Rules Governing Public Service In Nigeria

The Civil Service has come to exist as an inevitable structure in our political system, to formulate and transform public policies into concrete outcomes. It has grown in sophistication as the political fortunes change, with accelerated development and increased size of human resources. It therefore requires that its continuous existence must be organized on certain rules, regulations and procedures. Public affairs must be conducted according to stipulated rules and procedures. Public service rules are quite inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and any other law applicable to the governance and peaceful co-existence in the country.

Public Service Rules

Public Service Rules are the coded expected behaviour, conducts, and laid-down procedures for the organization of the civil service. It contains issues of appointments, promotion, discipline, benefits, retirement, probation, documentation of records, distribution of authority and methods of doing things.

Public Service Rules as coded, is widely circulated and made available to all categories of staff in the public service. It is a reference document, and its amendments are made through circulars, which are issued from time to time. It is referred to as General Orders (G.O) the rules is an importanct instrument to ensure the standardization, uniformity and impartiality in the civil service. The rules have helped to checkmate the systematic destruction of good conducts and public institutions in Nigeria.

Public or Civil Service Rules is an effort to underscore the concern for discipline and proper conduct and practices of public officers. It is designed to enhance fairness, equity, accountability and good administration. The rules apply to all public servants including the president, and it is expected to promote public good.

The rules attempt to stamp out the cynical contempt for integrity in the Public in general in the observance of rules and regulations in official and government actions. It is a move to replace the noticeable gross laxity in public life and in the conduct of government business. It seeks to establish transparency, probity and accountability in the public service.

Government Financial Instructions

This is a definite procedure and guidelines designed to regulate the collection, custody, disbursement and documentation of government funds and materials in the store. It embodies the procedures for the authorization and approval of funds in the respective government Ministries and Departments. It provides codes of procedure for financial/accounting function. It stipulates comprehensive rules and procedures, a receipt and disbursement of public funds, stores and maintenance of public property. It guides the opening of bank account, collection of revenue, purchases and use of money for certain purposes, etc.

Civil Service Handbook

The handbook gives a detailed directive on the basic approaches and Methods for creating different types of files.

It aids the proper keeping and maintenance of personnel records or documentation of government policies. It contains vital information such as, the structure, style, organization and objectives of the Civil Service. It helps to re-orientate the newly employed into the Civil Service.

Official Gazzette

It is a publication that holds authoritative and authentic information about appointment, promotion, or retirement cum exit of an officer in the Civil Service. It is an invaluable asset of material required for insertion into personal records or files for authentication or conformation of appointments, promotion and relevant facts. It also publishes other enactments of government and important advertisements. It is published weekly and helps to guide actions of public servants.

Circular Letters

The issuance of circular letters is an administrative procedure for presenting periodic guidelines on the conduct of government business. It is usually issued by the Establishments, Ministry or Division of the Cabinet Offivce, or from the permanent Secretary/Head of Extra-Ministerial Department. It attempts to interpret ambiguous and difficult provisions in the Civil Service rules; introduce amendments or new policy direction of the government. The use of circular letters create for flexibility in the application of rules in the civil service.

The Constitution

The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria remains the fundamental and supreme document that governs every affair of the public and governance in Nigeria. Its provisions contain relevant rules, principles and codes for employment into public offices; distribution of authority, institutions control and appropriation of public funds. Every other rule in the public service is inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution, in so far as it concerns the conditions of service in the civil service.

The Role Of The Establishment Department In The Maintenance Of Guidelines And Rules In Civil Service

The Ministry of Establishment or Establishment Division of the cabinet office has remained a formidable ministry in the public service. It occupies an important position in the implementation and maintenance of public service rules and procedures.

1. However, the Department plays the role of supervising and monitoring the strict adherence to the rules, by the ministries and the civil servants. They give site to the Rules.

2. It gives the needed interpretations to the rules, especially as it affects conditions of service, gratuity, pensions and contract appointments. It terminates contract appointments where necessary and determines the waiving of penalties in a contract agreement.

3. The department issues and authenticates certificates of service to public servants. This document is necessary for the confirmation of appointment in the Civil Service.

4. The Establishment Department keeps up-to-date records of every officer in its central staff records office.

5. It investigates official misconducts involving a service officer, and makes their findings available to the appropriate quarters for possible disciplinary action.

6. It advices on promotion, secondment, retirement, pensions and gratuities of staff in the service. It approves and keeps records of leaves of absence and medical cases. It administers pension services based on completed pension forms, certificates, record of service and other relevant documents.

7. It acts as a pool for information concerning civil service matters. It holds the statistical data of the numerical strength of officers.

8. It issues circulars and offical memos to give direction to the performance and activities of the civil service. The circulars may present a modified amendment to existing rules.

9. The Establishment Division exists as a consultative arm in the civil service, especially in determining the structure of the ministries, grading of staff and the maintenance of uniformity of standards and procedures.

10. The Establishment Ministry coordinates Civil Ministry promotion examinations. The promotions examination are periodically organized to fill vacant positions and elevate officers due for promotion and recognition.

Position Of Permanent Secretaries In The Maintenance Of Public Service Rules

The Permanent Secretaries are usually appointed by the government in power and their deployment to respective ministries and Departments is the responsibility of the Head of Service. They are the pilots of the civil service and hold the broad interests to ensure the attainment of the objective principles and procedures of civil service.

The Permanent Secretary is the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry and Extra-Ministerial Departments. They are trained and groomed to operate on the laid-down public service rules and regulations. They hold the delegated power to appoint, promote and discipline staff up to a certain level in civil service. They plan, organize, control and direct the affairs of the Ministry and Departments. He/she makes strategies decisions, comments and allocates resources in the Ministry or Department. He/she acts within set limits and constraints dictated by Public Service Rules and Political exigencies.

The Permanent Secretary exists as the Accounting Officer of the Ministry and Department. By the financial instructions they control the ministry’s financial vote and all expenditures are made on his/her behald after clearance. He/she overseas a great deal of personnel matter, such as personnel matters, approval of leave and vacation, discipline, promotion and staff development in the ministries and Departments. He/she approves appointments made in the ministry from Grade levels 01-06.

Ways Of Enforcing Public Service Rules

The responsibility for the enforcement of public service rules lie grossly on the Civil Service Commission and the aformentioned institutions. There exists the Federal Civil Service Commission to oversee activities of the civil servants at the Federal Level while the state’s and Local Government’s have their responsibility of ensuring compliance to the rules, uniformity of standard and adequate performance in overall governance of the state.

However, the Rules of Public Service are enforced through proper recruitments and selections, trainings and staff development, regular workshops, conferences and seminars, reforms disciplines, regular and periodic issuance of letters of circular, memos and official instructions, tranfers, seniority adherence promotions, APER (Annual Performance Appraisal) and occasional arbitrations and adjudication of Public Service matters and disputes. The efforts of the trade unions in the Public Service have assisted in ensuring compliance and integration of the officers with the Public Service Rules.

In Summary

The Public Service is governed by a body of rules and regulations. It is also guided by laid-down procedures which are strictly followed. The rules are embodied in the Public Service Rules or General Order, Financial instructions, Civil Service Handbooks, Gazettes, Letters of Circular and Memos; the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other relevant Statutory Acts, Edicts, Decrees, Criminal and Penal Codes, and bye-laws that govern the state. Also, the position of the Permanent secretaries and the Establishment Department or Ministry are inevitable in ensuring the compliance and enforcement of Public Service Rules.

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