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LAGOS STATE CIVIL SERVICE AND ENDURING REFORMS

Tayo Ogunbiyi

Institutionally, the Lagos State Civil Service Commission has the statutory responsibility of ensuring that the State Civil Service exudes the highest grade of professionalism in order to really serve as the government’s engine room is the Civil Service Commission (CSC). The establishment of Civil Service Commission as one of the State Executive Bodies was based on the provision of Sections 197 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The composition and powers of the Commission are set out in Part II of the Third Schedule of the Constitution; The Commission was established by the Lagos State Civil Service Commission Law CAP. L10 (1979 No. 7) of 16th December, 1979.  The provision in Section 10 of this Law gave the Commission the power to make regulations for the exercise of its powers; hence the Lagos State Civil Service Commission Regulations was made with effect from 1st June, 1981.

For the Civil Service to really be effective, it requires transformation at multiple levels. The way public sector organisations behave, how they view their roles, and how they share information between departments determines the effectiveness of making and implementing policies. A competent and well motivated Civil Service is a prerequisite for maintenance of good governance anywhere in the world.  Thus, the concern for effective and efficient Civil Service is universal.

Civil Servants are particularly important in delivering effective governance since they are instrument to making and implementing policies. However, the ability to carry any of these functions out effectively is intricately tied to the degree and quality of competence, that is, the degree to which public officials use their ability in a way that is accountable, transparent and respect for the rule of law and people’s basic human rights.

With professionals and non-professionals serving as instrument for implementation of government’s policies, programmes and plans, the Lagos State Civil Service has played a most significant role in the height so far achieve by the State. The Civil Service Commission, in particular, has played significant role in offering advice to Government on strategic people management; supporting the implementation of Government policy; contributing to effective Civil Service leadership and evaluating and reporting on the performance of the human resource in the state employment.

Presently, Lagos State Civil Service has gained improved work ethics, attitudinal change and productivity as a result of the new policy.  It is pertinent to mention for the purpose of experience sharing that part of what precipitates efficiency in the Lagos State Civil Service is the method of promotion among staff. Civil servants have been spurred into higher level of productivity since the State began to use on-the-job assessment of officers and oral interview which is based on structured training attended by officers for promotion. As earlier affirmed, promotion of Civil Servants is one of the vital responsibilities of the civil service commission.

Presently, all stakeholders are now beginning to observe and understand the efforts being deployed to revitalize and advance competence in the Lagos State Public Service.  Across board, objective appraisal testifies to a Lagos State Civil Service that is now friendlier, goal driven, people focused and dynamic. But then, the journey of excellence is a continuous one that has no finishing line. Thus, we should not rest on our oars. This is Lagos, the Centre of Excellence.

So far, the Commission has been able to consolidate on the new model of staff performance approval for promotion exercise through injection of capacity development on the tenets of the State development plan for eligible officers. On staff promotion, the process is becoming more effective and standardized. In 2018, for instance, for the first time in the history of the State Civil Service, 3,803 candidates recorded 100% performance in the promotion exercise.

As part of ongoing reforms, the Commission now experience timely production of different service letters and other processes with the use of Electronics Data Management System (EDMS) and the Letter Management System (LMS). Consequently, issuance of promotion letters is now done promptly while the financial implication of promotion now takes effect in July as against September that used to be the practice. Also, as the need surfaces, recruitment of new officers is being done progressively. Recruitment of four hundred and twenty one officers into the civil service

In order to accommodate appearance of applicants for career review, the Commission has restructured its Policy Meeting days to Tuesdays and Thursdays. Similarly, it has begun the commencement of the digitization of the Commission’s responsibilities through Upgrade of the Letter Management Software for production of Promotion Letters and other service documents.

Other reforms that have been put in place to ensure smooth operation at the Commission include, among others, introduction of the E-Registry which has greatly contributed to the improved image of the Commission, effective synergy with all MDAs, E- Recruitment Exercise, introduction of alternative to Written Promotion Examination, review of Conversion Rule for Officers on GL 12 and above as well as the production of Annual Report to measure success on annual basis through statistical graphs.

Equally, the review of the Civil Service Rules to Public Service Rules and Circulars has helped in handling issues relating to advancement, regularization; discipline etc. at Commission’s Policy meetings while the Administration and Human Resources Implementation Report and Human Resource Change Plan have significantly placed the Commission on a high pedestal in terms of improved Human Capital.

Another key civil service initiative of this present government is that of Citizens Relationship Management (CRM).This is an electronic portal that will allow the citizens to interact with the Government electronically thereby minimising the need to physically visit the State Secretariat, Alausa, as presently obtains. This project is at the data gathering stage and on completion, it is expected that citizens would be able to carry out End to End transactions, make general enquiries and provide feedback on service online.

The necessity of virile civil service to the health of a nation is such that and American anthropologist and physician, Dr. Paul Edward, once said: ‘You can’t have public health without working with the public sector. You can’t have public education without working with the public sector in education’’.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the health of a nation rest on good politicians and men and women who constitute the permanent staff of the various departments of government. Indeed, going by the very obvious direct relationship between good governance and a virile and visionary civil service, no government anywhere in the world has ever surmounted the enormous task of turning the fortune of its nation around without resort to fundamental reform of its civil service. Herein lies the significance of current reforms in the Lagos State Civil Service.

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