The new Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Prof. Tunji Olaopa, has unveiled a set of strategies to explore to reform the service and make it a preferred employer of human capital in the country.
Mr Olaopa, a professor of public administration, spoke in Abuja on Tuesday during his inauguration along with 11 commissioners by President Bola Tinubu.
The former Permanent Secretary who expressed appreciation to Tinubu for the confidence reposed in him and other members of the new commission, assured the President that he would work closely with key leaders such as the Head of Service and the Body of Permanent Secretaries in their shared commitment to further deepen the ongoing reform of the federal service to effectively contribute to good governance and the administration’s Renewed Hope Agenda.
Saying he was fully aware of the mandate of the new commission, Mr Olaopa told the President, “You have unambiguously communicated your vision and expectations to us to ‘competently facilitate the transformation, reorientation, and digitisation of the federal bureaucracy to enable, and not stifle, growth and enhanced private sector participation in the development of the Nigerian economy, in full adherence to the Renewed Hope Agenda of his administration.’’
Mr Olaopa appreciated the President for giving him and the commissioners “the highest opportunity to demonstrate what I have often considered the Nehemiah challenge – a patriotic call to build the broken walls of our country’s public institutions with the full realisation that there will be obstacles along the way and that we will be called to render account not just to you, Sir, but, ultimately, to the Almighty.’’
He stated, “We are fully aware of what you require of us, sir, and are also fully apprised of what Nigerians are yearning for. It is not a coincidence that most of the countries that have made breakthrough progress in their development over the last several decades, including China, Chile, India, Singapore and Rwanda have one thing in common: a merit-based, competent and dependable civil service. Their civil services are the human capital edge that, together with committed and dynamic political leadership, have driven their quest for development. Nigeria’s civil service is in urgent need of a reset. The case for change is compelling, critical and urgent.”
Taking cognisance of past efforts to develop the civil service for optimal performance, Mr Olaopa highlighted “frequent and spirited attempts to ignite the required institutional reform of a system whose efficiency, effectiveness and productivity are so critical to national transformation. Unfortunately, the Nigerian civil service has over the years been a victim of the politics that the leadership plays with the destiny of the nation, and the ‘Nigerian factor,’ or the collusion of all of us in undermining the capacities of our systems to become efficient.”
Noting that the challenges facing the civil service were not insurmountable, Mr Olaopa assured President Tinubu that the commission would strive to strengthen human resource planning and the entrance assessment process to ensure that recruitment addresses strategic staffing needs and is merit-based.
‘We will review and upgrade career management systems and processes, including schemes of service, job descriptions, deployments and records-keeping’, the new chairman said.
He added, “We will ensure that training and testing enhance job performance and career development while also meeting the strategic staffing and capacity building objectives of the service over the medium to long term, including increasing the pool of internal experts and thereby reducing the need for a plethora of costly extra-ministerial entities and consultants that have too frequently become substitutes for civil servants.’’
Further outlining the approach, he stated, “We will seek to improve the performance management system through more robust target-setting that links individual performance to corporate performance and a much more rigorous and transparent system of 360 degrees evaluations, rewards and sanctions that similarly align individual and corporate performance and generate feedback from service users and citizens. We will also ensure that the disciplinary process is remodelled within the framework of stringent culture-change that operationalises a new culture of work that maps behaviour and performance and is transparent, fair and consistent.’’
He also reiterated the need for partnership and collaboration with key players in generating and implementing reforms, stating that “To achieve all this requires the commission, the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, and the body of permanent secretaries and other related entities work collaboratively to generate with utmost speed a civil service Renewed Hope Agenda and Action Plan which implementation is stakeholders driven.”