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Open letter to President-elect

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Sir: Permit me to use this medium to congratulate you for the success your political party recorded in the recent general elections in the country. I must also quickly add that, I sympathize with you over the state of helplessness the nation you are going to preside over has degenerated to. Sir, it would be absolutely impossible for anyone to analyze to you the magnitude of challenges facing our institutions on the pages of newspapers, suffice to say that, one could attempt to select critical ones. I have therefore decided to pick on the Civil Service being the fulcrum within which the bureaucracy revolves as well as the imperative of policy sustainability and democratic stability in Nigeria.

The Civil Service has of recent, witnessed many reform initiatives aimed at repositioning it in order to face the contemporary challenges of globalization and economic development. Unfortunately however, despite the numerous reforms, not much success has been recorded, while the little made has been whittled down over the years. The fundamental reason behind this apparent lack of sustainability, is largely due to the failure of the Civil Service as an institution to perform its role responsibly arising from its docility and lack of capacity to adjust to contemporary challenges.

The collateral effect of this unfortunate action has therefore affected the performances of other regulatory institutions such as the Federal Civil Service Commission, Federal Character Commission, Public Complaints Commission, National Salaries, Incomes, and Wages Commission in view of their symbiotic relationships. Of particular concern is the apparent lack of monitoring and coordination often exhibited by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation on regulatory matters. A situation where circulars and other directives emanating from such office are not enforced jeopardizes the essence of the Office and promotes impunity in the system. The feedback mechanism has been truncated, and only matters of “mutual interest” are concluded. Similarly, record keeping and management, which is vital for national development plans is lacking thereby leading to duplication of efforts and waste of resources as well as the loss of institutional memory.

You may be surprised to know that, there is hardly any issue of national Importance that has not been analyzed and documented by participants of the National Institute for Policy and Strategies Studies (NIPSS). Yet, the Office of the Vice President and that of the Head of Civil Service pays little or no attention to such papers. I honestly find it difficult to rationalize a situation where the country spends about N15 million per course on each of the 65 participants in Kuru and yet has no programme for them despite our deficit in capacity building.

I read in the dailies that government has been borrowing money to pay salaries of federal Civil Servants. I am the least surprised by the Finance Minister’s pronouncement. This is largely because the Office to the Head of Civil Service of the Federation and that of the Accountant General of the Federation lacks the proper coordination mechanism to monitor the activities of the newly introduced Integrated Personnel Payroll System (IPPS). The managers of the system have abused the principle behind the programme and now collaborate with Parastatals and Agencies to capture irregular employees into the national budget.

•Salisu Auwal, mni,

Kano.

Sir, it is also imperative to note that, successive regimes have been faced challenges of inadequate institutional policy and legal frame work leading to the duplication of projects, overlapping mandates for agencies and institutions and lack of clarity of institutional programmes which affect their performances. Recently, the Orosanye Committee recommended the merger and scrapping of institutions with overlapping responsibilities in order to curtail waste and improve performance, but political interest by President Jonathan’s administration denied its implementation. This should therefore be explored in view of our dwindling resource and high external debt.

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