26 August 2009

Nigeria: Re-Engineering The Civil Service


Lagos — The civil service is the engine room of government and the reason why governments in their quest to ensure rapid socio-economic and political development, place high premium on it. It is entrusted with the formulation and implementation of government policies and programmes of action. In Bauchi, the state government is reengineering that arm for effective governance, While delivering his inaugural address in 2007, Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State promised to restore security of life and property within the shortest possible time. He also promised to provide jobs for the teeming unemployed youths in the state as well as pay greater attention to education, while overhauling the health sector, empower civil servants through increased wages and improve women affairs.

The Yuguda Administration has since remained steadfast in its commitment to spur a rebirth of education and youth development, empower women and improve the public health sector, while restoring the exemplary work ethics of the civil service. Before the coming of the Yuguda two years ago, the civil service in the state was highly ill-equipped, docile and demoralised because of poor remuneration. THISDAY investigation revealed that its workers were one of the least paid in the country. So in order to turn around the civil service towards ensuring maximum productivity, various reforms were immediately introduced by the government.

Speaking to THISDAY recently, the State's Head of Civil Service (HOS), Alhaji Abdulkadir Ibrahim Mohammed said one of such reforms was the inspiring leadership of Yuguda, which has injected the much needed interest and enthusiasm in the workforce towards implementing government's policies and programmes as well as brought industrial harmony between the government and workers in the state.

Another measure introduced by the Yuguda Administration, according to the HOS was the restoration of car loan scheme, which is unprecedented in the history of the civil service since car loan was introduced by the Tatari Ali administration in 1980. The Yuguda government purchased 1,000 Chevrolet Optra cars for distribution to deserving civil servants on salary grade level 14 and above on loan basis. The flag-off ceremony was performed by Yuguda last year.

Similarly, 5000 motorcycles were purchased and distributed to junior civil servants. Yuguda reiterated his commitment and determination to continue to enhance the socio-economic wellbeing of the citizenry as well as raise the political status of the state through adequate provision of policies, programmes and projects that have direct bearing on the people. He added that he will also continue to operate a style of leadership which is open-minded, inclusive and compassionate.

Some civil servants, who spoke to THISDAY on the governor's gesture, said the restoration of the car loan by the Yuguda Administration, has gone a long way in enhancing productivity in the civil service as beneficiaries would no longer battle with the issue of lateness in their respective offices. David Ayodele, a staff of the Bauchi State Radio Corporation (BRC) and beneficiary of the loan said the gesture has also raised the morale and social status of the benefiting civil servants, who were hitherto seen as second class citizens. He therefore called on the beneficiaries to justify the confidence reposed in them by being more dedicated to their duties.

Director of Information, State Ministry of Information, Alhaji Muhammad Inuwa Bello described the human capacity development of the present administration as unprecedented in the 33-year history of the state. He said the idea "behind Yuguda's programmes is to develop human capacity, it is hoped that the good people of the state would reciprocate the gesture by being dedicated to their duties so that Bauchi will be among the best developed states by 2020.

Also, President of the Community Leaders Association (CLA), umbrella organisation of all non-indigene communities in the state, Alhaji Ochepa commended the Yuguda-led government for its various civil service reforms aimed at enhancing productivity. He said the restoration of the car loan, the owner-occupier housing scheme and the various workshops and retreat organised for civil servants including senior government officials in and outside the state were measures aimed at enhancing maximum productivity in the state civil service.

The Head of Civil Service said capacity building is key to the growth and development of any society "and that is why this administration, right from the onset decided to face it headlong, and the importance of workshops, training and retraining, retreat, computer training and provision of office equipment to civil servants in the state cannot be overemphasised as the essence of these gestures is to help restore the lost glory of the state civil service." THISDAY gathered that over 2,584 civil servants were trained during the period under review, while 118 others were sponsored for various diploma programmes. A total of 449 cases of appointments, promotions and conversions were handled by the civil service.

Another significant achievement of the present administration is the abolition of the famous "Bauchi formula" through the upward review of salaries and allowances of the civil servants. Similarly, government went ahead to implement HATISS and CONTISS for all tertiary institutions in the state, while salaries of judges and other judicial staff were also reviewed upwards. It also approved a 100 per cent upward review of running cost of ministries and department to ensure effective service delivery.

Yuguda's holistic approach to the development of housing has transformed the moribund sector, and through the introduction of owner-occupier scheme, 1,118 civil servants are now proud owners of houses courtesy of the 30 per cent subsidy on the houses by the present administration. With this development, a 4-bedroom house at Gubi Housing Estate was sold at N3, 023,908.00 from the earlier N4 million, while a 3-bedroom was sold at N2, 337,300.00 from the rate of N3.5 million.

A total of 181 lowcost houses spread across the state were also sold to the occupants on owner-occupier scheme. The houses are located at Toro, Dass, Tafawa Balewa, Alkaleri, Darazo, Misau, Gamawa, Dambam and Udubo. while others are located at Giade, Disina, Azare, Katagum, Jama'are, Ningi, Shira, Yana and Itas. Arrangements have also been completed with 10 private developers to build between 5,000 to 10,000 housing units in various sites in the state capital and the local government areas. Already, an agreement with the Federal Mortgage Bank for a N5 billion soft loan to construct 6,000 additional housing units has been signed by the state government.

The State Head of Service said that the Yuguda Administration, as a deliberate policy is conscious that the psychological satisfaction derived from a decent functional houses is sine-qua non to the total efficiency and productivity of the state workforce. Also, the sum of N1.5 billion has been approved and disbursed to boost commercial enterprises across the state. To this end, a loan management committee has been set up to manage the scheme, while the ailing industries the present administration inherited from the Ahmadu Adamu Mu'azu-led government, across the state were been rehabilitated to boost business and commercial activities and enhance the economic growth and development of the state.

As part of its civil service restoration agenda, Servicom was also introduced with the aim of improving and promoting efficient service delivery in the state. All these achievements within this short period are believed to be the reason why the World Bank in its 2008 report described Bauchi as the most investment friendly state in the country. In furtherance to its avowed commitment and determination to promote good governance, the state government is currently implementing "state governance and capacity building project (World Bank Assisted)." According to Alhaji Abdulkadir Ibrahim, the project is meant to ensure effective and efficient utilisation of financial and human resource management.

The present administration has also through the office of the Head of Civil Service recruited 3,643 university graduates and similar number of diploma holders into the state civil service. Similarly 5,565 indigenes of the state have been employed into various military, paramilitary and police service. And the injection of this new blood into the civil service has not only provided the much needed employment but energised the service, which has in turn positioned the state to achieve maximum development.

Yuguda said "democracy is all about delivering dividends to the people and we are committed to upholding this promise to the electorate as well as poised to address the needs and demands of our people because we are an elected government, and it is on the basis of promises which we made to the electorate that we were elected."

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