Former Head of Service in Imo State, who has also retired as Commissioner in the Federal Civil Commission, Mrs. Ijeoma Umez Eronini, has lamented the current decay in Nigeria’s civil service system.
She said the burning desire and passion during and after her civil service career compelled her to write the book: The Nigeria Civil Service and Service Delivery.
The book launch in Abuja, attracted the former Governor of Imo State, Chief Achike Udenwa, the Chairman Nigeria Population Commission (NPC), Mr. Eze Duruiheoma SAN, the Governorship flag bearer of PDP and former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha, represented by Dr. Sony Onwuleha and other eminent dignitaries from across the country.
The author of the book averred that civil service is the instrument with which governments at all levels distribute services to the people and therefore must not be diluted with politics, stressing that the service is the foundation and the engine room of governance.
While lamenting the decay in the system, she said: “The civil service of today is totally dilapidated and something has to be done to reclaim it, it is not the role of the government in power to change you or instruct the civil servants on what they should do.
“What you do is in continuity, you start, continue and move forward and handover through appropriate succession it should not be left behind and somebody truncates it. With due respect, politics is a major albatross in service delivery but it is the choice of the civil servants to keep it whole. This is the essence of the book.” she added.
According to her, the colonial masters handed over the service to Nigerians but was truncated with the incursion of the military into politics, explaining that it is civil servants that must wake up to fix it through its anonymity, loyalty, expertise, accountability, transparency, no tribe and no religion.
On the albatross confronting the service, she said: “Somehow we the civil servants contributed to the decay of the civil service but there is a remedy and the book identifies the various flaws that have existed in the service over the years.
“Why they it has tended to decay as reforms have come and more will still come but must accept to reform yourself because when you don’t accept to reform whom you are there is nothing anybody from outside can do for you. It is we the civil servants that will build the civil service.
“So, the essence of the book is to look at the past, the present and the contemporary service and think about the solution. We should look at our role, have we done what we are supposed to do.
“We should know that the civil service is the bedrock on it governance builds its blocks, the building blocks are laid over the function of the civil service, if you have a shaky civil service your blocks will collapse , it impartial, anonymous, professional, discipline loyal, patriotic, transparent, accountable and is in continuity.”
The author, said she is worried with the lack of succession plans in the service, adding that if if there is appropriate succession plan, there won’t be truncation of the system. She lamented the corruption and nepotism where people are brought into the service through what she called ‘windows and louvers.’
In his remark, Udenwa commended the author for her passion in the civil service career, having rose through the ladder to the zenith. The former governor, added that it was her hard work that made him chose her in 1999 as Head of Service in the state above every other candidates without any external influence.
Udenwa, public servants and urged state governments across the country to buy the book, stressing that Umez Eronini has encapsulated the secret that will take the service to the next level.
In her contribution,Dame Julie Nwariaku, in her opening remarks also poured encomiums on the author for drawing attention to the missing link in Nigeria’s service delivery, adding: “I want to give credit to Mrs. Eronini for drawing all us here today it can only take a woman of stature, excellence an achiever to do this.
“Through hard work she rose to the zenith of career and decided to put down her experience in writing in a book that will move the service forward.”
According to Nwariaku, part of the problem of the civil service is the lack of proper succession and handing over of functions. While acknowledging the book as a manual in service, she said: Umez Eronini served when the service has not been adulterated and she gave it her all. She delivered and today she has been able to document her thoughts so that the civil service should grow and begin to deliver service.”