The Director-General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) Dr. Joe Abah has said that his greatest achievement has been to demonstrate that with determination and the perquisite skills the needed change in the way government business is done in Nigeria is possible.
Dr. Abah who made this known during a valedictory interview session anchored by Dr. Tolu Ogunlesi, Special Assistant to the President on Digital and New Media in Abuja recently, said that the recommendations made after the study done by the Bureau on constraints to obtaining Drivers Licence, International Passport, National Identity Card and Tax Clearance Certificate is yielding fruits as people can now apply for these services from the comfort of their bedrooms.
He however expressed regrets over the proliferation of agencies and parastatals, saying that the National Assembly who have the absolute powers to create these agencies should consolidate all the functions that are duplicated and have a conversation on which ones to collapse. He further said that in creating agencies emphasis should be on delivery and that they should be fit for purpose as having too many agencies will only cause the scarce resources to be spread too thin.
On the issue of merger, the DG noted that the driving principle is to try to make an organization a better one instead of trying to cut cost. He opined that if about 10 agencies are doing well, the Scio-economic situation in Nigeria will not only improve but the moral of workers will also be improved. He further advised that the tenure of Chief Executives of such agencies be based on merit and the ability to perform only.
Dr. Abah also expressed regret that the work that was started on Police Reforms for which an MOU had been signed with foreign donors to see how contact between citizens and the police can be better is inconclusive.
On the issue of government information machinery, the DG said the government needs to do more. According to him, government has to make a deliberate effort so that the citizens can understand and appreciate the workings of government. He, however expressed delight that Nigeria is among the League of Nations who have joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
Similarly, he said that the desire to see that people are sufficiently informed about the budgeting process led to the birth of the book: Citizens Guide to Budgeting. A piece of work produced by the Bureau with active collaboration from the Budget Office and sponsored by the Right to know (R2K) an NGO supported by the MacArthur Foundation.
The question on how he found the time to be active on twitter and if the tempo will be the same, Dr. Abah said it was not easy but there was the need to keep the large audience occasioned by the medium informed about the reforms government was making, bearing in mind that those who drive reforms seldom explain them, so it behooves on BPSR to explain the technicalities in the way that can be understood. He disclosed that he will continue to comment on government but the tempo will be reduced.
On what advice he had for young people, the DG observed that in spite of the low level of confidence in the government, the youth should believe that some things can still work and that nobody will stop anyone chasing the right objectives.
When asked how it feels that this is his last days in office, Dr. Abah said he will always be involved since reform has always been his life’s work even in the 16 years of his working career in the UK. The DG said he will miss the level of access he had as a DG and his staff, the best hands that any Chief Executive would want to work with. He also expressed happiness that he will have more time for his family and intellectual work and jokingly chipped that he was available for hire.