The Meaning Of Civil And Public Service (Roles)

The emergence of modern states has created weighty responsibility for governments. The government is the institution through which the will of the state is formulated. The question is what is the will of the state? And how are they formulated and implemented? We want security, peace, good roads, clean water, good education activity and employment. The question is who decides on here great issues and how are all aware of the presence of government and their activities around us, through its agencies, yet not much literature is available locally about the public service.

Definition Of Public Service

Public Service consists of all those who are engaged in the service of the Federal, State, Local governments and those employed in governments’ varied activities and establishments. It involves the totality of Personnels involved in the machinery of administration of the state and the implementation its policies. Policy formulation and implementation by the government(s) constitute the major engagements of public servants.

In further refers to the entire staff and employees of government parastatals and quasi-government organizations and the services they render to the public. Public service is a labyrith that holds an overwhelming array of structures, roles and relationships. It relates to the activities of governmental and para-governmental agencies in respect of any capacity of service to the public, acting on the relevant statutes establishing such agencies and institutions. On the overall note, public service include the staff of the National Assemblies, Local Government Councils, Judicial, Statutory commissions, corporations, and agencies. Established by the government; government owned educational institutions, members of the armed forces, police and para military organizations etc. Ugbo (2003) sees Public Service entirely, as public institutions, which exercise services, and implements the policies of the state. Public Service is wide and embraces, the general services, specialized services, profit based services, commercial and industrial services, provided by government institutions agencies and commissions. Public Service is a high form of calling that requires the best people available to help form the distinct administrative class and to act always according to the law and precedents established. It is outstanding and strives to succeed in its endeavours.

Nigeria’s Public Service comprises in summary, the civil service, special purpose bodies, and local authorities. It equally ranked as a service, for the purpose of pensions, gratuity and severance.

The Role Of Public Service

The role of public service has remained envitable in enhancing the overall objectives of the state and the promotion of sustainable development and governance. The structure of the public service which has changed persistency ast various times, are effort to meet the growing challenges and their inevitable roles in the state.

However, the primary role of public service is to deliver certain necessary and essential services, which ordinarily cannot be delivered by the private sector. Public service remains outstanding and most successful in providing the leadership and formal organization for the delivery of essential services in the state. Governments actually owe their existence and legitimacy to the fact that there are services in which there exists no possibility for abdication to any other sector. The Public Service equally plays the inevitable role of ordering the affairs of the state, ensuring the combination of command, and control, towards enhancing loyalty and commitment. This is with efforts to generate radical improvement in the effectiveness of governance. It strives to ensure the sustenance of law and order, formulation of policies and supervision of the implementation of government policies. It closely coordinates policies and actions in the state. Ensuring an expedited administration of the state. If further provides the basic regulatory structure for social existence. This role aims at correcting or eliminating inconsistencies, failures, in adequacies and negative tendencies in governance and social existence. It draws the minimum precondition for economic activities and the essential guidelines for social interactions. It builds the institutional framework for the realization of the states objectives.

Public service has glaringly come into existence and flourished with the role of generating and sustaining substantial amount of employment and income to the people. This is relatively extensive to all facets and fulcrum of the state and its social existence. People are engaged in one formed of professional, general, industrial and commercial services for the state, and consequently earn their living through the public service. People are employed in the various ministries and department, through which they render professional and technical services based on their knowledge, experience and expertise.

Definition Of The Civil Service

The civil service is the administrative machinery established by the government to implement the policies and programmes of government. It is an organized body of men and women who are employed on permanent basis into the ministries and departments of government, with the responsibility for the implementation of government policies. It encompasses a group of knowledgeable and skillful draughtsman and professionals who are capable and competent of converting broad understanding in the attainment of the desirable goals of the state.

The civil service is actually a body or organ which enjoys the continuity of existence. It essentially covers the ministries, extra-ministerial departments, bureaucrats and professionals who work in them. It is the major instrument used by the government to implement its policies. Implicitly, the civil service exists as long as there is the existence of government in the state. The bulk of government decisions and actions are influenced and executed by the civil service.

The Nigerian civil service is patterned on the British Civil Service. It has today moved from the colonial generalist civil service to a professionalized civil service. The Nigerian Civil Service is divided into departments or ministries, based on the services they provide and the clientel attachments. The established ministries include, education, finance, defence, foreign affairs, youths, sports and social development, women affairs, petroleum, environment and solid minerals, works and housing, transport and water resources etc. Through these machineries (ministries and departments) the state administers and executes its policies. It is thus, a part and parcel of the political leadership in the state.

The Role Of The Civil Service

Admittedly, the civil service plays very critical and crucial role in the state and society at large. It is an instrument of continuity, stability and veritable resource base for experience and competence in governance. It is an indispensable reservoiur of experience, expertise and loyalty, garnered over decades. It is responsible for the management of the machinery of government and the carrying out of the day to day activities of government. The civil service acts as a control tower for the flow of information. It is a prime source of proposals on a variety of issues moving up to points of political determination.

It supplies the relevant information to the polical class for decision-making and policy formulation. It oversees the mobilization of resources and deployment of competence in the execution of public policies. The Nigerian civil service is adequately equipped to perform its statutory functions. It is a surveyor of public needs, interests and mobilizer of governments’ performance to meeting the needs and the varied interests, it exists as a fountain for ideas of governance and the management of public life. It implements policies decided by the legislature or those designated by the constitution to carry out the executive work of government. It also finds itself, occassionally, performing the function of formulation of policies and giving advice to the government, generally on policy matters.

The civil service hands over the cherished traditions of government form one administration to another. But as in all societies, especially in developing economics, where government plays the lead role in the transformation of the society, the civil service is also seen as a key factor in bringing about rapid socio economics development. It is particularly, a reservoir of vision and dynamism of the state and its governance, promoting peace, unity, tranquility, stability, social order and the greatness of the state.

The civil service also assists in drafting the laws which are designed to carry out the desired programmes of government and the maintenance of law and order in the society, it is equally responsible for the enforcement of government decisions, orders and laws.

Clarifications Between Public Servie and Civil Service

According to Ogunna (1989) the term “public service is different from civil service”. While civil service is seen as a body of permanent employees who work in government ministries and departments charged with the duty of exercising the executive authority of government. Public service refers to the entire body of personnel who are employed by the public establishments and paid from the public funds. They include the civil service, services of the public corporations and government owned companies, armed forces, Para military organizations and police, educational institution established by the government (Ibezim 1998) corroborated by holding the view that the workers in the civil service are recruited by a quasi autonomous body called the civil service commission on the basis of certain rules and regulations. The public service recruits through boards or commission (civil service commission inclusive) and political considerations. The civil servant is manned by civil servants, public service includes civil servants and other categories of public servants. The differences also hold on the facts that civil service is exclusively made up of the ministries and government departments, the public service.

Similarities And Dismiliarities Between Public Service And Private Service

It is apparent that every effort to ascertain the differences and similarities between public service and private service, would involve a comparison of the two on a scheme of analyses, which comprises the characteristics that are common and uncommon to both. However, such characteristics include:

1. Motivation

Observably, the ultimate interest of public service is economy and efficiency of service to the public. The private service holds the interest to maximum financial reward, the private service is grossly concerned with the test economy and efficiency in profit maximization. Every service in the public service is motivated by social and service considerations.

2. Anonymity

This is a pronounced rule in public service, which indicates that the public official does not act in his personal capacity, but as an agent of authority and in virtue of the post he/she occupies in private service, the agent needs to be known in ummistakable manner. It is only when necessary, would it be proper for the public to know the responsible agent to whom enquiries and complaints should be addressed. Impersonality and consistency remains the social and ethical questions that are present in public service, but not in the same degree in the private service.

3. Test Of Efficiency

Actually the concept of efficiency in public and private service is quite different. Problem solving is the spirit that impels public service, while competition spurs private service to action. Test of efficiency are glaringly lacking in public service. But financial profit is the test of efficiency in private service.

Okenwa and Ugbo (2001) opined that there is no strict adherence to managerial standards in the pursuit of public service objectives. Private service however, are executed by strictly adhered standards with intent to achieve set objectives. The test of efficiency in public service is sometimes measured by the amount of political support it receives for its services, the private service is determined by the rate of matching expected and actual profit.

Nwatu (2004) holds that public service pursues non quantifiable objectives, law and order political stability and national prosperity, it is difficult to measure its efficiency. The private service involves more risk-taking and output oriented services than the public service which emphasis service in public interest. It is inherently difficult to measure output or efficiency of production in public service. It lacks the bottom line criteria analogous to profit in the private sector.

4. Consciousness Of Community Service

This is the official and essential virtue of public service. The public service is grossly concerned with rendering community service without deriving any financial profit or direct advantage for the services. While the private is more mindful of profit motive and less conscious of community service.

5. Public Responsibility

This role is very much adhered to in public service than it is in the private service. The official action of public servants are often subject to public questioning and security. Any perceived deviations from the correct part might be punishable. The private service can afford to do without its observance. Every activity in the public service holds social implications, which demands a displays of concern to their public responsibility.

6. Accountability

The degree of accountability is high in the private service, which holds tenaciously, the intent to achieve results, then in the public service. The private service is presumed to hold clear avenues of accountability available to it, than the public service which is seen as nobody’s business.

The public service has different form of accountability from the private service. The private service is theoretically accountable to the shareholder, the public service is accountable to the political leadership, parliament public and various judicial systems.

7. Organization And Employment Practice

The public service is characterized by an organization, uner the formal control of political leadership based strictly on hierachical model of bureaucracy, staffed by permanent, neutral and anonymous officials; motivated by public interest, serving any governing party equally. Public service greatly restricts the freedom of the individual by the bureaucratic command, and discipline is readily interpreted as conformity with regulations. It is is a value in the organization of the public service.

The private service is greatly flexible in organizational structure and staffing, it moves away from bureaucratic structures towards decentralization; to devolution of real authority to lower levels as profit centers. It holds increased emphasis on performance and speedy response, instead of rigid hierachical structures.

It is also seen that public servants attempt to maximize their own utility, that is, they aim to increase their own power, prestige, security and income, by using the hierachical structure for their own ends, instead of advancing the goals of the sector. This practice is relatively different with the practice in the private service. The public service holds sheer size and diversiting which makes any control of coordination to be difficult.

8. Monopoly Conditions

The monopoly conditions are usual and more prevalent in the public service than the private service. The services rendered by the government are usually more amenable to monopoly. The different organs of government do not compete for function or services as observed in the private service.

Equally, public service decisions are coercivem and citizens are forced to comply with sanctions. The public service derive their powers from the coercive powers of the state. The coercive element is not present in the private sector. The private service has great freedom to be arbitrary.

9. Commodity/Services Produced

Emphatically, the product or services of the private service are subject to pricing, while those of the public service, are less amenable to market price mechanism. Such public services like health, defence, and the media are less quantifiable in market price mechanism.

10. Openness Of Action And Availability Of Information

Public services make to all information about its activities readily available to the citizens. There exists in the public services, a special communication system to convey information to the public on their activities. The openness of action and information is not found with the modes of operation of Private Services.

This therefore, implies that, the Public service must cope with an outsiders agende, largely set by the Political Leadership and the political community. The public services have to follow political agenda which is absent with Private Services.

11. Compression And Innovation

The strategies and tactics engaged in public service are implicit with political consideration while, the private service holds market invocation as its implicit interest.

12. Consistency Of Treatment

Consistency of service is a hallmark and watchword of public service. The public official is duty-bound by law to give the same and equal treatment to individual and citizens of the state. The official in the private service is more at liberty to please himself as to whom special consideration may be given.

13. Large Scale Operation

This phenomenon exists in the public and private service. There are large and small operations in both public and private service.

Suggested Posts: