Ex-Head of Service: Decay in Civil Service is Reflection of Society

01 Apr 2013

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Isa Bello Sali

By Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo and Daji Sani in  Yola

The former Head of Federal Civil Service, Alhaji Isa Bello Sali, has said the decay in the civil service was a true reflection of the decay in the nation’s society, stressing that the civil service does not operate outside its society.

Sali’s remark coincided with a similar verdict by the former Head of Service of the Federation, Professor Oladapo Afolabi, who said the poor standard of education in the country was traceable to the free education policy introduced in some states of the federation.
But Sali, who fielded questions with journalists at Government House in Yola, Adamawa State, at a dinner party organised by the state government to celebrate his 60th birthday and retirement from the Federal Civil Service, said it was unfortunate that some Nigerians were talking about the decay in the service when ordinarily, the decay in the larger society is much worse than what is in the civil service.

According to him, “I can tell you that confidently that the decay in the larger society is far more compared to what people scream at.”
He said the major problem with most institutions in the country was that of leadership, stressing that leaders can only succeed if they lead their followers by example.

“The major issue with most institutions is the issues of leadership, if you want to lead an institution to succeed you have to lead by examples. Leading by example means, for instance, coming to office as early as 8am, let me add by saying that you will only have the moral right to rebuke somebody when you don’t do what you don’t expect him to do,” he added.

Sali, who disclosed that stability and integrity were the vital ingredients that the civil service required to be able to discharge its responsibilities, said what the service required was a qualitative leadership that would usher in professionalism and efficiency.
He urged Nigerian leaders to uphold the fear of God and justice to all times without fear or favour, stating that the fear of God was the needed virtue to achieve such goal.

On the leadership disposition of Sali, the newly appointed Federal Head of Service, Alhaji Bukar Goni Aji, said Sali, who was his boss had left a well structured formation in the civil service, promising to continue on what his predecessor had left behind. 

He applauded the leadership style of Sali, which he said was worthy of emulation, stressing that he would always seek counsel from him. He described Sali as a humble person whom he was proud of, knowing fully-well that they come from the same state (Adamawa).
Speaking at the dinner party, which had sons and daughters of state in attendance, Governor Murtala Nyako, said following the leadership style of the former Federal Head of Service, he received a lot of commendations within and outside the state.

The governor noted that the dinner was meant to encourage hardwork and  to tap into Sali’s wealth of experience for the development of the state, maintaining that: “ It is not wrong to celebrate your children if they are doing well outside.”

Meanwhile, Afolabi, who spoke at a personality interview programme on Unique FM Radio Station in Ilesa, at the weekend, argued that the philosophy of free education had not assisted the nation but in destroying the quality of education in the country.
He former Head of Service, who acknowledged that the nation was not ripe to carry out free education policy, said the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who introduced the free primary education policy was so smart that he did not go beyond primary education because of lack of resources.

Afolabi, who is also the Chairman, Governing Council of Technical University, which is being proposed in Oyo State, opined that the nation did not possess the required resources to embark on free education.

He said any government that introduced free education at all levels in its programme was being economical with the truth, saying there was no way such an administration could achieve it successfully and effectively.

According to him, “we are not very honest with ourselves in this society. Once upon a time when we have an Awolowo who love to give us free primary education, he was so smart that he did not extend it beyond primary education. He knew that beyond that the resources available will not be able to cope but other thinks education will be free at all levels.

He said: “I tell you if you really want to give good quality education, you will be running a budget for any of our universities that is more than N50 billion or N100 billion a year. I don’t think we have such resources. But when you don’t deploy your resources adequately, what do you have, loss of quality and that is what we have now at hand. So whether it is technical, vocational or whatever, as long as it is not properly funded, we produce inferior materials so that is what we really have.

“What we want to correct in the new university by God grace is to have a modest university where we will charge appropriately and people will pay and environment will be okay. So that we can regain that lost glory and quality. We need to be honest with ourselves. In my opinion, education cannot be free but If you can do it and it will be free and quality is there, then I will support that but as far as I am concern, that philosophy of free education destroyed quality of education in Nigeria.
On corruption, Afolabi said the federal government’s war against corruption was weak, urging that the various anti-graft agencies should be overhauled.

He, however, noted that: “There is corruption everywhere in Nigeria every aspect of our society is corrupt but I must say this that the instrument we are using to tackle corruption is too weak and any responsible society or government must tackle corruption headlong.”

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