Civil Service And National Development In Nigeria


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1.1       Background of the study

The quest for attainment of national development has become very imperative in almost all nations of the world, especially countries of the south otherwise regarded as Third World Countries, which our country Nigeria is never left out. Today in Nigeria, it is obvious that many symbols of development are lacking, precisely access to good roads, portable water, health institutions, adequate education and a stable power supply (electricity) to mention but a few. The polity is characterized by unemployment and lack of infrastructure among others (underdevelopment).

Civil Service And National Development In Nigeria

Given this level of underdevelopment in the country, the Nigeria civil service has been recognized as viable tool and workforce for enhancing development in the polity. In view of this, Asiodu (1970) rightly observed; “We have seen that the task of government today In a developing country like Nigeria is even more Immense and are unique and must be performed Satisfactory. The executive arm of government is The civil service. The effectiveness of a government is to a very great extent determined by the efficiency and competency of the civil service. The higher civil service indeed plays a crucial role in that, it participates fully in the formulation of policy and at the same time, responsible for the execution of agreed policies”.   

Civil Service And National Development In Nigeria

He also posited that:

“The civil service in Nigeria is increasingly required to prepare development plans to appraise and select industrial and agricultural projects, to decide when new roads, rail ways, harbour bridges or Telecommunication facilities should be constrained and the optimum size of investments in the projects at any given time in the light of carefully analyzed projections demands and on the basis of cost/benefit analysis”.

He added that:

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“Modern government is a vast business whose activities directly impinge on the lives of every citizen in the country. It is often the largest employer and disposer of large portion of national product. Its decisions directly affect the rate of growth of the national economy. It is essential that it should function effectively. The executive arm is the civil service”.

Stemming from Asiodu’s view, it may be agreed that the Nigeria civil service is charged with the responsibility of charting the course of development through the institution, by formulation and implementation of policies, programmes and projects for developmental purposes.

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Civil Service And National Development In Nigeria

The Nigeria civil service has its origins in organizations established by the British in colonial times. Nigeria gained full independence in October 1960 under a constitution that provided for a parliamentary government and a substantial measure of self-government for the country’s three regions. Since then, various panels have studies and made recommendations for reforming of the civil service, including the Margan Commission of 1963, the Adebo Commission of 1971 and the Udoji commission of 1972-74.

A major change occurred with the adoption of 1979 of a constitution modeled on that the United States. The Dotum Philips panel of 1985 attempted to reform the civil service. The was a major impact on the structure and efficiency of the civil service by General Ibrahim Babangida in 1988. The civil service has been undergoing gradual and systematic reforms and restructuring since May 29, 1999 after decades of Military rule. However, the civil service is still considered stagnant and inefficient, and the attempts made in the past by panels have had little effect.

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Civil Service And National Development In Nigeria

Moreover, in August 2009, the Head of the civil service Stephen Osagiede Oronsaye, proposed reforms where permanent secretaries and directors would spend a maximum of eight years in office. The reform approved by President Umaru Yar’Adua, would result in massive retirement of permanent secretaries and Directors, many of whom are from the North. According to Stephen Oronsaye, his goal is for the Nigerian civil service to be among the best organized and managed in the world. He retired in November 2010 at the statutory age of 60 and was succeeded by Oladapo Afolabi.

Therefore, it is ideal to look at the significance and role of the civil service in the process, articulate the problems that have affected its performance, as it has been observed that the civil service is the apparatus that translates programmes and decisions of the political class into concrete realities.


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