What is Public Service?

This is the administrative unit of the government through which government’s day to day operations and activities are carried out for smooth operations of the government. It is responsible for policy formulation, advice and implementation of the decisions for the government.

The professional cadre of persons who are responsible for running the affairs of a state; they operate the machinery of government. Similarly, civil servants are those working in government ministries and departments on a permanent or semi-permanent basis and are paid from public funds except those who hold political and sensitive appointments e.g. Navy, Air-force and soldiers.


The Structure of Public Service

The public service is divided into ministries and departments. Each ministry is headed by a minister at the federal and commissioner at the state levels. The officers of the public service are divided into:

  1. Administrative Class: This is the highest class and its main duty is to advise ministries on policy matters. The members of this class are mainly recruited from people who are degree holders. This class consist Permanent secretaries, deputy permanent secretaries, director-general. They forecast the probable effects of new policies and regulations and offer useful advice, to the executive arm of the government i.e ministers and commissioners.
  2. Executive Class: This class is responsible for the day-to-day execution of government business. They are for carrying out government policies.
  3. Professional or Technical Class: This class carries out the wide range of specialized activities with which the government is concerned. Officers in this class include agriculturist, lawyer, doctors, engineers, surveyors, accountants, auditors etc.
  4. The Clerical Class: This class consists of typists and other low cadre officers. The class contains mass of subordinate and juniors such as the clerks, typist, office assistance etc.
  5. Manipulative Class: This class consists the messengers, drivers; cleaners etc. Recruitment to this class does not require much expertise.


Reasons for Shortcomings of the Public Service of Nigeria

The reasons for the shortcomings of the Public Service in Nigeria are so many, some of these are:

  1. Lack of Well Trained Personnel: The public service in Nigeria and its various departments lack enough and qualified personnel that are meant to work and control various departments. This resulted in improper management of available resources.
  2. Bureaucracy: The problem of hierarchy in the public service brings about the delay in decision making and inefficiency in the public service. For example, issues and decisions of urgent public interest and importance are often delayed due to the principle of bureaucracy.
  3. Insufficient and Poor Working Tools or Equipment: Due to lack of sufficient funds and improper management of the resources in the public service, various departments in the ministries are often faced with insufficient and poor working tools.
  4. Political Interference: The political office holders like the president, governors, chairmen, ministers; commissioners and board members often interfere in the activities of the public service. This often makes the public servants to become ineffective and partisan in the discharged of their official duties.
  5. Corruption and Mismanagement of Resources: The public service is found to be corrupt and at times collaborate with the politicians to mismanage the resources or outrightly embezzle the money meant to better the lot of the citizens.
  6. Nepotism and Tribalism: The officials of the public service are often found to favour their relations, friends and those from their tribe instead of treating issues on merit. The employments, award of contract, promotions, training e.t.c are often on nepotism and tribalism instead of it to be based on merit.


How to Improve Public Service in Nigeria

The public service of any nation is the life wire of that nation. It is often said that public service is the mind of a nation. In other words, the public service determines a lot about the well being or state of mind of the people living in a country.

Improvement of the public service in Nigeria is the duty of all Nigerians. Some of the ways of ensuring these are:

  1. Good salary package and good incentives for public workers. The salaries and dues must be paid as at when due and must be reviewed from time to time and in relations to the dictates of the time.
  2. Exposure of the public workers to training and retraining to update their knowledge about innovations and new technologies for effectiveness.
  3. Political office holders should treat the public servants as professionals and stop interfering unnecessarily into their official duties. Efforts should be made between the two bodies to work together towards the development of Nigeria.
  4. The code of conduct bureau should sanction any public officer that is found wanting in the discharge of his / her duties.
  5. The Public Complaint Commission as a unit should intensify efforts to correct public officer and punish when necessary.
  6. Seminars, workshops, conferences, round table talk and other awareness creation programmes should be conducted from time to time to enlighten the public servants on “what to do and what not to do done” as public servants.


The Control of Civil Service

The civil service can be controlled through the following ways:

  1. Through the general orders (GO). This is the body of rules and regulations governing the activities of the bureaucrats.
  2. Through the ministry of establishments which issues from time to time directives as to how certain duties are performed. The ministry exercises control over proposals involving expenditure, salaries, wages and pensions.
  3. Control by the superior officers who issue directives to subordinate. Others include:
  4. Ministerial control: Minister could issue out query to any erring public servant.
  5. Control by the parliament i.e Ministries are created by the act of the parliament and the representatives of the people have the power to call to order any minister or any public servant or even summon them to clear the air on any issue of public concern.