Pay and rewards have been identified as one of the very substantial and important tools deployed by employers of labour in the private sector in motivating their staff towards better and more satisfactory performance.
This approach probably accounts for the much vaunted efficiency in the private sector. However, the reverse is the case in the public sector where such programmes, if they exist, are quite old, rigid and anachronistic.
It has been proven that most public institutions and governmental agencies are interested in improving the quality of their service delivery. In advanced and developing climes, the customer-focused performance-based reward scheme is a tool that has been successfully used to manage performance of public institutions.
A good example of a body that has been able to encourage improved service delivery in its public institution is the United Nations (UN). The UN system has a public service awards which is the most prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service. It rewards the creative achievements and contributions of the public service institutions that lead to a more effective and responsive public administration in countries worldwide.
Through an annual competition, the UN public service award promotes the role of professionalism and visibility in public service.
Borrowing a leaf from the UN, a service delivery watchdog in Nigeria, the Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group (ISDMG) in 2011 and launched an award system to reward outstanding performance in public institutions.
Speaking at the unveiling of service delivery report and awards for most outstanding public institutions in Nigeria in 2012-2013 in Abuja, the executive director of ISDMG, Dr Chima Amadi, said the award was established as a window for institutions to determine the quality of service they have rendered and seek better ways of deepening their operations.
Amadi said, "Three years down the line, what started as an experiment to determine an appropriate feedback mechanism from the people whom public institutions serve has now become an established window for these institutions to determine the quality of service they render and seek better ways of deepening their operations."
He remarked that 19 institutions emerged as the most outstanding public institutions, out of the 300 selected for the 2012-2013 editions.
He said, "From a modest 45 organisations that underwent public scrutiny in 2011 to over 300 institutions for this years edition, today marks the culmination of an exercise that commenced six months ago. We shall be celebrating the achievements of 19 public institutions that beat all comers to emerge as the most outstanding public institutions 2012-2013 as determined by Nigerians through a very rigorous exercise."
According to him, "The 21st century is marked by the increasing agitations of citizens who equip themselves with knowledge and resources to make informed choices and demand the right to know policies, laws and other information that may affect them. The expectation is that public service and governments need to be first and foremost responsive to the public.
"For us at the ISDMG, our experience in the last eight years of consistent assessment and monitoring of public sector service delivery have shown that when agencies are commended and appreciated well especially by those they serve, they seem to move up towards better performance. Herein lies the dogged determination in insisting against all odds and given apathy from skeptical institutions to replicate in Nigeria that concept which they so eagerly and willingly travel out of the country to participate in."
The most outstanding public institutions in Nigeria for 2012-2013 includes the Bank of Industry; Bauchi State Universal Basic Education Board; Ministry of Power; Federal Mortgage Bank Nigeria; Federal Road Maintenance Agency; Federal Road Safety Commission; Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission; Legal Aid Council; National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other Related Matters; National Directorate of Employment; National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.
Others are the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency; Nigerian Communications Commission; Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation; Raw Materials Research and Development Council; Rivers State Traffic Management Authority; Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund.
In his remarks, the chairman of the occasion and publisher of the Road newspaper, Abdulrazak Barkindo, said that Nigeria can get the best of public institutions only if the good work they put in is recognised and rewarded.
He said, "Public institutions play a major role in the economy of any nation. They are pivotal to the development of any nation. The activities of the public institutions affect the economy of any nation directly and in Nigeria, we can only hope to promote efficiency and service delivery in our public institutions if they are recognised and rewarded for their contributions in the society."