At Adegoroye’s book launch, El-Rufai, others seek radical reform of federal civil service
…Challenges Kingibe, top civil servants to document service experiences
THAT the present Federal and States Governments inherited an empty treasury, a huge debt burden, an over bloated and imbalanced civil service, provides a veritable opportunity to reform and restructure the institution for enhanced development in line with the change mantra, an honest political leadership would drive the process.
This position was unequivocally drummed yesterday in Abuja at the public presentation of the two-volume books titled ‘Restoring Good Governance in Nigeria’, written by Goke Adegoroye, a former Permanent secretary in the Federal Civil service, that the civil service is presently enmeshed in pervasive corruption, which needs to be reformed in all its facets.
The chairman of the occasion, Governor of Kaduna State Nasir El-Rufai said the poor financial state of the country provides the right occasion for renewal and reform, noting that the monetary state of affairs is not the making of the governors or President Muhammadu Buhari, but the reorganization of the entire system would enhance the desired development.
“The Civil service should reform itself, I think the opportunity is now, the country is broke…the treasury is empty, debts are at 70 billion dollars, the country must reform its governing system.
“26 states cannot pay salaries, many of those states have found themselves with realities beyond their control, this is the reality on ground, which means hard decisions must be taken. It is therefore the opportunity for the entire governance structure and machinery of government, to be rebuilt, and I think particularly the civil service is key in guiding this renewal,”
Mallam El-Rufai said while touching of his experience in the civil service.
He added said the political leadership of a country determines how the civil service operates, despite the existence of bad elements.
He said “realized that a large percentage of public servants are really good people that want to do good, but are constrained by the circumstances that they are forced to operate. And often, with good leadership, by example, by those at the helm of affairs most public servants would align with the vision of political leadership to achieve results.
“There is a minority that is beyond salvage, in the system there is such a minority, but it is our duty to be honest with ourselves and get them out. The difficulty I had with the civil service is the tendency to protect that evil minority. We have a saying in Hausa which when translated says, a small quantity of beans is enough to spoil a large quantity of grains. This is the problem personally I had as an outsider, my advise to senior civil servants here today, is that if you want this institution to survive, you must learn to get rid of that evil minority,” he said.
He noted that three institutions in a country, the political leadership, career public servants and the religious leaders must align for any country to make meaningful progress. “we need these three institutions and they will not align unless there is a way of keeping each institutions honest.
“For us that are politicians, free and fair elections is what will make us honest, you will see over the next four years, there will be fundamental change with the conduct of many political office holders and the reason is simple, because in the last elections, it was clear that votes counted and the voice of the voters mattered more than in anytime in our political history. So without doubt all of us know that with the card readers and PVC (Permanent Voters Card), APC defeated the PDP. So as long as the Card readers and the PVCs still matters, if you don’t do the work of the people”, he said.
He noted that abiding by the rules and regulations of the public service and ensuring that anyone that flaunts the guiding imperatives is dealt without mercy, this would keep the public servant honest.
“This notion of let’s protect our own, no matter how bad they are is the problem of the public service, where the federal service is now, is more troubling, because only those that are in finance, supply, and so on gets to be permanent secretaries these days. The proportion of those in the lines where there is money that become Permanent Secretaries is a major indictment on the federal public service.”
The Kaduna State governor who captured his experience in the civil service in the book he titled “Accidental Civil Servant” challenged other special invited guests at the high table with him, including former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, former Heads of Federal Civil Service Yahyale Ahmed, Steve Oronsaye, Bukar Aji and others, to write books to capture their experiences for posterity and reference purposes.
“Most of us spend many years in the public service but don’t have books, I want to challenge all those including Kingibe to quickly write his book, who has experience in Security and foreign affairs and politics, including June 12.
He described the author as a very honest man, with a passion for Nigeria, who though joined the civil service from the academia but quickly adjusted and assimilated every rule as if he started there.
“He is courageous, but diplomatic, he tells the truth without hurting anybody. I honestly believe that we cannot succeed beyond the capacity and the capability of the civil service.”
In his review, Professor Ladipo Adamolekun said “Adegoroye’s compendium is sharply focused on the machinery of government at the federal level with attention to both the structuring and staffing of the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the civil service in particular and the broader public service (federal government agencies and parastatals) in general.”
Noting that the volume 1, subtitled ‘The Civil Service Pathway” elucidates the challenges inherent in the civil service, albeit are self-inflicted, to include corruption, capacity and integrity, beside the shortcoming in the “existing structure of MDAs and the assignment of