Civil Service Reforms Failed Because of ‘Execution Traps’, Says Olaopa

Tunji Olaopa
Tunji Olaopa

By Kemi Olaitan in  Ibadan

A retired Permanent Secretary in the Federal Civil Service, Prof. Tunji Olaopa, Tuesday laid the blame for the failure of various attempts at civil service reforms on what he described as “execution traps.”

Olaopa said this while delivering the 10th inaugural lecture of the Lead City University, Ibadan,  titled, “Big Bad Bureaucracy?  Reinventing the Bureaucracy as a New Public Service in Nigeria”.

He said the reforms which were done with good intentions failed not because of design flaws, but rather due to the fundamental conception-reality gap that ensures that the local condition and environment of administration in Nigeria always work contrary to the intent and trajectory of reforms.

He maintained that constructive transformation was required to facilitate the maximisation of the potentials of the civil service.

Olaopa stated that this requires decisive transitions with multiple programmes that project significant outcomes  capable of adding up to ignite massive multiplier effect that converge to jump-start the national economy into an envisioned new developmental state.

He said,  “To drive any meaningful transformation would require a transformational leadership with capacity to take strategies and implementation actions through continuous adaptation to overcome obstacles and exploit opportunities. This is necessary because it takes a transformational leader to locate the missing link between existing  public service mission, management culture and the public interest and to act decisively with forceful political will.”

Olaopa who is also the Executive Vice-Chairman of Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP),  while praising the sterling contributions of pioneer Public Administrators such as Chief Simeon Adebo and Prof. Adebayo Adedeji, further argued that the transformational leadership are necessary to facilitate government efficiency and the nation’s progress.

He however made a strong case for the modernisation of the civil service beyond its present operational and strategic rearrangement and reconfigurations but through the re-enactment of the ideal of what it means to be a civil or public servant.

The former federal permanent secretary insisted that it would go a long way in reiterating the essence of service through distinct programme that incorporates professionalism, re-professionalisation and the incorporation of ethics and spirituality into the service.