The United Nations’ Public Service Day is observed on 23rd June each year following the adoption of UN General Assembly Resolution 57/277. It coincides with the Africa Public Service Day which takes place at national and continental levels. The continental celebration is a biennial event while the AU Member States are mandated to celebrate the National Day, every year.
2. As you may be aware, the Africa Public Service Day is usually marked in Nigeria with weeklong activities. However, we are celebrating this year on a low key to observe physical distancing rules and to play our part in curtailing the spread of COVID-19.
3. The African Union recognizes that democracy and successful governance are built on the foundation of a competent civil service. Hence, it aims to celebrate the value and virtue of the public service to the community. The Day therefore provides an opportunity to highlight contributions of the public service in the development process and recognize the work of public servants while also encouraging young people to pursue careers in the public sector.
4. The world over, public service is recognized as the Government’s response to the ever changing needs of the public and the organ to provide requisite services to its citizens through the development and implementation of policies and management of the common good of the nation.
5. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the theme guiding the African Union activities for 2020 is: “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Condition for Africa’s Development’’. While we appreciate the fact that nations of the continent are faced with somewhat akin challenges and circumstances, in Nigeria we decided to graft our own theme on the unified theme with the aim of speaking to more salient issues that we are faced with as a service. Hence, our national theme for this year is “Entrenching Good Governance: Developing Transparent and Accountable Public Institutions”.
6. Now, while there are several definitions of the term “Good Governance” in the public domain, I’d simply adopt this definition by Wikipedia which states that “In international development, good governance is a way of measuring how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources in a preferred way”. Governance in this context, can apply to corporate, international, national, or local governance as well as the interactions between other sectors of society.
7. “Accountability” and “Transparency” on the other hand are key components of good governance which require an organization to be answerable to those who will be affected by its decisions and actions while maintaining openness and fairness in its processes.
8. It is very instructive to point out that in an information driven age in which we belong, citizens and users of services demand more when it comes to the issue of service delivery. In addition, the level of public enlightenment and interest in government processes and activities also go further to underscore the need for us as service providers to be accountable and transparent. This of course goes a long way in maintaining public confidence and trust in the system.
9. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is pertinent to emphasize that the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has done a lot to put in place mechanisms for the promotion of transparency and accountability. Some these include:
i. The Treasury Single Account (TSA)
ii. The expansion of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS);
iii. The Bank Verification Number; and
iv. The Open Treasury Portal.
10. These among others are an integral part of Government’s public financial management reforms aimed at ensuring effective monitoring and transparency of MDA operations. I wish to acknowledge and appreciate the support of His Excellency, President Muhammed Buhari, to the
Public Service by giving the necessary backing for the success of all our initiatives, programmes and activities.
11. On the part of the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, we are working on a number of reforms to promote Transparency and Accountability by leveraging on Digitization and Automation. For want of time, I will just speak on a few areas.
12. You will recall that at our last webinar held on Friday 19th June, 2020, I informed that the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation is working with stakeholders to develop policy and guidelines on remote working. Thus, in an effort to turn the challenges posed by COVID-19 to opportunities, the office of the Head of Service has developed a draft policy/guidelines on Virtual Meetings, Seminars, workshops and conferences. As you will notice, many MDAs have adopted virtual platforms to hold these meetings and therefore the need arises to streamline this new trend. This draft policy and guidelines have been worked on and are awaiting concurrence of all stakeholders before it is made public. It is worth stating here that the virtual platform among other things we have being doing, became handy for the Office to include foreign officers in seven of our foreign missions who took part in the just concluded permanent secretaries’ selection exercise.
13. At the last webinar, I also informed that plans are underway for the digitization of some processes in the service which include:
This is being driven through robust partnerships particularly with the private sector. To this effect, only yesterday, the office issued a circular Reference HCSF/3057/VOL.1/77 on Digitization of Files and Other Records in MDAs. This is the first step in the process.
14. This initiative among others to follow are one of the strategies for the establishment of
Enterprise Content Management System (ECM) which incorporates digitization/automation of documents. Some of the expected outcomes of this initiative include, Reducing Delay in Treating Files and Documents; Easy Tracking of Files and Documents; Preventing Loss of Files and Improving Access Control among others. It is expected that when fully on stream, this system of file/document management will support efforts by Government to promote transparency and accountability.
15. We have been engaging with the Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG) and have been benefiting immensely from and also learning a lot of lessons and success stories from the private
sector perspective. You may be aware that the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with AIG for the transformation of the Service and I wish to state that a lot of work has been done in that direction.
16. At the juncture, permit me to use this opportunity to enlighten everyone on what we are doing to promote transparency and accountability through the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
17. IPPIS, being a Service-Wide System is intended to capture the records of all employees of the Federal Government of Nigeria, regardless of their geographical locations. The Office of the Head of Service has embarked on the accelerated Roll out of HR Module of the IPPIS. Six MDAs are now live on the IPPIS HR Platform.
18. We are currently reviewing the records of additional 10 MDAs with a view of going Live this month, while the final batch of 19 MDAs will Go live in August 2020. To this end, all Permanent Secretaries have been advised to set up internet enabled self-service centres to ensure that all staff including those that don’t have systems on their tables gain easy access to the IPPIS Platform.
19. Notwithstanding the resistance to the full implementation of the IPPIS, I wish to place on record that the Project has been able to achieve the following:
i. Determining the actual number of serving Public Servants in Nigeria;
ii. Enabling the attainment of projected Savings to the tune of 60 to 120 billion naira from cleaning Human Resource (HR) data on IPPIS,
iii. thus improving overall transparency and administration of HR;
iv. Improving productivity and governance for HR administration across all HR processes such as payroll transfers, promotions, recruitment and training;
v. improving quality and speed of service delivery by reducing administrative costs, increasing transparency, making services more accessible and increasing the ability to make data driven decisions; and
vi. Enhancing economic growth through the channeling of the saved funds to other aspects of Service delivery by the government.
20. In view of the above benefits we will sustain sensitization on the online records update and other HR implementation activities in MDAs with a view to creating more awareness among Federal Government employees.
21. PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, you would agree that over the years, efforts have been made to develop a new Performance Management System due to the inherent weakness of the current Annual Performance Evaluation Report (APER). It is therefore pleasing to note that the new PMS is based on the principles of Accountability, Transparency, Equity and Ownership. Every individual, unit, department and institution in the public service shall be held accountable on a continuous basis to ensure that national development goals are met.
22. It is worthy to note that in an effort to implement the PMS in the Federal Public Service, the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation and its major stakeholders – Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) and Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning (MFB&NP) enjoyed robust support from local and International partners, such as Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPM), Federal Public Administration Reform (FEPAR), United Kingdom Department for International Development (UK-DFID) under its Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) Programme, and the European Union, under its Support to Federal Governance Reforms (SUFEGOR) programme.
23. As expected the support received from the aforementioned stakeholders has produced some gains. They include:
i. Successful pilot of the PMS in three (3) Government institutions – Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Office of the Head of Service of the Federation.
ii. Successful conduct of Lesson Learning Workshop to gain from the experience of MDAs such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria Communication Satellite (NigComSat) which are already running PMS. This led to the production of the draft PMS Policy, Tools and Guidelines; and lastly
iii. Review of the draft PMS Policy, Tools and Guidelines is 90% completed.
24. In the area of Capacity Building, we have attained modest progress in view of the conclusion of numerous pre-training activities. It is hoped that the Plan will be sustained to allow the office meet the 2023 target. So far we have launched the reviewed modules on Induction, Structured Mandatory Assessment Based Training Program (SMAT-P) as well as the Leadership Enhancement and Development Program (LEAD-P). Under the SMAT-P 1,287 Officers have been trained. The target is to achieve 100% participation of civil servants in SMAT-P.
25. Under the Induction Training, the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation successfully conducted Pilot training with new Induction module for selected 700 officers on SGL 7- 10 and carried out an Evaluation of Pilot Induction training in February 2020. 609 Officers have been trained and it is our target to induct 27,000 officers by 2023 which will cover newly recruited and promoted officers. We have observed weaknesses in the PRS Departments of all MDAs. We are therefore working with the Federal Civil Service Commission to bring back the Planning Officers Cadre into the scheme of service. By reintroducing the cadre, skill gaps will be identified and necessary steps taken to build capacity.
26. Also to improve capacity and strengthen the directorate level cadre, the Office of the Head of Service is proposing mandatory training of officers on Grade Level 14 before presenting them to the Federal Civil Service Commission for promotion to directorate cadre.
27. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, while we are determined to bring about rapid transformation of the public service through the above strategies, Change Management still has a very crucial role to play in ensuring a smooth transition to a transformed Public Service. It is envisioned that change in behaviour from a bureaucratic to an entrepreneurial result-oriented and innovative Civil Service among other goals will be embraced and sustained. In this regard, the Webinar series on Change Management which we began last week will be continued and made more elaborate.
28. Fellow Public Servants, indeed, these times are most unprecedented as we certainly have not been through this road before which of course has informed the holding of this year’s celebration in a virtual environment. We must see opportunities beyond the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. I urge every one of us who make up the nation’s teeming workforce to use this period to reflect on how the global system has been responding to the COVID-19 scourge with a view of adapting new trends and ensuring that the current situation does not get the best of us.
29. I need not emphasize that more than ever, we must improve our diligence and dedication in the services we render having it in mind that what we do, should now be appreciated beyond a means of livelihood for ourselves and families to a critical element for the sustenance of humanity. We must also be prepared to adapt to change as this situation necessitates.
30. Today, we must not forget to salute and celebrate the resilience of Nigerian workers- the brave men and women who have been working round the clock providing essential services in response to the pandemic especially health workers on the frontline and those who unfortunately have had to pay the ultimate price. Our hearts and sincere condolences go out to their families and colleagues.
31. I also commend the leaderships of the nation’s Labour Unions for their solidarity during this period.
32. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, if we are to remain worthy custodians of public trust, we therefore have the obligation of turning a new leaf from the old ways of doing things. Indeed a new normal has evolved and we all as public servants must be ready to align to this paradigm shift.
33. Lastly, we have embarked an emergency renovation of Phase One of the Federal Secretariat complex to make it more conducive for work. On this note I wish every Nigerian public servant happy celebration, stay healthy, stay safe and GOD BLESS THE NIGERIAN PUBLIC SERVICE.