President Muhammadu Buhari has said that Nigeria’s civil service has lost its steam to poverty of ideas and corruption, which have resulted in inefficiency and poor output.
The President made the observation at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, yesterday, while launching the Capacity Building Programmes for Public Servants—Structured Mandatory Assessment-based Training Programme (SMAT-P) and Leadership Enhancement And Development Programme (LEAD-P).
“Many who mourn the decline of the civil service today from its days as ‘primus inter pares’ in the Commonwealth to one which has earned a reputation for inefficiency, low productivity, corruption and insensitivity to the needs of the public fall into the error of thinking that the problem is a poverty of ideas and capacity on the part of the civil service; whereas, it is the inability to clearly articulate a vision, ensure that the service develops the required capacity to articulate and implement the various components of the vision,” Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said.
“Here, we’re launching capacity building initiatives designed to strengthen the leadership at all levels in the service and build a new performance management system. But the fundamental questions are: what is the ethos, the ethical and ideological world view that the service is to deliver? To what purpose do we deploy leadership skills and for what ends? How can we measure performance when the objective itself is unclear?
“Without clear answers to these questions, the service will grope in the dark and take the government and people along with it on a blind-leading-the-blind voyage. So, what sort of country do we envision?”
President Buhari, however, told the civil servants that his administration was envisioning a country where rule of law must be respected.
“We want to build a nation with the citizen as its reason for being and thus its sole focus and responsibility. The citizen, regardless of station in life, must be respected by the governing authorities and treated with dignity. Flowing from these is the imperative that our society must be governed by the rule of law administered by a trustworthy, fearless, impartial and efficient judiciary,” he said.
According to him, a new Nigeria is possible “if we desire it badly enough to fight for it”.
He emphasized the need to build a virile country with contributions from the civil servants, noting that “an army cannot afford indiscipline, inefficiency or lack of focus especially because the hopes and aspirations of a whole society rest on your shoulders”.
The president also said that the civil service must see itself as servants and facilitators of commerce and entrepreneurship, designing policies and removing obstacles to doing business in Nigeria.
“What are the strategic and financial planning initiatives important in a strong private sector led, free market economy but with a robust social protection system for the poor majority?” he asked.