100 Days: Gov Sule And Reforms In The Civil Service

BY Rayyanu Bala
Precisely one and half months ago, the committee set up by the
Nasarawa state governor, Engr. Abdullahi Alhaji Sule, to look into
ways of reforming and re-structuring the state civil service under the
headship of a retired permanent secretary in the state’s civil
service, Mr. Silas Jarumi Dachor, submitted its reports to the
governor with far reaching recommendations which in the estimation of
the committee if implemented, will go a long way in putting the
state’s civil service on right footing.
Amongst some of the reasons advanced by the government for setting up
of the committee were, redundancy and lack of productivity on the part
of workers on government’s pay roll; and the government wanted the
committee to find ways to make the workers productive. Indeed, no one
will fault the intention of government on reforming and restructuring
the state civil service to regain its lost glory; in the same breath,
no one can absolutely deny that some workers in Nasarawa state pay
little attention to their jobs, thus making them rather unproductive.
Yes, all discerning minds cannot but appreciate the concern of
Governor Sule about some untoward happenings in the state’s civil
service just as no responsible governor would sit down and watch hands
akimbo while workers who are supposed to be the engine room of
government exit productive benchmark.
Thus, on the one hand, nobody can fault Governor Sule’s efforts thus
far towards restoring the lost glory of the state’s civil service
while on the other hand also, nobody can dismiss as spectral the claim
that most workers in the state are unproductive. Only recently
Governor Sule was pushed to a state of astonishment when he came face
to face with the level of decay in the state civil service during his
unscheduled visits to some MDA’s as workers failed to report to their
duty posts as at the time of his visit at about 8.45am. No right
thinking person will defend a situation where a worker on government’s
pay roll who is supposed to report to the office by 8a.m fails to be
at his duty even at 8.45am. It is the height of indiscipline for a
worker to lazy about comfortably in his house knowing fully well that
he ought to be in the office at that time, doing what he is being paid
to do.
However, it is a gross error for one to assume that the existing
laxity in the state’s civil service is as a result of duplication of
functions in some MDA’s or for one to assume that sloppiness of
workers towards their jobs is responsible for redundancy and
unproductiveness in the state’s civil service.
Any keen observer of events in Nasarawa state will notice that the
trouble with Nasarawa state civil service started in 1999 when the
civilian administration barred all MDA’s from incurring their own
expenditures. To put it in a layman’s language, stopping MDAs from
incurring expenditures simply means that all the ministries and
parastatals cannot expend what is in their annual budget. By this
action all the MDA’s were at the mercy of the governor; only the
governor has the prerogative of expending what belongs to MDA’s. This
policy has adversely affected the smooth running of ministries and
parastatals in the state. This is in addition to the issue of
government engaging services of ‘consultants’. Today virtually all
major Jobs in the state are being managed and supervised by
‘consultants’. Jobs that are ordinarily supposed to be managed and
supervise by civil servants have been taken over by the consultants.
Workers in some line ministries have horrible stories to tell
regarding this.
Since 1999 all successive administration in the state follows the same
pattern of not allowing MDA’s incur their expenditures and the same
pattern of engaging consultants to supervise and manage projects while
civil servants who are statutorily responsible for supervising and
managing these projects are left to idle away. In fact the scenario
got to such level that in Nasarawa state, a commissioner cannot spend
a kobo of the whole budget allocation for his ministry. The situation
is like this: ‘A governor will award a contract and get a consultant
to manage and supervise the project’. Now tell me, how can you expect
a worker to be productive with this type of arrangement? Whether we
accept it or not, these type of arrangements have adversely affected
workers productivity in the state.
The second issue that brought about declining productivity in Nasarawa
state civil service has to do with the absence of incentives to
workers. What a civil servant holds dear is his promotion; once you
take away his promotion you inadvertently expose him to all sort of
gimmickry.
Workers’ promotions have never been regular in Nasarawa state. You
will discover that a worker spends eight to ten years in one grade
level. Annual salary increment seizes to exist. Apart from promotion
and annual increment, there are also challenges of civil servants’
empowerment which workers are forced to contend with for years in the
state. For example, vehicle loan, furniture loan, even in-service
allowance which civil servants of bygone years used to enjoy have long
disappeared in the state. These challenges, if we are to tell
ourselves the home truth, are what brought about inertia in the state
civil service.
For Governor Abdullahi Sule to realize his dream of infusing
efficiency and hard work into the civil service of Nasarawa state, he
must go beyond reforming and restructuring of MDA’s and streamlining
of their functions.
His efforts must incorporate regular and timely promotions of civil
servants, regular and timely salary increment, regular and timely
releases of vehicle and furniture loan to civil servants,
comprehensive package for civil servants willing to go for in-service
training and above all, MDA’s must be free to incur expenditures in
line and in conformity with financial regulations. Anything short of
this, will be an exercise in futility and the desire of government to
see a vibrant civil service will continue to be an optical illusion.

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