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THE PUBLIC SECTOR

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THE PUBLIC SECTOR IN NIGERIA

The Nigerian Public Service is a creation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 169 of the Constitution states concisely that: “there shall be a civil service of the Federation” and goes ahead to state the responsibilities of the Head of Government in appointments to political offices and other top positions. This clearly indicates the importance of bureaucracy to the proper conduct of governance. In Nigeria, a Federation, the three tiers of government have independent services governed largely by regulations, rules and laws drawn to guide their operations. Section 318 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria describes the “service of the Federation in a civil capacity as staff of the office of the President, the Vice-President, a ministry or department of Government of the Federation assigned with the responsibility for any business of the Government of the Federation.” In the same vein, the “civil service of a state consists of the staff of the office of the Governor, Deputy-Governor, or a ministry or department off Government assigned the responsibility for any business of the Government of a State.”

The public service is the bureaucratic wing of Government and has the responsibility of formulating and implementing policies and programmes of Government.  It deals with governance, economic growth, trade, education, healthcare, famine relief and various strategies for the improvement of the living standard of the citizenry. Governments manage their affairs and services like education, health, social services and other sectors through an elaborate civil service system.  It is generally believed that Nigeria is richly endowed with immense natural and human resources that can take her to the realm of a developed Nation. What has been lacking is good management of those resources. The Civil Service is a due process organization, relying and operating on rules and regulations.

The origin of the Nigerian civil service is traceable to the cession of Lagos to the colonialists in 1861and was conceived as an apparatus or instrument of British rule, to serve British interests. It was structured into the senior service echelon, occupied by the colonialists and the junior service positions occupied by Nigerians. This position remained so until 1945 when feverish agitation by Nigerian nationalists saw Nigerians entering the senior service with the acquisition of higher education which prepared them for future leadership positions. Gradually, Nigerians began to take over the functions of the colonialists until the civil service and all other organs of government were completely indigenized. The history of the Public Service in Nigeria dates back to the colonial period; what became a major attempt in establishing a central Public Service emanated from the acceptance of the Nigerianisation Report of 1st January, 1949. Later, a Caretaker Central Public Service Commission was constituted on 3rd May, 1952 under the provision of Section 169 of the Nigeria Order-in-Council (Constitution) of 1951. The Federal Public Service Commission was established on 1st April, 1954 through a provision under section 174 of the Nigeria Order-in-Council (Constitution) of 1954.

The public service is the bedrock upon which the government is seated and balanced. It is the hub for the implementation of programmes, policies, plans and actions of government. More importantly, the public service is the vehicle for service delivery and governance. The quality of the public service largely determines the pace of development of any nation. This is because of the crucial role public servants play in the formulation and implementation of programmes or manifestoes of political parties whose candidates are elected to govern. In the true sense of it, the civil service exists to propel development.More than ever before, global activities have been directed at development in an increasingly inter-dependent world. The era of globalization makes it imperative for the civil service to play its crucial role of acting as the agent and potent vehicle of development. “Development,” says the Encyclopedia of International Development, “is more than simple increase in a country’s wealth and living conditions. It also implies increasing people’s choices and freedoms; it is change that is inclusive and empowering.”