Launch Of Structured Mandatory Assessment-Based Training Programme

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Hopes And Aspirations Of Societies Rest On Shoulders Of Effective Federal Civil Services


Two reasons account for the special pleasure I have, to be here this morning to launch the Structured Mandatory Assessment-Based Programme (SMAT-P) and the Leadership Enhancement and Development Programme (Lead-P) for the Federal Civil service. The first, is that it is evident that the leadership of the Service recognizes the need for continuing relevant education for all members of staff of the civil service.

The second and more important reason is that this occasion provides an opportunity to start an important conversation on the role of the civil service in shaping the course of our nation.

The accepted role of the civil service is that of providing support to the government in the formulation and implementation of policy. In that role, the civil service plays a crucial if not a decisive role, in shaping and delivering the destiny of the nation and the people it serves.

This is more so where the government in question has the mandate of the people to deliver fundamental and far reaching change in the polity. Thus the most important question that the service ought to ask is “what is the vision of the political leadership for the country”? Which is another way of asking the question, what sort of country do we want to create? This is an important question because the answer determines what sort of civil service we require, which naturally leads to the question what skills set, learnings or education are required to equip the civil servant to birth and nurture the desired future?

Many who mourn the decline of the civil service today from its days as primus inter pares of first among equals in the Commonwealth, to one which has earned a rather sad reputation for inefficiency, low productivity, corruption and insensitivity to  the needs of the public, fall into the error of thinking that the problem is the poverty of ideas and capacity on the part of the civil service, whereas it is really in most part, the inability of Federal government to clearly articulate a vision, ensure that the service develops the required capacity to articulate and implement the various components of the vision.

To illustrate this point further, here we are launching capacity building initiatives that are 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 worldview that the service is to deliver?  Leadership skills to what end and for what purpose? 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? 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 this is the imperative that our society must be governed by the rule of law administered by a trustworthy, fearless, impartial and efficient judiciary. Rigorously enforced standards of transparency and accountability in the conduct of public business, commerce and zero tolerance for corruption.

We envision a bottom-up economic model that recognizes a private sector driven growth, fully supported by business friendly bureaucracy and policies. The service must see itself as servants and facilitators of commerce and entrepreneurship, designing policies and removing obstacles to doing business in Nigeria. The service must score itself not in enforcing processes and procedures but as to how efficient and expeditious they have enabled business and commerce to be.

The model also envisages robust social protection component. A strong knowledge based economy, relying on cutting edge technologies and systems in governance, education and the economy.

Consequently, the technical competencies that the SMAT-P and LEAD-P programs aim to strengthen namely leadership, strategic planning, strategic communications, financial management, and program management, must be learnt with these contexts and paradigms in mind. What are the strategic and financial planning initiatives important in a strong private sector economy with a robust social protection system for the poor majority? What are the crucial communications to make to the people in a season requiring sacrifice and perseverance on account of falling revenues or for that matter, how do we communicate the position that our anti-corruption, zero tolerance stand is not merely a moral or ethical stand but a developmental construct that recognizes that corruption if not apprehended, will destroy all institutions, the economy and eventually our society. Put differently, how we handle corruption which will make or mar our nation?

Today, our nation stands again on the threshold of a great future, if we desire it badly enough to fight for it. The Federal Civil Service are the foot soldiers in our march to our great destiny. An army cannot afford indiscipline, inefficiency, lack of capacity and lack of focus, especially because the hopes and aspirations of a whole society rest on your shoulders. I trust that you will not fail the Nigerian people. I wish you happy deliberations.

Thank you for listening.