Only yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari congratulated Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita the substantive Head of Civil Service of the Federation, just as the latter was sworn in to formally assume the duties and responsibilities of her office. For record purposes, she had been on acting capacity since October 21 last year following the retirement of Danladi Kifasi from office and her subsequent appointment by the President.
We note that while speaking with State House correspondents at the end of the brief ceremony, Mrs. Oyo-Ita who took her oath of office as the third woman Head of Civil Service of the Federation, pledged to eliminate corruption in the service and work to boost the capacity of civil servants.
Significantly too, the ceremony preceded the first Federal Executive Council for 2016 and the third in the life of the present administration.
No doubt, given her record in office since her appointment last October, the nation, government and womenfolk have every reason to be comfortable with the new Head of Service. Alongside her utterances on governance and the civil service so far, there is every cause for all to be hopeful that indeed the dispensation of change in the character and conduct of civil servants is here.
For instance, we identify with Mrs. Oyo-Ita’s vision for the federal service which she enunciated when she paid unscheduled visits to some federal MDAs in Abuja recently.
Noting that it had become common place for civil servants to be away from office at festive periods even when duty calls, the new Head of Service remarked that though some officials were on leave, but some were playing truancy, adding that every issue of truancy in the service would be looked into by her office.
But the commendation ended there.
Expressing her determination to fight this ill and the unnecessary bureaucracy that dogs the service, Mrs. Oyo-Ita declared that it was regrettable that staff records and other important information in the service were still being kept in files, adding that such would no longer be tolerated. She added that while her administration of the affairs of the service lasts, the records and document management of the federal civil service will be fully automated. We cannot agree less.
The dispensation where vital service records whether open or confidential are left at the mercy of inclement weather, cob webs and rodents must be done away with henceforth. We state this because the nation has continued to battle matters arising from ghost workers and pensioners whose records- according to reports-formal and informal, oftentimes could not be traced, especially when it matters most to government and the affected persons. Its twin problem of reports of illegal tampering with personnel records which have constituted embarrassment to the government needs to be addressed frontally too.
In this vein, we queue behind the new Head of Service of the Federation to vote for automation of civil servants records, and indeed every process in the service that would check the myriad corrupt practices currently prevailing there. And like she assured, a programme on the electronic management system to be rolled out this year as well as efforts to develop an archival system and a soft ware for that can go a long way to assist in the foregoing direction.
For us and indeed most concerned Nigerians, any strategy that will lift the civil service above its current moral burden would no doubt complement the fight against corrupt practices and will obviously stand Nigerian civil service tall again among its peers anywhere. We must thus add that as the fulcrum around which government activities revolve, a restructured civil service will catalyze governance positively before long; which is why her vision for the service needs the support of all for the needed change.