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ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS AND PUBLIC SERVICE EFFICIENCY IN NIGERIA A CASE STUDY OF ENUGU STATE FROM 1999 TO 2003

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1     Background to the Study

          Public service all over the world is considered a veritable agent of national development as a result of its inevitable role in the implementation and execution of the state (government) policies. It is in this line of thinking that Okeke (2001:166) promptly points that:

No matter the policies, no matter the resources available, there has to be the requisite or reliable or proper administrative apparatus for these policies, for these resources to translate into concrete achievements, concrete services and concrete good for the people and the government of the political unit of interest.

In the above assertion, what is implied is that public service forms a benchmark for the accomplishment of national development goals. To accomplishment the national development goals, public service must be efficiency in its role. However, in Nigeria this does not seems to be the condition or what is obtainable from the public service, which has performed below the expectations of uplifting the national development. Nwatu, (2005:354) in an assessment of the Nigerian public service stated that:

Public services in Nigeria over the decades have witnessed a sick-baby status which has lethargically hinder public services from performing towards national development goals.

 

As Soludo(2004:86) similarly noted, the result of  development in the past decade has been a weakened  public service;  persistent  deficits financed by domestic and external borrowing, creating a high debt service burden; the breakdown of the traditional instruments of  control, leading to corruption and misappropriation of funds; the high incidence of ghost workers; poor costing of programmes and projects; a  large portfolio of  abandoned and ongoing projects; and the mushrooming of institutions, especially inefficient and wasteful public sector. In other  words, he argued tendentiously, that the failure of public services sector in general and the economic  crisis of the past decades, coupled with the present Nigerian  stunted economic development that led to the quest for solutions to national public service problems. Ezeani (2005:124) also stated, “the Nigerian civil service was a British creation and therefore a replica of the British civil service”. According to him, it was established to provide a conducive socio-economic and political environment for the advancement of the British imperialist interest. Therefore, the colonial civil service was more interested in resource exploitation than substantial and qualitative improvement in the welfare of the people.

Despite some modifications here and there, since Nigeria’s independence in 1960, it still remains an uphill task trying to divorce the Nigerian bureaucracy from its colonial mentors’ vision. The Nigerian civil service continues to serve as an instrument of underdevelopment. Consequently, it has failed to act as an effective instrument for the socio-economic transformation of the country due to incompetence, pervasive and institutionalized corruption, legthargy, etceteera.

Consequently, many reforms have been carried out by successive governments in Nigeria with the aim of meeting the needs of the generality of Nigerian population. Indeed, Nigerian civil service has had over eight administrative reforms ranging from Gorsuch Reforms (1954), Mbanefo Reforms (1959), Morgan Reform (1964), Elwood Reforms (1966), Adebo Reforms (1971), Udoji Reforms (1974), the 1988 Reforms and  Ayida (1997/98) Reforms Okotoni (2004:107) and Okoli and Onah (2000:173). On the other hand, Okotoni (2004:107) and Ezeani (2005:135) observed that from Nigeria’s independence in 1960 to 1994, seven Commissions or Panels have been set up to look into the problems of the public service and make recommendations on ways to improve its performance. However, these reforms were unsuccessful necessitating other reforms of the service.

Since 1999, the Federal Government, under the leadership of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, is under no illusion about the urgent need to effect the necessary reforms that will address the problems of the civil service and make it efficient and effective Nnalue (2002:45). In a similar note, Musa (2001:2) puts thus:

  The government has embarked on measures to reorient the Nigerian public service to new Administration’s expectation of it and to reestablish old civil service values of loyalty, integrity, dedication and competence through the introduction of some administrative reforms at the federal, state and local government levels.

 

From the above viewpoint, Ede (2005:56) and Dauda (2006:22) stressed that public sector reforms in Nigeria is policy strategy that aims at reviving the efficient and effective performance of Nigerian public service through tackling corruption, strengthening accountability, providing quality human resource management and improving infrastructural development in the public service to increase service delivery. It is against this backdrop that this study intends to investigate and assess the administrative reforms and the efficiency in the Nigerian public service mainly from 1999-2003.

 

1.2     Statement of the Problem

The public service of any nation remains its greatest asset in its quest for socio-economic and political transformation. Therefore, the efficiency of a state is predicated on the character of and methods of its public service. This view was stressed by the Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Review Panel in 1975, when he opined that “there is a strong sense in which a country is a close reflection of the effectiveness and sensitivity of its civil service”.     

However, with the present performance of the Nigerian public service, it is difficult to accept that its operations and service delivery are efficient.  Today there are a lot of claims and criticisms that the Nigerian public service has remained stagnant to growth on the current on- going government reforms on the public service sector. From assessment of the Nigeria public service performance by scholars like Oladipo (2009:370), Akpederi (2005:48) and Ademolekun (2002:86) showed that effectiveness and efficiency have not been achieved to justify the raison d’tere for numerous reforms that have been carried out. On this note, Ede (2005:64) stated that “it is now evidently clear that the Nigerian public service has performed dismally as an instrument for achieving national development in spite of all the initiated reforms and financial investment.” However, we cannot understand why that is the case outside the context of the general inefficiency in the public service which has been characterized by high incidence of corruption, lack of accountability, poor staff training and development, poor infrastructure to work with and general poor service delivery of the public services. In view of these problems, various reforms have been initiated to bring positive changes in the Nigeria public service but the experience so far shows that the problems have persisted unabated.

Analytically, the government reforms on the Nigerian public sector need to be re-assessed since the problems they always come to salvage have also persisted unabated. Consequently, the central question becomes ever more pressing today in the current context of declining management efficiency in public service particularly in Enugu state.

The reality of the situation is that there is incidence of corruption and lack of accountability in the public service today in Nigeria, such have adverse effects on administrative efficiency of Nigerian public service particularly in Enugu State especially as it concerns quality service delivery. Systematically, corruption as observed by Anazodo (2009:295) has threatened the implementations of reform programmes under the current reforms as it weakens quality service delivery in the public service. It has been emphasized by the Enugu State SEEDS (2004:79) that:

Corruption remains a risk for all public programmes in Nigeria. With the high levels of corruption in Nigeria, and especially in the public sector, there is a risk that public funds and services may be diverted and fail to reach the intended beneficiaries

 

According to Soludo (2004:86) the core priorities of current public sector reforms are: enforcing anti-corruption laws, to ensure transparency and accountability in public service, stimulate efficient service delivery, fight against ghost workers as well as implementing and ensuring the sustenance of good manpower training and development, administration of benefits and incentives towards goal-oriented public service. Despite the above, there is still persistence of corruption in the Nigerian public bureaucracies which has affected the quality service delivery rendered by the civil servants. The truth of the matter is that efficient and responsive public service as well as prudent accountability, which are major target areas of public sector reform, may not be likely achieved in the current face of corrupt image of the Nigerian public service both at local and international assessments. Although as Adebayo (2004:32) has rightly observed, this has been the consequential effect of poor motivation of the civil servants by the government.

On the other hand, there is still a mix-feeling signal or view that the “right-sizing exercise” in the public service may lead to further socio- economic problems considering the effect on the employees (public servants). There is the fear that with all the laudable intentions of the public sector reforms to set the public service on the path of good management, the practical effects of the retrenchment may create an atmosphere of apprehension and uncertainty in the public service. This, in turn, may lead to a general feeling of depression. And no one suffering from a feeling of fear and depression can be expected to be efficient at his work. For, instance, the massive purge of the public service in 1975 was highlighted by Adebayo (1982) as a major contributor to inefficiency in the Nigerian public service.

Moreover, brief review of the records of decade public service in past years, by scholars such as Onah (2000:12), Nwatu (2006:106) and Ezeani (2005:136) suggest that staff training and development programme in the public service is inadequate to make the service efficient. From the foregoing, inadequate staff training and development stand to mar the effort of the public sector reforms in restoring the professionalism of the public service and provision of quality service delivery in the public services. It is apparently clear that untrained public servants are liabilities to the government and may cause other problems in the process of performing their jobs. On the other hand, Akpan (1979:13) cited in Onah (2003) puts thus:

An untrained man in the modern world may… be a menance to the society. He is a quack; he knows only the laws of thing; he has no idea of their why. Hence if there is any trouble anywhere-breakdown in a machine or a mistake in a ledger- all he can do is to fumble and punch up trouble anyhow, leading to a more serious breakdown or greater confusion. Really there is no place for the untrained worker, or even the intelligent amateur, in these days of specialized work.

 

This undoubtedly may affect the government target to reduce waste and improve efficiency of public expenditures in Nigerian public service through enhancing the proficiency of the public servants/civil servants as emphasized in the public sector reforms such as NEEDS, SEEDS, LEEDS, Pension Reform, Power Sector Reform, Due Process etc.

Indeed, it is necessary to recognize the fact that public sector reforms demand or require political supports if their implementations both at national, state and local levels must be achieve. But there is uncertainty considering what Onah (2006:8) has stated that:

 

The problem in Nigeria is not about conceptualizing policies, plans and programmes; neither is it about putting down development plans rather it is implementation.

 

The above statement suggests that the level of political will or support attached to the implementation of public service reforms may threaten the achievements where the support does not match the expectations. It is therefore against this backdrop that the researcher intends to investigate on the administrative reforms and public service efficiency in Nigeria: a case of Enugu state from (1999-2003). It is in view of the fore-goings that this study tends to raise the following questions:

  • Have administrative reforms in the Nigerian public service made positive effects in improving the efficiency of Enugu state civil service?
  • What are the constraints militating against the effort of government in creating efficient and responsive civil service particularly in Enugu state?
  • What are the measures to be adopted in making Enugu state civil service more efficient and responsive in service delivery?

1.3 Objectives of the Study

          For purposes of clarity, the objectives of this study are grouped into two categories namely: Broad and Specific.

      Broad Objective of the Study is to:

Examine the administrative reforms and public service efficiency in Nigeria particularly in Enugu state.

     Specific Objectives of the Study are to:

  • Ascertain whether the administrative reforms in the Nigerian public service have made positive effects in improving the efficiency of Enugu state civil service.
  • Identify the constraints militating against the effort of the government in creating efficient and responsive public service in Nigeria particularly in Enugu state.

(iii)  Proffer solutions towards making Enugu state civil service more efficient           and responsive in service delivery.

1.4 Significance of the Study

          The significance of the study presents the value or contribution which the research will make to the existing knowledge. Obasi (1999:73), asserts that research is most important tool for advancing knowledge and enables man to relate more effectively to his environment.

The significance of this study is categorized into theoretical, empirical and practical significance.

          Theoretically, this study has the potential of contributing greatly to the growth of existing theories in social sciences particularly in public administration by helping to enrich the bank of knowledge through its reliable findings on the effects of administrative reforms on the Nigerian public service and particularly in Enugu state can be established. This is to say that our study would assist in improving the frontiers of knowledge especially in the management of the Nigerian public service. The study will be of immense significance in ascertaining the progress so far made through the introduction of administrative reforms by the government in building an efficient and responsive public sector service in Nigeria and Enugu state in particular. On the other hand, the study will assist in unveiling the challenges or factors militating against effective implementation of administrative reforms programmes’ in public sector service and will make useful suggestions towards ensuring the achievement of goals of government administrative reforms in the public service. This is important because it is only a viable or goal oriented public service that can provide quality service delivery for national development. This study also has the potentials of contributing immensely to the existing body of literature on this subject matter.

          Empirically, this study is considered significant because it will contribute in providing the decision makers and other key actors in the Nigerian public service with the road- maps that will necessitate prompt, responsive and efficient public service in Nigeria. It will also suggest the panacea through which the campaign against corruption, lack of accountability and transparency, poor service delivery and general inefficiency in the Nigerian public service can be effectively tackled.

Last, but not the least, this study has the potential to strategically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Nigerian public service through its advocacy on reforming the public bureaucracies in Nigeria especially the behavioural aspect of the bureaucrats. In this regard, this work is a practical pain staking “post mortem” surgical examination of the problems of Nigerian public service as well as the way forward.

1.5 Scope and Limitations of the Study

          This study focuses on the evaluation of the administrative reforms and efficiency in public service in Nigeria using the Enugu state civil service 1999-2003 as a case study. This study covers in detail the current government reforms in the public service such as NEEDS, SEEDS, Due Process, and others which can help us examining the efforts made by the government towards creating a more efficient and responsive public sector in Nigeria and Enugu state in particular through the introduction of administrative reforms.

Nevertheless, a study of this magnitude cannot be completed successfully without the researcher encountering some constraints or limitations. Therefore, this work will not pretend to be containing all holistic information on the programmes of administrative reforms in the public service in Enugu State, rather it will endeavour to highlight the dominant issues and their effects in the public service in Enugu State.

It is also pertinent to mention that inadequacy of data or near absence of a reliable and up to date central data bank on the theme of this study, which has been compounded by the inability of public bureaucracies to grant full access to the researcher nearly mar the effort of the researcher. In other words, paucity of literature on the administrative reforms in Nigeria and its contributions so far in the Enugu state public service almost mar the effort of the researcher. Also most of the relevant information collected so far, for this study is not narrowed down to the case study (Enugu state public service as our case study). On the other hand, some information is said to be classified information and out of bound to non staff. Considering this, the researcher seek other means to supplement and consolidate the information through the use of internet materials, text books, journals, newspapers, magazines and past research projects by students and research institutes. Further information was collected from the civil servants in Enugu state using questionnaire and interview. However, the researcher ensured that the limitations/constraints did not affect the outcome of the study by supplementing the available information through internet material, text books, journals and administration of questionnaire and oral interview.

 

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