UNETHICAL BEHAVIOUR IN THE CIVIL SERVICE
The collapse of ethical and professional standards in virtually all aspects of our national life cannot be more profound in other sector than the civil service. This is because as the largest employer of labour in the country, its efficiency and effectiveness has an over-arching effect on the state of the society. It is a major administrative section of government responsible for policy formulation, implementation and regulation.
Public service all around the world like other professions is guided by set of rules and norms. These rules often referred to as code of ethics are the standard with which professionalism is measured. Notable among these codes are; impartiality, neutrality, objectivity, transparency, frugality, high level of integrity, confidentiality, loyalty to state, efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery.
The civil service which of course is a reflection of the present Nigerian society is bedeviled by various unprofessional and unethical practices. A large number of the Nigerian civil servants cannot be said to be disciplined, professional nor efficient and effective in the exercise of their duties. Corruption, wanton waste of public resources, deplorable state of public utilities, nepotism and favoritism seems to be the prevailing values of today’s public service in Nigeria.
Ironically, various control mechanisms have been put in place to guide the conduct of public service in Nigeria. These include the fifth schedule of the 1999 constitution, the Civil Service Rules, Guidelines for appointment, promotion and discipline issued by the civil service commission, the code of conduct bureau etc. However, while the concern is not majorly the presence or suitability of these restraining measures, it is rather the seeming non-enforcement and apathy on the part of the public servants themselves that is of great concern.
Citing the latest ministerial appointments by the present government, we cannot categorically state that this guidelines and rules were followed to the latter. Since the president seemed to appoint ministers base on geographical and political reasons.
Even at the continental level, the Charter for Public service in Africa, adopted by African Ministers at Windhoek, Namibia, including Nigeria in 2001 is one of such initiative. The charter was developed to achieve three interrelated purposes of; Defining the principles and general rules governing African public services with respect to transparency, professionalism and ethical standards; Giving concrete expression to the commitment of African States to promote such values in the public service; and Serving as a policy framework for the public service administration of all African countries and a source of inspiration for the development, strengthening or updating of national codes of conduct. However, successful domestication of this charter remains to be seen.
So what are the challenges associated with implementing these rules? The Nigerian society is culpable. The pervading cynical and despairing nature of the populace has rubbed off on the public service significantly. The Nigerian society presently suffers a great value and ethics lacuna. Hitherto age-longed values of hard work and integrity which were hallmark of the Nigerian society have been eroded greatly. Mediocrity, hypocrisy, nepotism, favoritism, corruption and idolation of material wealth are now the order of the day. How then do we expect an “angelic” public service to emerge from such a society?
One of the innovative ways we have designed to combat the scourge of corruption which has been elevated to the status of acceptable mode of behavior in Nigeria today is to begin to identify icons of hope in our public service who have against all odds remained epitome of integrity, honesty, neutrality, frugality and untainted. These are individuals who have managed to hold on to their heads when others have lost and increasingly loosing theirs, individuals who have not given to inordinate pursuit and love of material acquisition from questionable means. Such individuals have the moral pedigree to inspire, motivate and encourage a number of other public servants who are also tired of the general stereotype that has rubbed off on their integrity too. They have the moral standing to push these reforms collectively forming themselves into “vanguards of hope” in the public service. Such vanguards would serve as reinforcing communities within the public service encouraging value-laden, ethical and professional conducts.
The effects of these will be far reaching. It would not be limited to the public service as it would have a multiplier effect on the private sector, civil society and also the image of the country globally.
The effect will be an increase in number of individuals who are collectively committed to the highest standard of conducts in their activities. Service delivery in the most efficient and effective manners will take centre stage. General consciousness to avoid wastage, corruption, nepotism and other ills will become the basis of the renewed society. The incidence of corrupt practices will begin to reduce drastically.
GENDER INEQUALITY IN THE CIVIL SERVICE
Over the years, Nigerian women have been relegated to the background especially in issues of political representation. This is largely due to the fact that the Nigerian political system (both pre-colonial and post-colonial political system) is highly patriarchal in nature with men often in the lead of the political affairs and women occupying very insignificant roles.
Factors such as social, cultural and religious factors coupled with the complex nature of the Nigerian political process have been identified to be largely responsible for the marginalization of women especially in the issues of public service, political representation and governance. The appointment of the present ministers in Nigerian showed that gender equality in public service and political participation still lags behind. For instance, the present serving ministers in Nigeria, women occupy only 6 seats out of the 36 ministerial seats.
The way forward
The pace at which the numbers of women participate in public service has not been quite impressive; the percentage of women in active political participation is still below the threshold. This slow speed has led to various wake up calls, awareness campaigns, conferences, increased agitations for a more effective and efficient method of achieving gender balance in politics all over the world- Nigeria is not an exception. Nigeria being a signatory to the African charter on human and people’s rights on the rights of women in Africa (Maputo protocol) and the millennium declaration of September 2000 made a pledge among other things to tackle gender issues and women empowerment with a set –out dead line of 2015.
The introduction of quota system for women represents one of such means of achieving gender balance in electoral process. The rationale behind the quota system is to recruit women into political position and ensure that women do not remain at the bottom of the list. Quota system aims at ensuring that women constitute a large minority of 30-40% or even achieve a true gender balance of 50-50%. Quota system proposes that women as a matter of necessity form a certain percentage of the members of parliament.
STRUCTURAL CLASSES IN THE CIVIL SERVICE
The civil service in 1990 consisted of the federal civil service, the 21 autonomous state civil services, the unified local government service, and several federal and state civil services including parastatals and corporations. The federal and state civil services were organized around government departments headed by ministers (federal) and commissioners (state), who were appointed by the President and government, respectively. These political heads were responsible for policy matters. The administrative heads of the ministry were the directors general, formerly called permanent secretaries. The ‘chief’ director general was the secretary to government. Until 1988 reforms, the civil service was organized strictly according to British traditions; it was apolitical, civil servants were expected to serve every government in a non-partisan way unlike the present dispensation were ministers are appointed base on geographical and political affiliations, and the norms of impersonality and hierarchical authority were well entrenched.
Functions of the federal civil service
The federal civil service commission (FCSC) is responsible for;
- Representing of the civil service commissioners at senior staff committee meetings of ministers.
- Review and approval of recommendations on disciplinary cases of senior officers.
- Recruitment of senior officers.
- Ratification of promotion of officers to senior positions, including conducting promotion, interviews and exams.
- Hearing appeals on matters of appointments, promotions and discipline.
- Providing guidelines on appointments, promotions and discipline.