An Open Letter To Nigerian Civil Servants-How Civil Servants Underdeveloped Nigerian Public System By Tony Osborg
Let me begin by reminding us that politicians come and politicians go, so do their government and their policies. Yet, there exist a particular group of government officials, who, once they come into office, they do not exit easily like their politician counterpart. They are the real government officials! The civil servants. They stick to the system and assist the politicians achieve their aim, be it a good or ugly aim, they will always support. A politician can stay for as short as eight years, but these other people can have their way for as long as thirty years and even wanting more! Some of them have even vowed to die in office and they have adopted various methods in achieving this. Fraudulent changing of birth age every ten years, enrollment in part-time programmes, change of birth origin, etc are just few of the ways they elongate their stay in the civil service. If you think Politicians like to stay long in office, then you haven’t met the Nigerian Civil Servants.
There are less than 5,000 core politicians across Nigeria and over millions of civil servants working with them. One would begin to wonder, is it that these few politicians are constitutionally empowered to manipulate and misuse the civil service, or is that the civil servants are just too lackadaisical in supporting any government, be it a good, bad or the ugly type? Indeed, they are always willing to bend in as much as their share of the cake is reserved.
Go to the University part-time programmes, you will see them flooding the classrooms in search of higher rank and higher pay with no aim of acquiring a higher value for their work place. I was shocked to read in the papers that the NUC had revoked the suspension on part-time programmes and has thereby allowed this certificate-acquisition-without-value fraud to continue in the civil service. It is only in Nigeria civil service that you can see workers abandon their duty post for years (and still earn their salaries for this period), enroll for a part-time academic program, acquire a higher degree, return to their duty post and get a higher salary with no additional value to the work. Just a new certificate for the sake of a higher pay! If you want to know why our National recurrent expenditure have been on the high side throughout this democratic dispensation, just check the payroll of our civil servants and you will find out that they are responsible for the underdevelopment of our economy and the public system!
One cannot remember when last time the defunct PHCN and any other government owned corporation publicly published their monthly statement of accounts. What are they afraid of? What is wrong in showing us how much your corporation makes and spends in a month? Without doubt, the money PHCN makes monthly is enough to clear paychecks and even build new power plants independently of Federal Government’s intervention. Thank God they have been disbanded, let’s see how those top officials will continue to generate billions monthly, manipulate the figures and then lie to our government that mere millions are been made as loss. PHCN could have survived as a public owned but Independent Corporation like N-LNG if not for the fraudulent approaches been adopted by the top management team and their deliberate efforts to jeopardize government effort to minimize costs, cut down recurrent expenditure and thereby maximizing profit in order to expand the power generating assets. Our University teaching hospitals are making millions daily, have you seen their monthly statement of accounts?
As if that is not enough, the civil servants have now assumed a dictatorial pattern of workmanship through establishment of various unions. You dare not try to sack any civil servants for negligence of duty. He will connive with his union executive and the next minute, the whole offices are on strike demanding for an improbable and unconnected archaic agreement to be implemented! We all know what happened when Nigeria University Commission (NUC) demanded for an audit from all University workers. After smelling that the audit might expose their too-many fraudulent activities, they (under the name of ASUU), refused this audit based on a clumsy and stupid excuse. And even when NUC insisted, they threatened, embarked on strike and won at the end! Even though this NUC audit was not mentioned as part of the reason for their recent strike, we all know they couldn’t have mentioned it for the fear of public suspicion. Yet NUC accepted defeat and obviously, the fraud among university workers is bound to continue. What is wrong in an employer through a monitoring commission wanting to have statistics and a comprehensive database of its employees? There are many dead lecturers that still earn salaries from Nigerian government! It is a common practice among civil servants. Without doubt, the Nigerian Government should do something about the becoming dictatorial misbehavior of trade unions and labour associations in this country. Since when has employees become greater than their employers all in the name of union?
Have you ever wondered why our LGAs have all failed in developing their various councils? It is simply because they spend over 80% of their federal allocated income in paying some unproductive civil servants who cannot boast of generating a hundred thousand Naira to the coffers of the LGA on a monthly basis. As a patriotic politician, try to use the term ‘redundancy’ as reason for laying them off from your council and I promise you they will ruin your political career. It is no longer news that their (civil servants) input in their place of duty is not in anyway commensurate to the monthly salary they earn. Try to ask them why it is so and they will say ‘na so government work dey be na’. Indolent sit-at-home workers are what we have in our LGA councils!
Every civil servant must ask him/herself, is my monthly earned income commensurate with my monthly input to this office? Am I been productive in this office in the same way I should be if it were my personal private business? If the answer to this question is no, then without doubt, you are the kind of civil servant that is responsible for backwardness of our general economy and the Nigerian public system. Please resign and make yourself productive!
For every crime a politician successfully commits in office, there are a hundred civil servants who guided him and another hundred who will work hard to officially cover up the illegality. For every ten evil politicians that exist in Nigeria, there are a hundred thousand evil civil servants supporting them to succeed! It is high time we investigate these civil servants in the same propensity that we investigate the politicians.
Just recently, a group of civil servants in the name of ASUU, refused to show up for work in five months and yet have been paid for this whole period! Where in the world can this absurdity happen if not in the Nigerian Civil Service. Yet the tax payers whose commonwealth are been used to settle these group of people are all keeping mute. In Nigerian university, a seventy years old professor would love to die in office rather than in retirement. I guess we are all suffering from this I-don’t-care altitude. Only in Nigeria will workers not show up for work in five months and yet receive their salaries simply because they belong to a union and bear the name ‘civil servants’. Its a pity that most of these ‘unproductive’ civil servants keeps bloating our National recurrent expenditure and thereby ruining our economy. Is this how they run their personal businesses? Or perhaps there is no other way of getting their share of the National Cake. Now I begin to see reasons why every institution and corporation under the civil service and Nigerian government collapses while their private counterparts are doing extremely well. Public Universities and basic schools, refineries, Nitel, Steel Mills, NEPA, etc are all collapsing.
I have once asserted in my earlier article that ‘..If you claim to be a professor and your professorship is not felt practically in the Nigerian society and by the Nigerian economy, then (sorry to say) to hell with your professorship!’ I have not changed my opinion here! Today’s technological products all over the world’s markets, from electronics to gadgets to software and mechanical equipments (cars, keke Napep, etc) are all products of university’s research. I think it is high time our civil servant scholars suspends writing abstract theories and starts practicalizing and pragmaticalizing them! It is high time the Nigerian Government stops building new universities and starts funding old research institutes. Our government and our scholars both have different roles to play here. We just cannot continue to import everything in this country. Yet, no university lecturer cares about the harm of such practice on our economy. We have massively funded our faculties of engineering with the hope of getting new patents and possibly flooding the African market with ‘Made in Nigeria’ technologies and products. But what have we in return from these lecturers? Demands upon demands upon demands. Earned allowances, bonuses, etc. No lecturer is talking about how the government can fund research institutes so we can learn to produce our own manufactured products. These are the kind of civil servants we have in the academic field!
Everyone now believes that the Nigerian Government is a charitable organization and can afford or perhaps should continue to offer free roads, free health care, free education, subsidized pilgrimage trips, cheap petroleum products, etc all at the detriment of our National infrastructural development and in the favour of our civil servants. Ever since our politicians turned our governments into Non-Profit-Organizations, our civil servants lost value, orientation and our civil service work became a work for indolent unproductive citizens. Indeed, this idea of free this and free that by the government has turned Nigerians into lazy poor beggars always expecting the government to do ‘free’ things for them. Free wives should be coming soon to our men from our charitable government! This continuous offering of free education is an attestation that Nigerians have always been poor, are still poor and will continue to be poor, hence the need to make education free for them while they are been looted dry by politicians in collaboration with the civil servants
Without doubt, the Civil service or preferably, the Nigerian civil servants have contributed to the underdevelopment of our economy than any other set of employees in recent time. Their continuous unproductive finagle method of working has led to the increase in our national recurrent expenditure, break down of value in the civil service and with the introduction of ‘free this and free that’ by the recent governments’, the Nigerian civil servants had suddenly become nothing but a bunch of unproductive nonchalant and lazy people depending entirely on the government for everything yet contributing nothing to the accounts upon which their salaries are been paid for. What does an LGA need 6,000 workers for? Why are government owned corporations and institutions collapsing while their private counterpacts are succeeding? It is simply because these people- the civil servants do not work for their salaries. They just earn it for free. And even more harmful is the fact that they don’t save for their pension as the international standard, but yet the govt ends up paying them pension after their long years of indolent service. Pension is suppose to be a personal affair, but for civil servants, it is a government affair. I will be writing a letter to Mr. President soon and in that letter I will clealy state that, ‘If you must drastically reduce your National recurrent expenditure, you must disband the entire civil service and ensure that there exist at least a level of financial autonomy, for the payment of their staffs, especially in parastatals that are able to generate their own funds’.
Until these abnormalities are scrutinized and checked, the Nigerian economy will continue to decline as no nation in the world can succeed by spending over 80% of its income in paying unrepentant, unproductive, redundant workers whose input is not commensurate to the earned output of their corporate duties. If the Nigerian Civil Service was established to augment the unemployment rate in an ineffectual way as it has become, then their bandwagon growth is acceptable even as it threatens our National infrastructural developmental growth and economy. But, if the Nigerian Civil Service was established to offer administrative functions to the government with an aim of encouraging productivity, efficiency, innovation and economic growth in the general well being of the economy, then the present Nigerian Civil Service is due for rehabilitation, reformation and re-orientation in order to retrace their essence and encourage productivity so as to make our nation a better place.
300 level Philosophy Student,
University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria.