The on-boarding of 14 new permanent secretaries by Mrs. Sarah Ajose-Adeogun (standing, with the microphone), Special Adviser to the Edo State Governor on Strategy, Policy, Project and Performance Management, at the John Odigie-Oyegun Civil Service Academy, Benin City, recently.
The cultural and ethical challenges facing the civil service in Nigeria have clogged the wheel of progress of that sacred institution for decades.
Governments with genuine intentions to effect the required changes but lacked the will, have found no easy conquest in the battle against the rot that has permeated the system.
With vehement will and genuine intentions, change and transformation can be instituted, as every good gardener knows that sometimes, some must die that others may grow.
A paradigm shift can only be experienced when the old gives way to the new sometimes. This process, though gradual, can be arduous, for change remains one of human processes that take their toll on adaptation.
Against this backdrop, Governor Godwin Obaseki on assumption of office began a transformation process in the civil/public service, which began gradually but steadily like the falling of small stones that begin an avalanche in the mountain.
His will and desire to instill a modern and digital work culture in public servants became the burning candle that would ignite the entrenchment of a new order in public service in the state.
The Edo State Civil and Public Service Transformation and Enhancement Programme (EdoSTEP), which was recently launched by Governor Obaseki, is designed to improve efficiency and service delivery.
It is an initiative carefully calculated to birth sustainable reforms, modern and best practices in public service; part of such reforms being the digitization of public service, recruitment of competent manpower, capacity building and effective service delivery.
Governor Obaseki began by transforming the Civil Service Secretariat Complex into a world class work environment where civil servants can work effectively and efficiently.
The secretariat complex which was designed 40 years ago and abandoned by successive administrations after it fell into ruin and decay, has once again been revamped, and this time, with a whole new outlook that brings out the dignity of the civil service and restores the pride of place of civil servants.
The John Odigie Oyegun Public Service Academy was also established for capacity building through the training and retraining of public and civil servants, including new intakes, inculcating in them the new work culture that has been enhanced through a whole new digital pathway.
The Academy has become a digital investment that focuses on building capacity in civil servants and retooling workers for productivity and efficiency.
The need to tackle manpower challenges in the civil service saw the employment of experts into the system, with many bringing their experience from the private sector to bear on service delivery in the state’s civil service.
At the same time, civil servants, including new intakes, are being trained and retrained in order to catch up with new innovations and modern technology-oriented approaches to the work environment.
Today we have a world class work environment for public servants, a training institute for capacity building, and competent manpower to maximize the resources inherent in the public service for measurable outcomes in the day-to-day running of government.
This approach marks the civil service under the leadership of Governor Godwin Obaseki as progressive; a civil service that is not only competence-based but also performance-based, with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) measuring how well public servants are meeting up with their tasks.
Performance has now become the sole determinant of promotion as against the old system which was based on nepotism and favouritism.
The former culture in the service that made civil servants take their work with laxity has been replaced with a culture of optimal performance, restoring the institution to the glory days when civil servants were respected.
Through identified change agents in the various MDAs, the state is moving very quickly into a new era of service delivery.
By John Ewah, Benin City