President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said the civil service must be reformed and purged of the vices of corruption, inefficiency and indiscipline for the country to move forward.
The president said this while launching capacity building programmes for public servants tagged Structured Mandatory Assessment-based Training Programme, SMAT-P, and Leadership Enhancement And Development Programme, LEAD-P, at the State House Conference Centre (Old Banquet Hall).
The president, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said, “Many who mourn the decline of the civil service today from its days as ‘primus inter pares’ in the Commonwealth to one which has earned a reputation for inefficiency, low productivity, corruption and insensitivity to the needs of the public fall into the error of thinking that the problem is a poverty of ideas and capacity on the part of the civil service; whereas, it is the inability to clearly articulate a vision, ensure that the service develops the required capacity to articulate and implement the various components of the vision.
“Here, we’re launching capacity building initiatives 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 world view that the service is to deliver? To what purpose do we deploy leadership skills and for what ends? How 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 these is the imperative that our society must be governed by the rule of law administered by a trustworthy, fearless, impartial and efficient judiciary.”
He added that the nation currently stood to again on the threshold of a great future “if we desire it badly enough to fight for it.”
He said federal civil servants were the foot soldiers in Nigeria’s march to a great destiny, saying he trusted that the federal civil service would not fail Nigerians.
The president, however, emphasised that “an army cannot afford indiscipline, inefficiency or lack of focus especially because the hopes and aspirations of a whole society rest on your shoulders.”
He said civil servants must see themselves as servants and facilitators of commerce and entrepreneurship, designing policies and removing obstacles to doing business in Nigeria.
He also advised the service to cultivate the habit of scoring itself not in enforcing processes and procedures, but as to how efficient and expeditious they have enabled businesses to be.
He continued: “What are the strategic and financial planning initiatives important in a strong private sector led, free market economy but 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 communicate the position that our anti-corruption, zero tolerance stand, is not merely a moral or ethical stand but a developmental construct that recognises that corruption if not apprehended will destroy all institutions, the economy and eventually our society?”
Speaking earlier, the Head of Service of the Federation, Mr Danladi Kifasi said the overall objective of the launched programmes was to address capacity and leadership challenges in the civil service.
He noted that the programmes were funded mainly from the training budgets of the MDAs and delivered by the Nigerian Management Development Institute.
Kifasi said in the absence of ministers, Buhari had helped to restore the confidence of the civil service by depending on it for support in governing the country.

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