudent management of resources demand that government functionaries in elected or appointive positions are able toreconcile such costs with ability and readiness to provide funds for: working tools, conducive environment with electricity for working, etc. all of which are drivers of public service productivity and are the basic expectations of the public servants. That is the essence of efficient management of resources. There is therefore a compelling need to consciously migrate funds to productivity promoting/engendering cost centers.

Patriotism and the defense of public interest is not the exclusive preserve of the bureaucracy, or of the opposition and the oppressed. Not only can elected leaders also be patriotic, there have indeed, been many instances where they have proved to be patriotic citizens. Similarly, it is wrong to assume that public servants are at all times serving the public interest and not political interest. This is because, some public servants are politicians in bureaucratic clothing; and there are enough examples around us,both in the past and of recent, to confirm that assertion!

The key thing is to recognize that in Governance, there are tough choices and decisions to be made and that short term political expediencies are baking ovens for grave bureaucratic consequences in the long run. The actions required in governance may sometimes not be palatable; but they must serve the common good. Courting cheap popularity is not the answer. Neither is being on the meek side when strong actions are required. As Governor Jerry Brown of California would often say, “Political life is not a platform for canonization”. On the flip side, it is also imperative that the bureaucratic leadership shows courage and is able to, at all times,speak truth to power. More importantly, the bureaucratic leadership must be able to mobilize the Permanent Secretaries and Directorate level officers to bring the effect of their over 20 years’ experience to bear on the quality of their work in order to gain the confidence and respect of the political class.

I thank you all for your kind attention.

Goke Adegoroye, PhD, OON 21 December, 2017

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Goke Adegoroye, PhD, OON and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."