Civil Service faces existential crisis as consulting firms take over its core functions -Prof. Olaopa

Hon. Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC), Prof. Tunji Olaopa (M) with Yobe State Head of Civil Service-Alhaji M. Hamidu Alhaji (L) and Chairman Yobe State-CSC, Gagarau Isa Bizi (R) on a courtesy visit Prof. Olaopa on Thursday.
Hon. Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC), Prof. Tunji Olaopa (M) with Yobe State Head of Civil Service-Alhaji M. Hamidu Alhaji (L) and Chairman Yobe State-CSC, Gagarau Isa Bizi (R) on a courtesy visit Prof. Olaopa on Thursday.

The Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC), Prof. Tunji Olaopa has said that civil service unknowingly faces an existential crisis as consulting firms, external policy experts and think tanks have taking over its core functions, due to low institutional capability readiness of MDAs.

He explained that public officers are carried away by empty held powers as accounting officers and chief administrative officers where civil service in Nigeria currently demonstrate palpable evidence of the worst kinds of bureaucratic corruption largely due to institutional weaknesses that enable officers to exploit systemic loopholes.

Olaopa stated this when a team from Yobe State Civil Service Commission (Yobe State-CSC) jointly led by Yobe State Head of Service, Alhaji M. Hamidu and Yobe State-CSC-Chairman Gagarau Isa Bizi in company of Yobe State-CSC Commissioners who paid him a courtesy visit.

He told the delegation that he was not in support of a change in service year from 35years to 40years and retirement age from 60 years to 65 years because those organizations like judiciary workers, university’s lecturers as well as primary and secondary school teachers granted this extension have professionals whose experience are very invaluable and not easily replaceable unlike what is obtained in civil service where this is not the case. He further said that civil service needs reforms to modernize its service which requires needs young and vibrant youth that are innovative.

He emphasized that the breakdown of inherited internal management controls systems that requires reforms to beef up bureaucratic efficiency and modernize the service standard operation practices are weak as well as disciplinary processes and appeals procedures are comatose.

He asserts that the philosophical construct of the first principle of the Civil Service Commission as founded by the British in 1855 has been compromised in Nigeria based on the way the Commission is carrying out its work in the country.

He added: “We have compromised merit not just on the altar of federal character diversity management praxis. We did in the way we submit our constitutional independence helplessness to the whims and caprices of our political lord and masters, largely because, as professionals, we have lost the capacity to speak truth to power.

While commending the team for their efforts in advancing the lots of civil service in the State, the Chairman opined that, merit have been emasculated and replaced with political patronage and unreflective nepotism which has inexorably destroyed the gatekeeping essence of the Commission’s constitutional mandate as the protector and defender of the merit system, the institutional bulwark and guarantor of professionalism in policy and development management; and also almost irreparably destroyed competency-based human resource management.

As he mentioned the dearth of innovation in the service, he revealed that the British who transplanted the service commission concept to Nigeria and other Commonwealth countries have injected creativity and innovations in their public service and people management practices. He called for the rethinking of the Commission in line with global best practices; stressing that a system that rely on Annual Performance Reporting (APER) system measures nothing concrete.

Olaopa explained to the team that service deluded itself that its continuity essence and platform will midwife a reformed public administration as Nigeria navigates the fourth and fifth industrial revolution.

According to him, as part of efforts to reform the Service, the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) is carefully putting together some intervention programs to activate a new set of ideas, strategies, instruments and innovations that FCSC will share with State Civil Service Commissions and other Service Commissions. He said that the 2024 Conference of the National Council of Civil Service Commission that is coming up later in the year is one the veritable platform for sharing and learning. While the National Conference of the Civil Service Commission at 70 to hold later in the year will be another platform.

Olaopa enjoined Yobe State-CSC team to work assiduously towards uplifting the Service as all us: “…cannot afford to fail in our onerous generational responsibility especially with the opportunity afforded by the President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda. All hands should be on deck to get the civil service to be part of the game changing that is playing up”.

Speaking earlier, Yobe State Head of Service, Alhaji M. Hamidu Alhaji appreciated the Hon. Chairman for receiving them and said their coming to the Commission was a way to see how the State’s Commission can improve his service delivery. In his remark, the Chairman Yobe State-CSC, Gagarau Isa Bizi said coming to the Commission was to interact and share experience with Commission on ways to advance the State’s Commission and also, the desire to study the peculiarities and best practices of Federal Commission. He added that coming to FCSC was eye opener to them based on the information gathered from the Chairman. He equally disclosed that there was no employment embargo in Yobe State Civil Service and every local government is ably represented in the Service.

Seeking clarifications on various public administration issues from the Commission, Gagarau said the FCSC interventions were needed on the issues of succession, capacity building, change in service year from 35years to 40years and adjustment in retirement age from 60years to 65years as well as mode of assessment and promotion from one salary grade level to another.
He, therefore, called for synergy between State Civil Service Commission across the country and the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) in order to engender virile civil service.

Taiwo Hassan
Head (Press & Public Relations).