I am delighted to welcome you all to the 42nd Meeting of the National Council on Establishments holding in Lagos State, Nigeria’s Centre of Excellence. In particular, permit me to welcome most warmly, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu for his highly esteemed presence at the opening of the NCE in spite of other very important commitments. Your Excellency, we are indeed most honoured by your presence here today.
2. I wish to further appreciate His Excellency for graciously accepting to host this 42nd Meeting of the NCE on behalf of the Government and Good People of Lagos and for the support he is giving to my brother, the Head of Service of the State, Mr. Hakeem MuriOkunola to carry out the functions of his office which is evident in the proactive and excellent arrangements for a successful meeting. We are indeed very grateful for the warm reception we have received since our arrival and all that has been put in place particularly at this trying time.
3. Your Excellency, colleague Council Members, Ladies and Gentlemen, I consider this year’s NCE as a nostalgic home coming for every one of us because the story of the Nigerian Civil Service would not be complete without acknowledging the foundational role played by Lagos in providing the stage and structures for the birth of the Service.
4. In line with the aspiration and vision of our founding fathers, the Nigerian Civil Service remains the most viable instrument available to all governments for the design, implementation and promotion of good governance in the country.
5. It is an institution that has over time and against all odds and unfavourable settings, demonstrated the capacity to adapt to circumstances and our dynamic socio-economic landscape to maintain its relevance and discharge its primary functions of formulating policies, promoting growth and sustainable development, as well as ensuring the delivery of services.
6. In living up to the aforementioned qualities and its role as the engine room for national development, a modern Nigerian Civil Service must remain strategically positioned to develop and drive reforms that will have transformational impact on all sectors of the nation’s economy.
7. Perhaps by providence, the COVID-19 pandemic has grossly reminded us that the only constant thing in life is change. However, in view of the negative and devastating changes caused by the pandemic, it is imperative that we continue to work concertedly and develop a positive attitude so as to surmount the current challenges. At this juncture, I wish to commend the forthright leadership of His Excellency, Governor Sanwo-Olu in forestalling the spread of COVID-19 in Lagos State which has received both national and international acclaim and recognition.
8. I also seize this opportunity to laud His Excellency’s multi-pronged approach to governance which has yielded transformative achievements particularly in the areas of capacity development as well as efficient service delivery as they pertain to the civil service. I am therefore confident that your Administration will achieve more giant strides through the holistic implementation of the “Budget of Rekindled Hope” in 2021.
9. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, as service providers, another challenge we must brace for is the delivery of services and other dividends of democracy to the rising population of the country. According to data from the United Nations Population Division which was published on Statista.com, Nigeria with an estimated 200 million population is progressively moving to be the third most populous nation on earth by 2050 overtaking the United States. The challenge then is creating opportunities and delivering sectoral services to the people.
10. Arising from this challenge, the need to put in place digitally driven mechanisms and reform initiates becomes imperative for improved and seamless running of government business. This is why the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Administration through the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation is putting in place a number of mechanisms to drive its flagship digitalization project. Accordingly, I wish to acknowledge and appreciate the immense support the civil service is enjoying from Mr. President. Certainly, without the strong backing of His Excellency for our policies, programmes and activities, we would not have attained the level of progress recorded so far.
11. To begin with, the Office is implementing a service-wide Enterprise Content Management Solution (ECMS) which is aimed at digitizing records and automating workflow to achieve overall improvement in information sharing and collaboration across the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government. In this regard, we are currently finalizing the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all our processes in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation ahead of the Service-wide roll out of the ECMS. I need to state that this project is being implemented in collaboration with our partners, the African Initiative for Governance (AIG) and work on its implementation is at a very advanced stage.
12. Your Excellency, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, other mechanisms being put in place to evolve a digitalized public service include the development of a National Policy on Virtual Engagements in Federal Public Institutions. The policy is geared towards establishing a framework and standards within Ministries, Departments, Agencies, parastatals and government owned companies using virtual engagement as an administrative procedure.
13. The policy which is in line with the Nigeria e-Government Masterplan was jointly developed through a consultative process involving the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy. The Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the policy document on 14th October, 2020 and efforts are underway to properly institutionalize the policy service-wide.
14. We have also commenced the complete overhaul of the weak and ineffective paper-based Annual Performance Evaluation Report (APER) by putting in place a Performance Management System (PMS). Through our partnership with the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM), the office has been able to successfully organize a good number of capacity building programmes for public servants targeted at ensuring the seamless transition from APER to PMS. One of the notable trainings we’ve been able to implement are Job Objectives Setting Workshops for officers in the Public Service.
15. The objectives of the PMS include: 1. To provide a platform for continuous enhancement of performance with regards to national development programmes; 2. To serve as a vehicle for the actualization of national goals; and 3. To build competence and capacity of public servants at all levels through the identification of knowledge and skill gaps; In addition, the new PMS is designed: 4. To institutionalize performance based culture that enables recognition and reward of high performance at all levels within the Public Service; and 5. To ensure effective measurement and outcomes of performance at all levels in the Public Service.
16. Also, it has become imperative for us to re-orientate our workforce and improve our value system. In achieving this, a mechanism for identifying and grooming new leaders who can replace old ones when they leave office is being put in place. Accordingly, a key capacity building initiative of the office in collaboration with the Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG) is the LEAD-P/Special Presidential Cohort Training which is a top talent programme designed for civil servants on Salary Grade Levels 10-14.
17. LEAD-P is aimed at building the leadership and general competencies of qualified officers and prepare them for strategic and future leadership positons. The target is to train at least 100 qualified officers annually.
18. Council will recall that at our 41st meeting in Asaba, I informed on our plans to review our Public Service Rules (PSR) which was last done in 2008. I had also requested for your active participation in the review process by sending your input through the link provided on the website of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. Therefore, it is most gratifying to inform that the exercise has been successfully carried out and the reviewed draft PSR will be presented at plenary for consideration. I wish to sincerely appreciate everyone who took out time to make their invaluable contributions available to enable us carry out the assignment. Thank you very much.
19. Also at our last Council meeting, a special committee comprising Six Heads of Service was appointed to assess the relevance of professional qualifications in the Schemes of Service and other issues relating to enhanced entry points and internship programme in the Public/Civil Service. The committee was formally inaugurated in Abuja and on conclusion of its assignment, a report was presented to me and I wish to thank the committee for the timely completion of the assignment. I am reliably informed that the report of the Committee has been considered by the Meeting of Officials, and a report with appropriate recommendations is expected to be presented along with the new issues at this meeting. I am also aware that the new Teacher’s policy as approved by the Federal Government is one of the matters we shall also consider.
20. Distinguished council members, there are a number of other initiatives, being driven by the Service to ensure policies, programmes and projects of government translate into tangible and life changing interventions for the wellbeing Nigerians. Therefore, permit me to commend our unwavering commitment to the NCE. Given our wide and rich experiences as well as our in-depth knowledge of the Civil Service, I have no doubt that the outcome of this meeting will propel the Civil Service in Nigeria to greater heights.
21. Your Excellency, Council Members, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, as I conclude my remarks, I wish to commiserate with the Government and Good People of Lagos State over the recent demise of your son and Federal Permanent Secretary representing the state in the Federal Civil Service- Mr. Babatude Lawal. He was truly a great ambassador of Lagos State and an accomplished civil servant whose work has continued to bring pride and prestige to the service even in death. May I therefore humbly request that we all rise and observe a one-minute silence in his honour. May the soul of the departed rest in peace.
22. We also commiserate with Your Excellency on the unfortunate loss of life and property due to violence that erupted in the state during the EndSARS protest and commend the successful launch of the Rebuild Lagos Initiative and the Inauguration of the Board of Trustees of Rebuild Lagos Trust Fund. Lagos State is globally recognized for its peace and tranquility and a melting pot of cultures, tribes, races and people and we must collectively safeguard this heritage. Therefore, we sincerely wish this our great state speedy recovery from the massive destruction experienced.
23. Again, this underscores the importance of fora like the NCE where a wide range of stakeholders can meet, exchange ideas and continue to serve as a consultative and advisory body to Government on Establishment Matters that would lead to improved productivity of the nation’s human capital for better delivery of services to the people of the country.
24. Therefore, I wish to assure that Council remains committed to supporting and partnering with the Governments of Lagos and other states in the Federation with the objective of building smarter and more efficient civil services. This, we can fast track by collaborating and synchronizing Federal and State programmes in a manner that would create a sustainable interface in the area of policy formulation and implementation. However, this further beckons for synergy, buy-in and ownership of national policy initiatives by states with the aim of deepening development and interventions to the most disadvantaged segments of society.
25. Your Excellency, Fellow Council members, Delegates, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I once again welcome you to this meeting and thank you all for your rapt attention even as I wish us all fruitful deliberations.
26. May God bless Lagos State and the Nigerian Public Service. Èkó ò ní bàjé.