Civil Service Reforms In Nigeria

The Need For Reforms In The Civil Service

The political and socio-economic changes in the country have given rise to the need for the reforms in the civil service. The Reforms indicate changes, improvements and developments in the civil service, as an inevitable institution of the state. It brings horizontal and vertical significant changes in the structure and performance of the service. It holds on overall objective of optimum utilization of human and material resources at the disposal of the state. The Reforms are grossly concerned with government objectives as the central aim. They are landmarks in the search for an enduring system.

The reforms are formidable efforts to share in the proposition that the civil services should be virile, dynamic and result oriented. It seeks to promote and encourage the specialization of personnel in the civil service. Also, the government sees the reforms as efforts to achieve their objectives. Hence, the reforms are made to re-organize, restructure and re-orientate the entire work-force. The institutional arrangements of the civil service, functions, distribution of responsibilities and correlative powers are grossly affected.

Yahaya and Akinyele (1992) see reforms as capable of giviving a new sense of direction with efficacious orientation towards the attainment of government objectives, aims and policies. It reinforces the structure of the system; professionalizing the system; develops the knowledge, skills, expertise and the attitudes of the human resources through training and retraining of the workforce in the civil service. The reforms are geared towards repositioning the public services to be service oriented institutions with efficiency and for effective performance. The right sizing of the probably over bloated workforce and retraining of personnel to encourage production is encouraged.

The characteristic poor service delivery in the civil service needs to be addressed. There is the observation of improver mix between manpower needs and actual employment in the government institutions and agencies. This leads to inefficiency and poor service delivery, hence the need for reforms. The reforms aim at eliminating persistent bottlenecks, inconsistencies and inadequacies in the public service. And re-position the civil service for efficiency and good service delivery.

The need for the Nigerianization and the expansion of the civil service for developmental purposes, also influenced the numerous reforms witnessed in the Nigerian Civil Service. Attention was usually paid to the need for structural re-organization of the services, to enable it meet with prevailing and perceived needs. It was expected to make for better orientation and effective performance in the public service. It places great emphasis on human resources development.

In addition, problems caused by the narrow definition of terms reference of the various reform commissions, and the problem of improper implementation of reforms report, also necessitated the consequent and the frequency of reforms in the Nigerian Civil Service.

However the Nigerian Civil Service has witnessed several reforms in the political history and socio-economic development of the nation. In this work, the reforms are divided into the Pre-independenc Reforms and the Post-Independence Reforms.

1. Pre-Independence Civil Service Reforms

The Pre-independence era is the period before the attainment of political independence, in Nigerian history and development. It was the period the colonial occupation and domination of the administration and management of the affairs of the Nigerian nation. The British as the Colonial Master, introduced several administrative policies and reforms to sustain their imperial rule, empiricism and the exploitation of the country.

The civil service then was meant to facilitate the Colonial administration of law and order. Infrastructural development was encouraged to the extent that it would facilitate the production and processing of industrial raw materials and cash crops. Most pre-independence reforms centered on salaries and wages, with little attention being paid to structural and institutional re-organization. The civil service was patterned according to the British Civil Service Structure, with the interest to attain the objectives of Colonial administration in Nigeria.

Sir Walter Harragin Reforms (1946)

This the foremost of all the reforms in the public service in Nigeria. It took the name from the leader of the commission that reviewed the public service in the then Colonial period.

According to Ehiodo (2006) the dissatisfaction, frustration, tension and conflict within the Nigerian Civil Services during the Colonial era, which resulted in the General Strike of 1945, was responsible for the setting up the Harragin commission. The commission’s of service and the motivation packages for the two service structure that the British established in their West African Colonies Nigeir, Gambia, Ghana and Sierra Leone. The reform made far-reaching structural changes, which are still prevalent in the Nigerian Civil Service.

H.m. Foot (1948) Reforms

The H.M. FOOT Commission reviewed the then civil service, with an effort to encourage and prepare Nigerians for greater participation in the civil service. It boldly recommended steps for the Nigerianization of the civil service. It created for the appointment of Nigerians to suitable positions which were formerly reserved for the British officials. Qualified Nigerians were appointed to the position of Assistant District Officers. With the increased agitations for Nigerian Independence, the reform prepared Nigerian for greater participation in the civil service.

Gorsuch (1954) Reforms

The reform was necessitated by the reflection on the then newly created Federation of Nigeria , the consequent structural changes, demand for constitutional and administrative changes in the public service. It re-organized the civil service structure and prescribed a five graded service structure of super scale; professional and administrative; executive and higher technical; clerical and technical and sub-clerical grades.

The reform gave attention to the structure, salary scales, conditions of service and training, organization and methods, delegation of authority and the increased Nigerianization of the public service.

Newn (January 1959) Reforms

The News commission and their reports were short-lived. It examined the structural integration of the ministries and Departments in the Federal Civil Service. It reviewed the entire establishment and its related matters. And further specified the role and functions of permanent secretaries, as well as the administrative machinery of control in the public service. The proposals of the NEWN’S commission were overtaken by political exigencies and demands, hence the immediate establishment of the Mbanefo commission in the same year.

Mbanefo Civil Service Reforms (1959)

The Mbanefo Civil Service Reforms Commission was established to complement the reports of the NEWNS (January 1959) commission on the civil service. Mbanefo’s commission was restricted to salaries and wages. It examined critically the effects of the prevalent cost of living on public service salaries and wages. It indicated the desirability of aligning the federal and regional rates on salaries and wages. Its recommendations, led to the increase in the salaries, wages and allowances of the public servants.

2. Post Independence Civil Service Reforms

The attainment of political independence by Nigeria on October 1st 1960, brought certain structural changes and developments in its body, politicm administration and the management of the public service. The post independence period saw Nigerian’s at the helm of affairs of the Nation and the initiation and dictation of the various reforms in the public service, up to the present date. Several reforms were initiated by the different governments in Nigeria, since independence. The reforms and their recommendations would be independently identified and reviewed herein.

Morgan Civil Service Reforms (1964)

This was the first post independence reform commission. It was originally sheduled to review the disparities in the junior staff salaries and wages employed in the Federal Civil Service and the private establishments.

It therefore recommended the introduction of the minimum wage for public service, in accordance with the availing resources of the respective regions. The commission’s report helped to increase and facilitate the payment of higher wages and salaries for workers in public and private sectors in Nigeria.

Elwood Civil Service Reforms (1966)

The commission was appointed mainly to enquire into the anomalies and prevailing conditions to positions in the public services of the federation. It had the responsibility to identify and rectify the identified errors in the Morgan’s commission salary grading and conditions of service, and subsequently, determine the appropriate grades and uniform standards of salaries and allowances in the public service and related services.

The commission’s report brought motivations and conditions for advancement to higher grades in the public service. The basic minimum educational qualifications for entry and advancement in the public service were spelt out, and the scheme of the public service clearly drawn.

Wolle Civil Service Reforms (1967)

The reform was an attempt by the federal government to address the training needs of the public service. It took its name after Prof. C.P. Wolle, a senior consultant and leader of the commission set up by the federal government with the Institute of Administration of the University of Ife, Ile-Ife. The commission was set up to carry out a survey on the training needs of the federal public service.

The survey’s reports reveal the urgent need for systematic, sustained and regular programme of action for the development of civil servants. The report further exposed the need for consciousness, re-organization and the re-activation of existing training centers, the establishment of staff development of staff development division in ministry of establishment, with a standing committe on staff development matters. It also emphasized the need for an administrative staff college for the development of senior executive of all cadres.

The federal government accepted the reports, and drew the framework for implementing plans for training and development within the public service. Training institutes were established and later integrated into the universities.

Adebo Civil Service Reforms (1971)

The commission was established to review the effects of the cost of living and developments in the economy on salaries and wages of public workers in Nigeria. It reviewed certain fundamental issues and identified certain basic values, which should be promoted in the public service. They include discipline, national survival and unity, high productivity, integrity and consistency in government policies. Also, the role of the public service reform commissiob, structure and conditions of service cum training arrangements in the civil service were reviewed.

The commission however, made recommendations on several subjects including, the establishment of public service review commission. It abolished daily paid system, and recommended increase in salaries and wages of public officers. It recommended the establishment of a National Board on productivity, incomes and prices.

Udoji Civil Service Reforms (1974)

The setting up of Jerome Udoji Civil Service reform commission and the adoption of its report by the government in 1974, brought a revolution in the public service management. The commission reviewed virtually all aspects of the public service, especially its organizations, structure, management, pensions, grading, performance and salary reviews. It introduced the private sector concept of management by objectives (MBO).

The commission recomended the adoption of the private sector result oriented management style, which inculcated scientific methods in achievement of targets and objectives of the public service. A code of ethics were incorporated in the service to control and maintain discipline in the public service. It further adopted a unified grade and salary structure (UGSS) for junior officers in graded levels 01 – 16 and the professional and administrative management group. The position of permanent secretary was thrown open to all cadres, including the professionals in the civil service, with the prerequisite qualifications.

Actually, the Udojic commission’s report was elaborate in motivating public officers, and subsequently affected the review of wages and salaries in the private sector.

1998 Civil Service Reforms

The economic downturn the 1980s created the compelling need for better management of the civil service. The civil service was charecterized according to Odenigwe (1922) by severe deterioration, over centralization, conflicts of interest, low emphasis on results, goalless, excessive compliance with norms and procedures and low staff morale etc.

The reform provided for each ministry to undertake the appointment, promotion and discipline of its staff. This was done with the guidelines provided by the civil service commission. This arrangement eroded the powers of the civil service commission.

The reform showcased the problem issues that had confronted the civil service of the years. It actually focus aged on addressing the perceived problems, but the implementation of the reforms were limited by lack of formal programme of implementation and inadequate funds.

Allison Ayida Panel Report (1994)

The Allison Ayida Panel was set to review the 1988 civil service reforms and the recommend remedies for the amelioration of the anomalies created by the aforementioned reform. The Abacha government abrogated the Decress No 43 of 1998 which gave effect to the reform. The Ayida Panel critically revewed the extent of politicization of the civil service, the loss of professionalism, Discipline, accountability, insecurity, loss of direction, low morale and poor remuneration in the public service.

However, the reform actually elongated the salary structure, and created for huge overhead cost to the government. The reform was patterned to the presidential and American model of civil service. The reform showcased the problem issues that had confronted the civil service of the years. It actually attempted its focus on addressing the perceived problems, but the implementation of the reforms were limited by lack of formal programme of implementation and inadequate funds.

It recommended the restoration of the post of permanent secretary and other nomenclatures of titles. The post of permanent secretary became a career posting among serving senior officers in the civil service. It detached the functions of Head of service from the secretary of the government. Both are to exist separately and with distinct functions. The permanent secretaries were restored as Chief Executives and Accounting Officers of the ministries and departments.

The Ayida panel report was dynamic, revolutionary and fundamental in restoring the civil service as a career service and in charting a new course for the service.

Obasanjo Reforms

The Olusegun Obasanjo administration, which came into power with the restoration of democracy in May 29th, 1999, brought in certain reforms and structural changes in the public and private sectors. The reforms were necessitated by the perceived deterioration of the economy decay of confidence, accountability and probity in the public service. Also, the endemic damage to public institutions by the years of military domination of governmental affairs, called for reforms in democratic dispensation.

The Obasanjo reforms affected virtually all spheres of public affairs and the economy. Specifically, attention would be given to the reforms directed on privatization, commercialization, monetization, due process and due diligence, pension reforms and administration and the anti-corruption posture of the administration. These reforms hold positive impacts on the public and civil service.

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