The Public Service Institute Abuja which operates under the auspices of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation is mandated to provide capacity building for the Federal Civil Servants for improved service delivery in line with the reforms programme of government. Since inception, the Institute has introduced a number of training programmes which include the mandatory training programme for Directorate Staff in the federal civil service, open programmes for both public and private sectors and conversion programme for secretarial assistants to data processing officers.
Prior to the establishment of the apex civil service institute, most federal civil servants patronize off-shore training institutions in the UK, Europe, USA, South Africa and Ghana amongst others. It is worthy to note that attending such programmes come with heavy cost on the funding agencies in form of prohibitive tuition fees and estacode for the beneficiary institutes and the participants.
Besides the Public Service Institute which provides service-wide training programmes, individual Ministries, Departments and Agencies also run their training institutes which provide tailored programmes for their personnel. Some of these institutes include the Radio Nigeria Training School, NTA College, National Institute for Public Information, Foreign Service Academy, Federal Cooperative Colleges, Institute for Labour Studies and the National Institute for Legislative Studies amongst several others.
The Security Organizations such as the Military, and Para Military Services also provide Officer Cadets and Recruits specialized training programmes for their personnel. These institutions include the Nigerian Defence Academy, the Police Academy, SSS Academy, Customs, Immigration, Prisons Service, Federal Road Safety and National Security and Civil Defence Corps.
Recruitment into these military and paramilitary services require personnel both officers and rank and file to undergo rigorous routine physical and academic exercise before they qualify for induction into the respective services. Besides proficiency, the excessive regimentation impacted on the personnel also imbue in them the high ethical values of valour, intense patriotism and espirit de corp attributes hard to find in the core civil service. Career progression in the security services especially the military requires officers to attend a mandatory advancement course at the Tri-Service Command and Staff College or the National Defence College before they are promoted to the commensurate rank.
In contrast, recruitment into the civil service for the senior cadre is conducted by the Federal Civil Service Commission where fresh graduates of diverse disciplines who exceled in their studies are employed and posted to various MDAs based on available vacancies. Other avenues include conversion, transfer and secondment from the State Civil Service to fill available vacancies by experienced personnel.
The Civil service as an institution of the state the world over determines the character and content of governance and define perceptions of service delivery, governance paradigms and leadership efficiency. It provides the backbone and platform for the translation of public policies into actionable programmes and actions that impact the society. Bureaucrats have identified the civil service as a critical institution of the State which should continually evolve new ideas and innovations, and be proactive by devising strategies and action plans that will assist government in addressing developmental challenges and needs to redeem its image and restore public confidence and trust in its capacity to deliver quality services.
Public policy analysts on their part have identified politics, bureaucratic red-tapism, unattractiveness of the sector and overstaffing as some of the major problems facing the Nigerian civil service.
In order to re-create and sustain a modern civil service of the future for Nigeria and make it more attractive and compact, government must build on existing reforms by modernizing its work processes, improving institutional coordination and strengthening work ethics with a view to producing visionaries, implementers and custodians of public policy that will take Nigeria to the next level of development.
Public Affairs Commentator,