Effectiveness in a changing and challenging world underpinned by the core values of impartiality, integrity, honesty and objectivity are generally regarded as the hallmarks of a modern public service. It is often the responsibility of the civil/public service to be the guardian of these principles and, in particular, to ensure that appointments are made solely on merit following fair and open competition.
In the last 17 years of democratic governance in Nigeria, Lagos State has continually experienced policy success and it won’t be an overstatement to affirm that the success story of the State is among other variables attributable to its investment in the employment of qualified and competent human resources into its civil/public service.
Institutionally, the agency that has the statutory responsibilities of ensuring that the Lagos 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 Commission is the statutory agency charged with the responsibility of recruitment, confirmation of appointment, promotion, discipline, termination/dismissal, transfer of service, secondment as well as retirements.
To the credit of the Commission, recruitment of qualified personnel into the State’s Civil Service, not minding State of origin or religion and other primordial sentiments has helped to facilitate improved formulation and implementation of government policies and programmes. In other words, the Lagos State Civil Service Commission has been helping to further enhance Lagos’ status as a mini-Nigeria. Aside, the Federal Civil Service, there is no other State in the federation that absorbs Nigerians from all walks of life into its service as Lagos. The watchword is competence and ability to add value to the system.
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 Commission has also played significant role in offering advice to Government on strategic people management; supporting the implementation of Government policy; contributing to effective public service leadership and evaluating and reporting on the performance of the human resource in the state employment.
In line with global labour practice, recruitment into Lagos Civil Service is on probation of two years. The purpose of probation is to find out whether a probationer has the mettle to make a satisfactory career in the service. The Commission does eventually confirm appointment after series of induction and training programmes in addition to security screening by relevant agencies.
The training and staff development is an issue and area where Lagos State is investing in to ensure it maintains staffers who are technically and socially competent, and capable of career advancement. Building skills and capacity of the public servants to do a thorough, professional and efficient job, the State’s Structured Training Plan (STP) and noticeable impacts of this in terms of efficient service, symbolizes the State Government’s unwavering dedication to keeping Lagos on the path of sustainable progress. STP, a mandatory Learning & Development Programmes has, no doubt, integrated dynamism and competence into the State’s public service.
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 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.
Recruitment, training and promotion process in the Lagos Civil Service is a factor in the vibrancy of the State’s civil servants who with requisite skills have aided the success of government’s policies, programmes and projects. Since human resource is a major source of competitive advantage, attracting, selecting and retaining the right people to the State civil service has been of great importance to the Commission. This has also contributed to environment of trust, competence, and sincerity of purpose, accountability and due process.
Discipline is particularly important in the Lagos State Civil Service, because the large number of staff would mean that confusion will pervade if there were no standards of good behavior or if these were not adhered to. Because of this, the civil service has provided a somewhat comprehensive rule under which discipline is carried out.
First, the civil service rules frowns at a whole lot of behaviours. These include lateness, absenteeism without official permission, leaking or divulging of official secrets, falsification or suspension of official records, failure to keep records, inefficiency, dishonesty, corruption, insubordination , drunkenness, foul language, false claims against government, financial embarrassment, engaging in unauthorized private business, engaging in criminal activities. All the above offences, among others, are official misconducts, punishable in the Lagos State Civil Service.
Of unique and importance is selection factor of credible people to serve in the Commission itself. For instance, the immediate past Chairman of the Commission, who served for ten years, was a man of immeasurable integrity who serves the state with passion. During his tenure, the credibility and pride of our civil service was never in doubt. Civil Servants got promotion in time and there was better communication between the Service and the government.
Though, many erroneously see the work at the Commission as chiefly that of record keeping, but it is much more than that. The task of recruiting, selecting and placement of suitable and qualified candidates into the State Civil Service is quite an enormous one. Cheerfully, the Commission has handled it very well, thus ensuring that the engine room of the government is properly oiled to be able to effectively carry out the programmes of government in a way that will meet the yearnings and aspirations of the citizenry.
Seriki is of the Public Affairs Unit, Lagos State Civil Service Commission, Alausa, Ikeja