THE Civil Service in Nigeria is a creation of the British colonial system with a fusion of Western administration and African traditional values. According to available records, it has passed through four distinct phases, namely the first phase (1914-1946); the second (1946-1966); the third (1966-1979) and the fourth (1979-date)
In plain words, the first phase, accordiing to Cross River State Brochure on the Celebration of 2013 Civil Service Day is generally regarded as the era of administrative unitarism; the second, viewed as the era of decolonization; the third, a period of new federalism and the fourth regarded as the era of New Dawn, which has witnessed an avalanche of reforms, mostly fronted by leaders of the current democratic journey, which began in 1999
Some of these reforms are in the establishment of National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, NEEDS, whose version at the state level is, State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, SEEDS and the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS.
Other reforms are SERVICOM, budgeting through the instruments of Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF and MTSS, Due Process and the New Contributing Pension Scheme, which states governments are maximizing largely in order to regulate and better the lots of the Civil Service.
No doubt, this steady transmutation points to the fact that the potpourri of civil service in Nigeria, spanning nearly a century, has become expedient to reflect on the expedition with a view to consolidating its gains, but without neglecting the challenges associated with its transformation.
Cross River State where Senator Liyel Imoke is superintending, is not left out. It recently marked the Civil Service Day, in line with the proclamation of the first Biennial Conference of African Ministers of the Civil Service, which held in 1994 in Tangiers, Morocco with a resolve to set aside every June 23 in order to commemorate the African Day of Administration and Civil Service.
The commemoration of the day in Cross River State was with pomp as eminent personalities within and outside the state Civil Service graced the day. Lectures on topical issues like strengthening citizen participation and responsibility, enhancing accountability, transparency and integrity, enhancing access to information and empowering Manpower Development Institute, MDIs, to build capacity for service improvement, were delivered by erudite scholars.
Yet, the most exhilaration moment of the celebration was the presentation of Excellent Performance Awards by the Government to deserving workers, Ministry, Department and Agency. These acts are in line with the commitment of the Cross River State government to reward excellence, enhance welfare through prompt payments of salaries and other entitlements and create conducive working environment for all categories of its workforce.
Senator Imoke, at the occasion, reiterated the resolve of government to reciprocate every positive gesture of the workforce through punctuality, discipline and hard work, irrespective of their grade level. He charged the workers, who turned up in large numbers to mark the day, to shun acts inimical to the service, such as truancy, improper dressing, bribery and corruption.
Top in the list of Best Performing Ministry in terms of comportment, general administrative competence and productivity was the State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources; the Cross River Broadcasting Corporation, CRBC, came second, while the Office of Auditor General for Local Government emerged third.
Directorate Staff Awardees were Mr Egbe Vincent of the State Ministry of Women Affairs (first), Mrs Monica Henshaw of CRBC (second) and Mrs Oju, V.M of Communication Technology Development Department (third). The Non-Directorate Staff Awardees were Egbe Odoma George, Office of Head of Service (first), Mr Ukpai Ukpai of the Ministry of Information (second) and Ochang Thomas Otafu of the Office of Secretary to the State Government, came third.
Each benefitting MDA got a plaque, while each award winning staff was decorated with official crest of the state government by the Governor, in addition to cash and gift items. Egbe Vincent, for instance, got a generating set and N50,000; Henshaw got a video camera, while Oju got a hair dryer and its accessories.
Other gifts were cassava grinding machine for Egbe Odoma; a double door Thermocool refrigerator for Ukpai and sewing and weaving machine for Ochang.
In her welcome address at the occasion, the Head of Service, Mrs Mary-Theresa Ikwen, Mini, said the motivation sprung from the need to remind everyone that the Civil Service was an indispensable institution for the efficient and effective running of government and to reflect on successes, failures, problems and challenges recorded so far in the service.
It was also an occasion to re-examine and refocus civil servants towards the improvement of the service through positive attitudinal change, commitment to assigned responsibilities and duties as well as improved service delivery to the public.
Some achievements recorded by the government through the instrumentality of the service, according to Head of Service of Cross River State are, industrial harmony between government and industrial unions in the state, capacity building for workers were a total of 17 training workshop were conducted for workers in 2012 alone. The state also recorded the convocation of 350 graduates from MDI and establishment of ultra-modern ICT laboratory in MDI for internet connectivity and training opportunities.
On staff welfare scheme, Mrs Ikwen noted that 200 housing units had been built and handed over to benefitting workers on owner-occupier basis of the phase 1 programme; distributed brand new Kia Rio and Lifan saloon cars to beneficiaries and acquired household items by civil servants through collaboration of her office with private sector partners.
In terms of general administration of the service, the Head of Service said the Cross River State government has successfully set up five standing committees, viz: Monitoring, Manpower Needs Assessment, Capacity-Building, Performance Committees to help reposition the state service, among others. In addition, she mentioned the establishment of Human Resource Desk Offices in 98 MDAs and 74 computers and flash drives distributed to Human Resource Desk Officers to enhance their performance.
Mr. OTEI OHAM is a staff of the Cross River State Ministry of Information.