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Who Is Afraid Of The Civil Servant?

No doubt, these are peculiar times in our Country, Nigeria. Since President Muhamadu Buhari took over the mantle of leadership in the Country, there has been high expectations about the “change mantra” with which he campaigned for our votes. In fact, the expectation were so high that when it appeared that the new Administration was rather slow in getting its acts together, many people started calling the President, ‘Baba Go Slow’. However, many who were more versed on the nuances of governance were not surprised that things appeared rather slow bearing in mind that it will take sometime for a new Government to bring about a discernible change. The case of President Buhari’s administration was even peculiar in that he was assuming leadership after another political party had been in power for about 16 years.

On-going revelations about the level and magnitude of treasury looting in Nigeria had even shown that President Buhari could not have been able to move much faster going by the rottenness and morass which he inherited. No doubt, President Buhari inherited a virtually failed State which was almost comatose. He then had to start from something very near ground zero to deliver on his promises to an anxious and, justifiably, impatient nation. While the level of sleaze being revealed on a daily basis is quite alarming, some Nigerians have been trying to apportion blame as to why the Nation got to this sorry pass. While it is widely believed that our politicians are generally greedy and corrupt, there is an emerging school of thought that claims that Higher Civil Servants are equally corrupt and that they always aid and abet these politicians in fleecing the Nation.

I want to admit that for quite sometime, Higher Civil Servants had been the whipping culprits whenever the malaise in the Civil Service was discussed. Some people believe that Higher Civil Servants assist political office holders to steal public funds by teaching them how to circumvent laid down procedures while some believe that Higher Civil Servants, most of the time, misadvise the political office holders, thereby aiding their corrupt tendencies.

It is, therefore, not uncommon to hear that the misdeed of political leaders are due to the bad advice given to them by Higher Civil Servants. Apart from this, there is the general belief that the Civil Service is slow and hence frustrate quick and decisive actions of the political appointees. With all these accusations at the back of their minds, some people have even derisively dubbed Civil Servants as “Evil Servants” Unfortunately, this classification of Civil Servants appears to be the mind-set of political public office holders in recent times and hence, there are many instances where Civil Servants are sidelined while outside consultants are engaged to do what should normally be their official duties. Some political functionaries even go to the extent of setting up extra-ministerial bodies to carry out such duties while Civil Servants are generally viewed with disdain.

I make bold to say that most of this conjectures or conceptions about Civil Servants are grossly misplaced and unjustifiable. Civil Servants are generally pliable and they often respond to and are guided by the styles of current political office holders. Higher Civil Servants are expected to advise political leaders on policy formulation and execute such policies after they might have been approved by the political leaders. However, these days, Higher Civil Servants are seldom involved in policy formulation. The general practice is for political leaders to come up with their decided policies and then push them to the Civil Servants for implementation. With this practice, Civil Servants have no option than to attempt to implement these policies which, in many cases, might not have been well thought off and/ or implementable under the existing rule and regulations in the Public Service. In their attempts to get such policies implemented willy nilly, due processes are usually jetisoned and seldom followed. In defence of the Higher Civil Servants, it must be pointed out that political leaders are their bosses and they have the mandate of the electorate to occupy such positions and carry out the duties attached thereto. Higher The Civil Servants are duty – bound to obey their bosses and carry out instructions given to them. More often than not, whenever civil servants fail to carry out instructions from political office holders which they consider as improper or inappropriate, such civil servants are regarded as saboteurs and often declared as working for the opposition. At times, people erroneously blame Civil Servants for giving wrong advice to their bosses. They, therefore, blame the shortcomings of these political leaders in office on their advisers. This is very far from the truth. The fact is that these political leaders often do not seek for advice and when they do, they seldom take to them. Also, many of them do not seek for advice as such but instead ask for a confirmation of what they have already decided or for a way of implementing the decision they had already taken. Even, many of them are not good listeners and so do not have time to listen to and digest honest pieces of advice.

Unfortunately, the views held by political office holders in particular and the generality of the people had resulted in a situation where civil servants are seen as parasites on the society or as not adequately contributing to the Nation to justify the amount expended on their salaries and wages. No wonder, at any given opportunity, civil servants are accused of taking more than a fair proportion of the resources of the Nation for the payment of their salaries and wages without any commensurate contribution to the development of the nation. It is no wonder then that the first thing that usually comes as a means of freezing more resources for capital expenditure is to downsize the number of civil servants, Also, it is against the misconception of seeing civil servants as not working to justify their current remunerations that legitimate demands for increase in wages by them are often resisted by succeeding Governments and administrations.

– Osunro is a retired Permanent Secretary from Osun State.

 

 

The post Who Is Afraid Of The Civil Servant? appeared first on Nigerian News from Leadership News.

This post was syndicated from Nigerian News from Leadership News. Click here to read the full text on the original website.

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