While speaking at the Year 2016 Public Service Day held on June 23, 2016, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State reaffirmed the important roles public servants have played in the execution of major well-thought programmes embarked upon by his administration.
In his words, “the Ogun State Civil Service has remained as an indispensable partner to the current administration in the State resulting in the monumental success so far recorded in the area of socio-economic development.”
The governor noted that the success or failure of any government largely depended on its relationship with the workforce, admitting that though the economy of the nation was not buoyant; his government would not relent in providing better welfare package for the workers.
Amosun, therefore, urged civil servants in the State to desist from acts that could sabotage the efforts of the government and assured that his administration would continue to create conducive environment for development.
The Governor equally promised that his administration would intensify on training and re-training of workers, as he charged all public servants to play their parts by supporting the government in its rebuilding mission.
Earlier in his welcome address, the State Head of Service, Elder Olusola Adeyemi, thanked the state government for giving workers the opportunity to celebrate one another, appraise their past efforts and look to the future with hope.
He said the occasion was an avenue to appraise the achievements of the civil/public service, through the years. It was also an opportunity of finding new approaches towards improving the efficiency, effectiveness and professionalism of the service.
The guest lecturer, Chief Oluneye Okuboyejo, said in his speech, that for the public service to act as an agent of positive change, discipline must be strictly enforced, service delivery must be accorded priority, corruption must be eliminated, and accountability must be sustained.
Okuboyejo, Emeritus Permanent Secretary, legal practitioner and Chairman, Association of Retired Heads of Service and Permanent Secretaries, Ogun State, noted that the public service must imbibe new and modern management techniques that will enhance service delivery and optimum utilization of resources.
In his paper: “The Public Service – An Agent of Positive Change”, the guest lecturer noted that in order to achieve the public service of our dream and make it more purpose-driven, development-oriented, merit-based, customer-friendly and pro-active agent of change and in tandem with the aspirations and philosophy of the present political dispensation, the remuneration package in the various public services should be enhanced to reflect the cost of living and inflationary trends.
Okuboyejo was also of the opinion that the service should be de-politicized, and civil servants who wish to opt for partisan politics should be made to resign or retire from the service.
“In view of the prevailing harsh economic circumstances whereby many state governments are unable to meet their salary obligations, it is expedient for public servants to start thinking out of the box, by coming up with viable proposals on how to curb leakages/wastages as well as propose measures on how to enhance internal revenue generation capacities of their respective employers. Public servants must continue to display excellent work ethics by avoiding counterproductive activities, and by ensuring that they put in a full day’s job for a full day’s pay”, he counselled.
Governor Amosun has been giving tremendous support and inspiration to the entire Ogun State public service since his assumption of the mantle of governance of the state in May 2011.
In spite of all odds, the Ogun State public service has continued to soar higher, thereby occupying a pre-eminent position, among the comity of public services in Nigeria.
This is a feat that has been boosted by the enabling environment fostered by Governor Amosun.
The welfare of the workers – public servants – has been paramount to Amosun’s government. To demonstrate its commitment to the welfare of the workers, Ogun was one of the first states to implement the new minimum wage across board in Nigeria.
The state had set the base as N18, 250 which is more than the national minimum wage. It also ensures timely payment of workers’ salaries. Indeed, Ogun is one of the few states that have survived the biting economic challenge occasioned by the dwindling allocation from the Federal Government which has made it impossible for many of the states of the Federation to pay their workers’ salary.
On its part, Ogun has been paying salaries as and when due.
The Amosun’s government has been appreciating the invaluable contributions of its workforce, who have been the reliable, dependable and ever-supportive landlords in the past five years.
No doubt, they are the tower of the strength of the government, and together they shall continue to lift Ogun State to its enviable heights among the comity of States in Nigeria, and indeed, the entire world.
Recently, the Ogun State Government commissioned a total of 160 units of 2 and 3 bedroom detached and semi-detached bungalows and storey-building as part of efforts at providing affordable housing for its workforce.
Wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari while commissioning the phase 1 of the Estate, named after the first Head of Service in the State, Chief Adedotun Adedeji Kayode Degun (AAK Degun MITROS Estate) located in Laderin, Abeokuta, lauded the state government for its commitment at making life comfortable for the workers.
Mrs Buhari, who was represented by Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, while unveiling the plaque, commended the vision of the Senator Ibikunle Amosun-led administration in providing standard housing units for the state’s civil servants, while also urging the state workers to continue in supporting the mission to rebuild the state.
She added that the construction of the edifice estate was a remarkable achievement for the present administration in the housing sector, noting that the initiative would have great impact on the socio-economic development of the state and the country at large.
Governor Amosun on his part, said that the workers’ estate would reduce the hardship civil of servants in having home of their own, adding that the gesture would avail them the opportunity to access decent homes at affordable cost.
He added that the project was part of his mandate on Home Ownership which seeks to deliver fully serviced homes to hundred families within its workforce.
The governance of a state is not a sole responsibility of the elected representatives. It is quite evidential that these elected officials play major roles to enhance development since policies emanates and seek approval from them.
Behind the scene are the various civil servants in the public institutions. Nation building is the process of using state power to develop the state.
Good governance which results in development of a state depends on the actions and inactions of the public servants.
A Public servant is someone who works in public institution. More specifically a civil servant is someone who works at the administrative organ of government who is charged with the responsibility of implementing government policies.
The public service institution plays a very vital role in the governance and the development of the people in the state. The health, safety, education and the general well-being of the citizens is done by these many service providers.
The roles they play are very significant that they cannot be removed from office when there is change in government, unlike the elected officials who have tenure of office and can be removed from office anytime. The continuity and permanence of civil servants is very relevant and hence the need to always remain politically neutral.
Loyalty is very significant for the civil service to ensure good governance and development. Total loyalty is very essential for the achievement of purpose for every government. Remaining loyal to any political party and not being partisan will ensure implementation of good and sound policies.
Neutrality of civil servants promotes objectivity and solid advice to any political party that wins power. The structure of the civil service include various professional and technical expertise who advice government on where, when and how to implement particular policies. Partisan civil service will not give accurate and logistics for a party he/she or belongs to hence the need for all civil service institutions and workers to remain neutral so that they can give out their best to any political party in power and the country at large.
A major significant of neutrality of civil servant is, there is going to be a reduction of interference in the promotion and dismissal etc. of public servants.
Nigeria over the years suffers from political interference in the public service especially during promotion of individuals to higher office.
Promotion should be based on qualification, experience, innovativeness and not bearing of party cards. If such appointments turn partisan it means people capable of holding key public positions will not get the opportunity. Civil servants remaining neutral will reduce the tension and irregularities especially when a new government will have to choose persons to occupy top hierarchy in the service.
There will be no share of blame if a government fails to deliver well. Remaining politically neutral means civil/public servants give out their best equally to any party in power the elected official will then be responsible to the electorate for their success or failure. Political neutrality enhances effective job performance in the outcome in the civil service. It promotes fairness and even distribution and competence on the part of civil servants in the performance of their duties.
The neutrality of civil servants in the dispensation of their duties is very paramount in the development of every state. Civil servants have a longer tenure of office as compared to the elected officials. Workers must do well to serve any government without fear intimidation and favour.
Government come and go but the public/civil service always remain because of the role it plays in improving livelihood of the people.
As noted by Okuboyejo, “to be able to perform their roles effectively, public/civil servants are expected to carry out faithfully, the policies and decisions of the government in power, observe silence and be discrete as to what takes place in the office, and must resist illegitimate political demands and pressures”.
Governor Amosun has tackled the economy of Ogun State with a single-minded dedication and abundant courage. The restructuring of the economy is not something that can be accomplished in five short years even if it does not require eternity to do it. But on balance, even the most unfair critics cannot deny he has tried.
-Durojaiye, a former Editor of Daily Independent Newspaper, Lagos, is Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to Governor Amosun.