“If a person in Singapore cannot account legally for the wealth he has amassed, there is a presumption of corruption that he must disprove.” – Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew

June 16, 2013

Iju Public Affairs Forum


Paper delivered at a Public Service Forum organised by Oyo State Civil Service.  Friday, June 14th 2013.


By the end of the 1950s, a first-class civil service had its headquarters in this sprawling city, Ibadan.  It was the Western Nigeria Civil Service (WNCS).  The following is the testimony provided by the out-going regional Premier, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in his valedictory address to the Western Nigeria House of Assembly in November 1959:


Our civil service is exceedingly efficient, absolutely incorruptible in its upper stratum, and utterly devoted and unstinting in the discharge of its many onerous duties. For our civil servants, government workers and labourers to bear, uncomplainingly and without breaking down, the heavy and multifarious burdens with which we have in the interest of the public saddled them, is an epic of loyalty and devotion, of physical and mental endurance, and of a sense of mission, on their part. From the bottom of my heart I salute all of them.

Awo. Autobiography of Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1960), p. 293


This is an unusual praise by a political head of government for a civil service institution.  In my fairly extensive study of civil service systems world-wide, the success story of the WNCS of the late 1950s compares favourably with the high performance recorded by civil service institutions at specific historical periods in some countries across the continents.  I would cite as examples Botswana in Africa, Japan and Singapore in Asia, and Britain and France in Europe.


Botswana’s civil service has been acknowledged by both its political leaders and outside observers as one of the key factors that made it possible for the country to emerge as one of only thirteen (13) countries world-wide that recorded sustained high growth (7 per cent and above) for 25 years or longer during the second half of the 20th Century (Commission on Growth and Development, 2008). In Asia, Japan’s post-war civil service with widely-acknowledged honest and competent upper professional levels is reputed to have played a critical role in the country’s post-war economic miracle. In the case of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, a former prime minister, highlights the contribution of the civil service in the country’s rise “From Third to First World”. And in 2008, the country’s incumbent Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, asserted that Singapore’s civil service has remained critical to the country’s good development performance: “[Singapore’s Public Service] is our most sustainable competitive advantage. The investments in Singapore’s future are only realisable with a first-class public service” (bold and italics added).


The loyalty and excellence of Britain’s permanent (career) civil service was advertised to the world when Clement Atlee, Labour Party prime minister who succeeded Conservative Party war-time leader, Winston Churchill, arrived at the post-war negotiations with the same senior civil servants who had attended war-time consultations with Churchill. It was also a demonstration of continuity in governance that a permanent career civil service made possible. Regarding France, the impressive recovery of the country from the devastations of the Second World War within a decade (between 1946 and the mid-1950s) is widely attributed to the country’s civil service with a critical mass of technocrats (technical and administrative professionals) in its upper echelons.


And the following are some illustrations of the good development performance achieved in Western Nigeria by 1959 when the civil service was praised highly for its contributions: giant strides in the fields of agriculture, education, health, housing, transportation, industrial development and communication. Almost everyone in this audience would be familiar with, or would have learned about, these achievements. A significant number in the audience, including the author, benefitted from the most notable of the achievements: the introduction and successful implementation of the “First in Africa” Universal Primary Education (UPE), launched in January 1955.


The outstanding achievements that a first-class civil service made possible, in varying ways, in each of the cases cited as examples above, are encapsulated in the reference in the title of this paper to “good development performance”[1]. The first part of this paper is focused on five key issues in the literature on civil service systems that the success stories highlighted above got right, in varying degrees: (i) career (permanent) civil service; (ii) politics-administration interface; (iii) civil servants and service delivery; (iv) education and training programmes for civil servants; and (v) ethical standards in public life (see, for example, J. Raadschelders et al. 2007) The discussion includes references to contemporary “good practices” in civil service administration in a wider range of countries across the continents.  In the second part of the paper, I address two matters arising in respect of Oyo State’s on-going “civil service transformation”:[2] (a) developing a civil service transformation strategy and (b) tackling the challenge of implementation. Some concluding observations constitute the third and final part of the paper.







The origin of the career civil service in Britain is commonly traced to the 1854 Northcote-Trevelyan Report that contains the following:


It may safely be asserted that, as matters now stand, the Government of the country could not be carried on without the aid of an efficient body of permanent officers, occupying a position duly subordinate to the Crown and to Parliament, yet possessing sufficient independence, character, ability, and experience to be able to advise, assist and, to some extent, influence, those who are from time to time set over them.


The German sociologist, Max Weber, born about a decade after the Northcote-Trevelyan Report, later elaborated on the essential features of a career bureaucracy in his influential writings on the subject.  A summary of the main features of a career civil service is provided in Table 1.



Salient Features of a Career Civil Service




1. Recruitment and promotion based on merit

Efficient administration and high productivity

2. Security of tenure

Continuity and predictability in the conduct of government business

Loyalty to the incumbent political executive

Smooth political leadership succession

Efficient administration and high productivity

3. Fixed decent salary

Honest and efficient administration and high productivity

4. Political neutrality

Continuity and predictability in the conduct of government business

Smooth political leadership succession

Loyalty to the incumbent political executive

Fairness and impartiality to all citizens


Source: Author.


In all the cases highlighted in the Prologue to this paper, the adoption and maintenance of a career civil service was critical to the achievements recorded by the civil service in each country.  Significantly, in its World Development Report 1997: The State in a Changing World, the World Bank identified merit-based recruitment and political neutrality as the two crucial features of public services in countries with the capability to perform what it calls the “five fundamental tasks of the modern State”: establishing a foundation of law; maintaining a non-distortionary policy environment including macroeconomic stability; investing in basic social services and infrastructure; protecting the vulnerable; and protecting the environment. I would interpret these “fundamental tasks” as evidence of “good development performance” as defined in this paper.


By 1965, the civil services at the federal and regional levels in Nigeria also exhibited, to a significant extent, the salient features of a career civil service highlighted above and they contributed to the achievement of fairly decent development performance recorded at both the federal and regional levels. The following observation was made in 1965 in an editorial of the Nigerian Opinion, a public affairs magazine published by a group of intellectuals in the University of Ibadan in the 1960s:“… [Nigeria has] civil services that are for the most part recruited on merit, that are geared to efficiency standards, and that are largely untouched by crude politics” (italics and bold added).


Regarding the results recorded, I’ve summarised them elsewhere as follows:


From the advent of the first Nigerian-led governments in the early 1950s to the mid-1960s, the public enjoyed, in varying degrees, quality public services.  Examples included, among others, roads that were regularly maintained by functioning public works departments (PWDs) with a network of maintenance posts, train service that was predictable, quality primary and secondary/technical education, and a premier university (at Ibadan) that was among the best in Africa and was widely regarded at home and abroad as world-class.  Furthermore, stable government policies, a framework of order, and serious attention to implementation resulted in broad-gauged satisfactory development performance that ensured the vast majority of the population lived above poverty level; those below were estimated at about 25 per cent in the mid-1960s.  (Adamolekun, 2011: 43)

The purges of the civil services under the military (1975 and 1984) amounted to an abandonment of security of tenure while politicisation under successive military and civilian administrations marked the end of political neutrality. And the primacy of merit-based recruitment and promotion has been replaced by the primacy of “Federal Character” principle, interpreted in practice as a crude, opaque, and sometimes blatantly unfair, quota system. I would argue that there is a strong linkage between the country’s poor development performance today (poverty level at between 60 and 70 per cent) and civil services that have been weakened by the abandonment of the salient features of a career civil service system





Evidence that one can really talk of smooth and cooperative partnership between politics and administration in Western Nigeria between 1954 and 1959 is provided by the reciprocal admiration of chief Adebo, head of the civil service, for the politicians with whom they worked:


When I served under Chief Awolowo in the West, he used to say that I should tell my colleagues that he could deal with the politics of the issues. What he wanted were detailed analysis of their implications. With the facts at his disposal, he felt that he would be in a better position to decide on what to do. This sums up my own view too about the relationship that should exist between ministers and civil servants (Adebo, 1979).


In his autobiography, Our unforgettable years (1983), Chief Adebo, shed further light on the relationship between politicians and civil servants in Western Nigeria as follows:


…the Minister was the boss, he had the last word on policy decisions and the most perfect relations between him and his Permanent Secretary could not alter that fact… while a Minister could always overrule or otherwise reject the advice of his Permanent Secretary, the Secretary had always to ensure that the transaction was on record.


There is a striking similarity between Adebo’s viewpoint and what Clement Atlee (British prime minister, 1945-1951) said on the subject in 1956:


The relationship between the Minister and the civil servants should be – and usually is – that of colleagues working together in a team, cooperative partners seeking to advance the public interest and the efficiency of the Department… The partnership should be alive and virile, rival ideas and opinions should be fairly considered, and the relationship of all should be of mutual respect – on the understanding, of course, that the Minister’s decision is final and must be loyally and helpfully carried out, and that he requires efficient and energetic service.


In asserting the Minister’s primacy in policy/decision-making, they are also both affirming the doctrine of public accountability that is explicated in Diagram 1 below. A framework for understanding the respective roles of politicians and civil servants in policy-making is provided in Diagram 2.





Classical Triad of Public Accountability




Source: Author.


The main points in Diagram 2 are in the form of three postulates: (a) politicians dominate the issues which have a high content of political judgment and a low content of technical expertise (e.g. policy on future development of society or a national policy on decentralization);  (b) administrators dominate the issues with a high content of technical expertise and a low content of political judgment (e.g. science and technology policy);  and (c) in regard to issues with both a high content of political judgment and technical expertise, politicians and administrators take decisions by cooperative effort, as partners in a joint enterprise (e.g. the budget process).  Each postulate is represented in the Diagram.



The Respective Roles of Politicians and Administrators in Policy Formulation.


Source: Author.


In many modern States the political executives at the head of high-level governmental administration are supported by loyal and committed political appointees who are expected to increase their capability to effectively perform their lead role in policy-making. This category of public officials constitute a distinct group within the leadership of governmental administration: they are known variously as special advisers in the United Kingdom, political administrators in Germany, political appointees in the USA and members of ministerial cabinets in France.  They are usually persons with decent levels of techno-professional competence relevant to their positions and are responsible for policy advocacy.  They are not bound by the norms of anonymity and political neutrality that bind the career bureaucrats: they are able to speak out in public in defence of policies being pursued by the political leadership.  This enhances open and accountable government: those responsible for government policies can be identified and named for praise or blame. 


In Nigeria, special advisers were first introduced in the 1979 Constitution and maintained in the 1999 Constitution.  Since 1999, their “tribe” has increased hugely in numbers but the advantages of serving as sources of “policy advocacy” and enhancing accountable government have not been realized. Special advisers/assistants that contribute to policy making are a rarity.  And because the emphasis on choice of advisers/assistants is largely based on patronage, many of them are incapable of helping to enhance openness and accountability. 


To promote harmonious relationship between political executives and other political appointees (special advisers et al) on the one hand and higher civil servants on the other, periodic retreats are organized at both the federal and State levels. The objective of the retreats is to familiarise the two groups with the multifarious dimensions of their joined up relationships in the conduct of government business. However, the retreats appear to have had limited positive impact as mutual distrust persists with varying degrees of intensity at both levels of government (see Adamolekun, 2013). Some degree of harmonious relationship probably exists in a handful of states (for example, Lagos State).





The primary purpose of government in the modern State is the delivery of goods and services to the public (see Diagram 1). Normally, a government that is acknowledged as recording good development performance over specific time spans must have fulfilled this purpose.  Because the primary instrument of governments for service delivery is the civil service, we highlighted as first-class civil services those that made outstanding/exceptional development performances possible in some countries in the Prologue to this paper. 


In the “classical triad of public accountability” in Diagram 1, government’s obligation to deliver services to the public is clearly indicated as the responsibility of civil servants.  Crucially, it is the extent of public satisfaction with the services delivered that determines whether or not the mandate to govern is renewed for an incumbent government. Of course, this thesis assumes that political power is won through competitive periodic elections that are free, fair, transparent, and credible. 


It is important to stress that some aspects of three of the other selected features of civil service systems contribute to the capability of civil servants to deliver services efficiently and effectively:

·         In Table 1, merit-based recruitment and promotion, security of tenure, and fixed decent salary are linked to quality service delivery

·         It is through relevant education and training programmes that civil servants are equipped for ensuring effective and efficient service delivery.

·         The point highlighted in the “classical triad of public accountability” about fair and impartial delivery of services is best assured when high ethical standards are enforced in the civil service.


Performance contracts and citizens’/ service charters: In recent decades, two of the tools and techniques featured in public administration literature for enhancing and sustaining good performance in service delivery are (i) performance contracting and (ii) citizens’/ service charters. New Zealand took the lead among members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in embracing performance contracting in the 1980s and by the 2000s, a majority of OECD countries were implementing one kind of performance contracting or another.  Normally, performance contracting for civil servants is within the context of a comprehensive civil service administration reform programme that seeks to enhance the performance of civil servants through a combination of incentives for good performance (achievements of targets linked to government programmes and projects) and sanctions for unsatisfactory performance.  However, for performance contracts to yield the desired results, there is need to pay attention to the following critical problems highlighted in assessments of its use in public sector organisations world-wide: inadequate transparency in the contracting process; ineffective monitoring and evaluation of the contracted staff (fear of manipulation); and weak enforcement of contracts (notably in respect of sanctions for unsatisfactory performance). Furthermore, the learning curve for effective implementation of contracts (that is, internalization of contracting culture) is a process that could take several years.


On the initiative of the Federal Civil Service Commission, State civil service commissions were introduced to performance contracting in 2011. It was eventually rolled out in May 2013 at the federal level.  However, because there is no linkage of performance contracting to an on-going civil service administration reform it is unlikely to make a difference to the prevailing weak implementation capacity of the federal civil service.[3]  Some elements of performance contracting are being implemented in Lagos State through the establishment of targets for MDAs that are monitored and evaluated on a regular basis; but there is no formal commitment to performance contracting.


Regarding Citizens’/Service Charters, Britain was the lead exponent from the early 1990s before many OECD members later adopted and adapted it.  When citizens’/service charters were launched in Britain, they were linked to a key aspect of the country’s civil service administration reform: the establishment of executive agencies that operate at arms’ length from MDAs to ensure that they enjoyed autonomy whilst being accountable for agreed results.  In 2004/2005, Nigeria’s “SERVICOM” (“Service compact with all Nigerians”) was introduced, inspired by Britain’s Citizens’ charters, and was run as a British Government technical assistance programme under the Department for International Development (DFID) for a few years.  Again, because it lacks linkage to an on-going civil service administration reform it has failed to make any appreciable effect on service delivery.  Some States have adopted SERVICOM but I am not aware of a SERVICOM programme that is impacting positively on service delivery in the country.   





France is the pre-eminent example of a country whose civil service has contributed to the achievement of good development performance largely because of a solid education and training programme for civil servants. The Ecole nationale d’administration (ENA) – National School of Administration – is the best known among the grandes ecoles that produce the widely-acclaimed administrative and technical professionals for the French civil service.  The ENA that several countries across the continents have tried to copy combines merit-based recruitment (of its students) with merit-based posting at the end of a 30-month-long education and training programme: admission to the ENA is through open, competitive examinations and students select the cadre (corps) of the civil service of their choice in the order of their performance at the end of their ENA programme.  The predictable result is the emergence of some elite cadres/corps that champion high performance in the French civil service. 


In Britain, civil servants that possess the level of “ability” for good performance as defined in the 1854 Northcote-Trevelyan Report were presumed to be the graduates of Oxford and Cambridge universities that dominated the service until after the Fulton Commission of the mid-1960s recommended post-graduation professional training for both administrative and technical positions in the service.  Evidence of movement in the direction of the French model in Britain and four other “older” Commonwealth countries is summarised in Box 1 below.


Box 1: Good International Practices in Capacity Development


Between 2002 and 2005, four “older” Commonwealth countries established new well-endowed institutions to assume primary responsibility for capacity development efforts focused on the senior ranks of public servants in their respective countries: The Australia and New Zealand School of Government (2002), Canada School of Public Service (2004), and UK’s National School of Government (2005).  In the case of the UK, the school’s mission is “to develop leadership in the public service, increase professionalism, deliver outcomes, and improve efficiency.”  It is noteworthy that each of the three institutions is expected to become “world- class” within the shortest time-frame possible. (Note: UK’s 25-year old Civil Service College was transformed into the National School of Government).

Source: National Strategy for Public Service Reform (2009).


Nigeria, like other African countries, paid attention to the provision of education and training

programmes for civil servants from the immediate pre-independence years through the first

decades of independence to the present with the regional governments far ahead of the federal government: the Institutes of Administration at Zaria and Ife enjoyed high reputation both within and outside the country. Following the Udoji Report of the 1970s, attention to education and training programmes for civil servants was demonstrated at the federal level through the establishment of the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) that is currently being rehabilitated after several years of neglect.  The federal government has also established the Public Service Institute of Nigeria (PSIN) modelled on the institutions of the older Commonwealth countries highlighted in Box 1. However, the PSIN lacks a legal framework, a chief executive officer (CEO) and a core directing staff.  Several States are establishing or strengthening Staff Development Centres/Institutes/Colleges for building the capacity of their bureaucrats (for example, Lagos, Jigawa, Kwara, Ondo and Ekiti States).  These efforts, too, need to be scaled up and sustained. Universities (public and private) could partner with the governments in their respective zones in enhancing the quality of their capacity development programmes.





Civil servants and politicians “form the managing personnel of the vast enterprise of getting rich through participation in authority”.

       Zulfikar Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan, cited in The Economist, Aug.22nd 1998, p. 30.


“If a person in Singapore cannot account legally for the wealth he has amassed, there is a presumption of corruption that he must disprove.” 

       Lee Kuan Yew, Former Prime Minister of Singapore, cited in the Los Angeles Times, August 1999


In Chief Awolowo’s praise for the Western Nigeria Civil Service cited in the Prologue, he pointedly asserted that it was “absolutely incorruptible in its upper stratum”. And with an incorruptible upper stratum, it is logical to expect that high ethical standards would be enforced throughout the service.  Taking corruption as a proxy for measuring ethical standards, the civil services highlighted in the Prologue are in countries characterised by low level corruption, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) produced annually since 1996.  Thus, for example, Botswana in Africa and Singapore in Asia have consistently featured among countries with high CPI scores, that is, with low levels of corruption. The contrast with Nigeria, characterised by high level corruption, is reflected in Appendix 1


The two quotes provided above shed light on how Singapore seeks to ensure high ethical standards among its public officials on the one hand and the lack of ethical standards among politicians and civil servants in Pakistan on the other.  Not surprisingly, Pakistan features among countries with low CPI and high level corruption.  A recent development in France (also cited as an example in the Prologue) sheds light on some of the dimensions to the challenge of ensuring high ethical standards in public life: (i) media exposé of unethical behaviour of a couple of ministers; (ii) president’s decision to enforce high ethical standards through public declaration of his own assets while simultaneously mandating all ministers to do the same within a two-week timeframe and (iii) a minister with a serious unethical behaviour resigned from government and quitted public life!


Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution contains provisions that seek to promote high ethical standards in public life: both elected and appointed public officials are expected to observe the constitutional provisions on anti-corruption (see Appendix 2) and comply with the Constitution’s “Fifth Schedule” on “Code of Conduct for Public Officers” that spells out behavioural norms that would help ensure high ethical standards.


The example of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan suggests that enforcement of high ethical standards in public life is not taken seriously at the federal level. The president does not believe in public declaration of assets, one of the key instruments for fighting corruption and enforcing high ethical standard in public life: “I don’t give a damn about it if you want to criticise me from here to heaven. Channels Television can talk about that from morning till night, all the papers can write about it. It’s a matter of principle [that is, decision not to publicly declare his assets]) – President Jonathan, June 24, 2012 during media chat in Aso Rock. And the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) recently summed up the prevailing situation accurately as follows: “No political will to fight corruption” in Daily Trust, February 14th 2013. No wonder, the unending reports of mind-boggling looting by officials in federal ministries, departments and agencies.


However, the Governors in a few States (for example, Ekiti and Oyo) have publicly declared their assets and have made the enforcement of high ethical standards in public life a matter of State policy.  These States stand a good chance of having civil services that can contribute to the achievement of good development performance.





Before the inception of the present administration in the State, all sectors of the economy of the State were in [a] shambles and comatose.  Social decadence, infrastructural decay, insecurity of lives and properties [sic], ageing and archaic Civil Service, to mention but few characterized the State… His Excellency, therefore, resolved to restore, reposition and transform the State to regain its lost pace-setting status (italics and bold added).

                        – Aremu (2013)



6.         Developing a Civil Service Transformation Strategy


It would be logical to develop the conceptual framework of the civil service transformation strategy around the incumbent Administration’s focus on restoring, repositioning, and transforming the State (see quote above). I would like to suggest that the terms of reference for the preparation of the strategy should include a final phase of the transformed civil service: to become a first-class (or world-class) civil service.  Consistent with the vocabulary used in the Prologue, I would recommend the adoption of first-class. I would further suggest a combination of restoring and repositioning activities as Phase One while transformation activities would constitute Phase Two.  Thus, the State’s Civil Service Transformation Strategy will have three phases:

Phase One: Restoring and Repositioning

Phase Two: Transformation

Phase Three: First-Class Civil Service

(See Appendix 3)


If the proposed three-phase strategy is adopted, what the Head of Service has categorized as “Key transformation Achievements” in his “Overview of the State Civil Service under the [State’s] Transformation Agenda…” (Aremu, 2013) would fall under Phase One.  Civil service reform interventions that would tackle the “Challenges Confronting the State Civil Service” as well as those that would flow from the “Strategies to Overcome the Challenges” as listed by him would fall partly under Phase One and partly under Phase Two.  (See, Appendix 4). However, some of the interventions he listed would need to be reformulated with a few additional interventions.  For example, “Restoration and upgrading of internet connectivity”, “E-payment system” and “improved level of ICT literacy” would have to be folded under the broader objective of instituting “an e-governance system” recently announced by the Governor (see The Nation on Sunday, May 26th 2013). 


Concretely, this would require a focus on how best Oyo State can harness the possibilities of Information, Communication Technology (ICT) for achieving the objective of progressively replacing traditional governance with electronic governance (that is, converting paper processes into electronic processes). Of course, “improved level of ICT literacy” would need to be fully explicated to require all staff on Grade Level 7 and above to master the basic ICT tools: Microsoft Office (word processing, power-point and excel) and use of the Internet (for emails and learning).  This could also involve provision of relevant equipment for officials as appropriate. And it is worth stressing that to harness the full potential of ICT OYSG will need to rapidly upgrade its ICT infrastructure (bandwidth, intranet, internet, and internet equipment).


It is reasonable to expect that the five key issues in civil service administration discussed in Part I of this paper – (i) career (permanent) civil service; (ii) politics-administration interface; (iii) civil servants and service delivery; (iv) education and training programmes for civil servants; and (v) ethical standards in public life – will be covered, in varying degrees, in the proposed strategy. Significantly, several of the interventions highlighted in the HoS’s “Overview…” as “challenges”, “strategies” and “accomplishments” would also need to be addressed in the strategy either in the context of the five key issues discussed in Part I or as new issues to be addressed. 


Formal crafting of the strategy could be accomplished within a few months.  A good international practice that I would like to recommend to the Governor is to entrust the task to a mixed team of civil servants and outside experts.  The involvement of civil servants is crucial because they are at the same time the subject and object of the transformation.   But it is also true that civil service transformation is too important to be left to civil servants alone – if it is left to them, it simply will never happen because the civil service is fundamentally a status quo institution. Finally, it is essential that when the strategy would have been completed (including evidence of incorporation of inputs obtained from stakeholders within the State through a consultative process), it should be formally considered and adopted by the State’s Executive Council.  The relevant Committee in the House of Assembly would also need to be informed about the strategy to ensure that issues that would require the legislature’s attention during implementation would not be unduly delayed.


7.         Tackling the Challenge of Implementation


Three important challenges faced by governments that have seriously embarked on implementing civil service transformation strategies are: (a) coordinating the implementation process; (b) financing the cost of the specific interventions to be implemented; and (c) effective communication of transformation activities to civil servants as well as to the general public. 


(a) Coordination of the implementation process

The majority of successful civil service transformation strategies are championed by the head of government or a senior member of government designated by him/her.  It is crucial to have a designated champion at the apex of government.  Then, the different clusters of reform interventions (most often referred to as components) also have champions who join the lead champion to constitute the leadership of the transformation implementation Unit. It should be run by a small number of officials who could be joined by outside experts to assist in ensuring effective implementation of the transformation strategy. The lesson of good practice in successful implementation of civil (public) service transformation strategies is that the implementation Unit should be located in the Office of the head of government (the Governor in the case of Oyo State) with the head reporting directly to the Governor.  The work of the implementation Unit should include the conduct/sponsorship of applied research on civil service administration with particular attention to good practices within Nigeria, Africa, and elsewhere that could be examined for adaptation and adoption in the State.  The Unit should also bear overall responsibility for monitoring, evaluation and reporting of activities carried out under the strategy.


(b)       Financing the cost of implementation

This is relatively straightforward as it requires budgetary provision of funds that would cover the estimated costs of the various interventions adopted in the strategy.  The key issues here are the comprehensiveness and realism of the budget and the appropriation and prompt release of the funds.  Because public financial management reform is a component of most civil service transformation strategies, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance is a member of the leadership of the implementation Unit.  This most often helps ensure adequate funding of civil service transformation interventions. The State can also seek to obtain assistance from development partners that might have provision for supporting some interventions in specific components of the strategy (for example, education and training programme for civil servants).


(c)        Effective communication of transformation activities

Regarding the communication of civil service transformation activities, one common widely-used tool is information, education and communication (IEC). The objective of the IEC would be to ensure that the right and timely information about the strategy is communicated to relevant stakeholders, especially concerned civil servants, on a continuous basis.  Primary responsibility will belong to the State’s Ministry of Information working in close collaboration with a communication expert possessing relevant experience located in the Implementation Unit recommended above. A significant proportion of IEC packages to be disseminated will be derived from monitoring and evaluation results, that is, after the initial phase of communicating the objectives and various activities to be implemented under the strategy to the relevant stakeholders.  It would make sense to explore the use of Yoruba in communicating carefully selected aspects of the strategy both at the initial stage and continuously during implementation.







The following concluding observations focus on three of the five key issues examined in Part I – career civil service, education and training programmes for civil servants and ethical standards in public life – and developing a civil service transformation strategy highlighted in Part II.


(i)         Career civil service

In Part I, I asserted that there is a strong linkage between Nigeria’s poor development performance today and civil services that have been weakened by the abandonment of the salient features of a career civil service system.  The actions that need to be taken to restore a functioning career civil service are clearly stated in the paper.  Regarding “politicisation of the civil service” that the HoS has flagged as a challenge in Oyo State, I would strongly recommend the provision of guidelines on civil servants and political activities.  They could be issued as an Executive Order to all civil servants and extended to the entire public service, as appropriate.


(ii)        Education and training programmes for civil servants

The fact that six of the fifteen “key transformation accomplishments” in the civil service under the State’s Transformation Agenda (see Appendix 4) fall under the rubric of education and training programmes for civil servants (across different grade levels) is evidence of government commitment to this dimension to achieving a well-performing civil service.  I would only add that the State needs an institutional infrastructure that would be tasked with expanding and sustaining appropriate education and training programmes.  A Public Management Programme could be established within the Department of Management Sciences in the State’s Technical University to anchor this function.  And it is important to mention the need for adequate provision of funding for education and training of civil servants in the government’s annual budgets. 


(iii)       Ethical standards in public life

By publicly declaring his assets at the inception of his Administration, the Governor showed his readiness to lead by example regarding the enforcement of high ethical standards in public life.  I would like to suggest that at the beginning of a second term, he might wish to consider demanding that all his commissioners and advisers in the cabinet publicly declare their assets before they assume duty.  With the Governor and his team of political executives showing the way, civil servants are unlikely to dare engage in corrupt practices. The State might also wish to consider taking the lead in codifying and enforcing a code of ethics for civil servants.  The existing omnibus Code of Conduct for public officials provided in the Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitute has, to all intents and purposes, proved ineffective.


(iv)       Developing a civil service transformation strategy

The case for moving rapidly to entrust the task of developing a civil service transformation strategy is fully articulated in Part II.  The main elements of a strategy have already emerged in the interventions focused on the civil service within the government’s on-going Transformation Agenda.  The next step is for the Governor to appoint the team to undertake the task.  It would make sense to conclude the preparation of the strategy within a few months to ensure that a strategic framework is provided to inform and re-orientate the on-going civil service improvement measures under the State’s Transformation Agenda before the end of the year.




My last word is a return to the opening sentence of this paper: “By the end of the 1950s a first-class civil service had its headquarters in this sprawling city, Ibadan”. There were two architects of the Western Nigeria Civil Service “success story”: Chief Obafemi Awolowo at the head of the political leadership team and Chief Simeon Adebo at the head of the administrative leadership team. In 1979/80, as the Dean of the Faculty of Administration at Ife, I visited Chief Adebo twice in Abeokuta to discuss with him the desirability of establishing an endowed chair to be named after him at Ife – the Simeon Adebo Chair of Public Administration.  That would have been the first endowed chair at Ife.  He welcomed the idea but told me that he did not have the means to fund the endowment. However, he observed encouragingly that if the University were to seek to mobilise funds, his well-wishers in both the public and private sectors were likely to provide enough funds to finance the endowment.  Unfortunately, the incumbent leadership at Ife at the time did not share my vision and I abandoned the idea.  I would like to seize the opportunity of this Public Service Forum Lecture to revive the idea by proposing the establishment of a Simeon Adebo Chair of Public Management in the Department of Management Sciences of Oyo State Technical University, Ibadan.  It would be fitting to have the endowed chair in a university here in Ibadan, the headquarters of Africa’s first first-class civil service.  With the permission of the Governor, I would like to suggest that we begin the fund-raising for the endowment here and now.  I commit to contribute the modest sum of one hundred thousand naira (N100, 000=) towards the endowment of the Simeon Adebo Chair of Public Management in the Department of Management Sciences, Oyo State Technical University, Ibadan.


I thank you all for your attention




Adamolekun, L. 2008. The governors and the governed. Towards improved accountability for achieving good development performance. Ibadan: Spectrum Books (NNMA Award Winners’ Lecture).


__________. 2011. “Rethinking Public Service in Nigeria” in L. Adamolekun (ed.). Ideas for Development. Proceedings of Iju Public Affairs Forum Series, 2006-2009. Ibadan: Caligata Publishing Company Ltd, 42-57


Adamolekun, L. (ed.). 2013. Higher Civil Servants and their Political Masters. Ibadan: Caligata Publishing Company Limited.


Adebo, S. 1979. “Personal Profile”, Quarterly Journal of Administration, Ife, XIII, 3&4, 195-199.

__________. 1983. Our unforgettable Years. Ibadan: Macmillan Nigeria.


Aremu, T. O. “An Overview of Oyo State Civil Service Under the Transformation Agenda of Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the Executive Governor of Oyo State” . A Paper presented at the South-West Peer Governance Share Fair Held on 15th-16th May, 2013 in Lagos.  (Alhaji Aremu is the Head of Civil Service, Oyo State).


Awolowo, O. 1960. Awo. The Autobiography of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Cambridge: University Press.


Commission on Growth and Development.  2008.  The Growth Report. Strategies for sustained growth and inclusive development.  Washington, DC: The World Bank.


“National Strategy for Public Service Reform”. Prepared for the Federal Republic of Nigeria by DFID-funded Federal Public Service Reform Programme (FPSRP). Abuja: January 2009.


Raadschelders, J., F. van de Meer and T. Toonen (eds.). 2007. The civil service in the 21st century. Comparative perspectives.  Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


World Bank. 1997. World Development Report 1997: The State in a Changing World. New York: Oxford University Press.










54th of 54



52nd of 52



81st of 85



98th of 99



90th of 90



90th of 91



101st  of 102



132nd of 133



144th of 146



152nd of 159



142nd  of 163



147th  of 180



121st  of 180



130th  of 180



134th of 178



143rd of 183



139th of 176


Source: Transparency International Website: accessed May 31st 2013.


Explanatory Note: The total score is 10. Countries that have consistently scored above 8.0 include Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Singapore and Sweden. Botswana, Cape Verde and Mauritius are three African countries that have consistently scored above 5.0.



1999 Constitution: Provisions Related to Combating Corruption

Section 15 (5)” “The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power”.

Section 140 (1): “A person elected to the office of President shall not begin to perform the functions of that office until he has declared his assets and liabilities…”

Section 149: “A minister of the Government of the Federation shall not enter upon the duties of his office, unless he has declared his assets and liabilities…”

Section 152: “A person appointed as a Special Adviser… shall not begin to perform the functions of his office unless he has declared his assets and liabilities…”

Section 185 (1): “A person elected to the office of the Governor of a State shall not begin to perform the functions of that office until he has declared his assets and liabilities…”

Section 194: “A Commissioner of the Government of a State shall not enter upon the duties of his office, unless he has declared his assets and liabilities…”

Section 196 (4):  “A person appointed as a Special Adviser… shall not begin to perform the functions of the office unless he has declared his assets and liabilities…”




·         Defective of succession planning strategy .

·         Ageing Civil Service .

·         Politicization of Civil Service .

·         Absence of mutual respect, loyalty and trust between the political class and the Senior Civil Servants

·         Poor Management .

·         Corruption.

·         Obsolete rules and regulations .

·         Epileptic power supply


B.    Strategies to overcome the challenges

·         Restoration and upgrading of internet connectivity.

·         Recruitment of post NYSC graduates to fill existing vacancies in the middle level grades in the Service.

·         Review of Rules and Regulations

·         Right sizing of the State Civil Service

·         E-payment system


C.    Key Transformation Accomplishments

·         Approval of stagnation breaking programme for Typists, now Secretarial Assistant/Data Processing Assistants.

·         Training and capacity building for Civil Servants.

·         Promotion of Civil Servants as well as teaching and non-teaching staff in Secondary and Primary Schools in the State with a view to boosting their morale for optimal performance.

·         Resuscitation of catalyst magazine which transformed to Reformer Magazine

·         Resuscitation of Public Service Forum with enhanced caliber of facilitators.

·         Resuscitation of in-service Post-Graduate Diploma in Public Administration (PGDPA) and Masters in Public Administration (MPA) Programme for Administrative Officers .

·         gradual attitudinal re-orientation of Civil and Public Servants from hitherto perception of government business as “no man’s business” to “ownership of government business”

·         approval of enhanced pension allowances for all retired Heads of Service and Permanent Secretaries;

·         Publication and distribution of Worker’s Companion.

·         Distribution of Wall-hangings and information stand for inspiring Statements for motivational creeds.

·         Improved level of ICT Literacy

·         Provision of shuttle buses that convey workers from home to the State Secretariat on daily basis.

·         Life insurance policy for all civil and public servants in the State.

·         Recruitment of 200 Fire Officers in addition to the old less than 100 staff strength for the whole State.

·         Introduction of enhanced hazard allowance for Fire Officers from N50.00 since.





[1] I have defined “development performance” elsewhere as: “a country’s progress in growing its economy, reducing poverty, and moving towards prosperity for all its citizens” (Adamolekun, 2008).  It also includes assuring the security of a country’s territory and the life and property of its citizens.

[2] Information on this is provided in T. O. Aremu, “An Overview of Oyo State Civil Service under the Transformation Agenda of Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the Executive Governor of Oyo State”, May 2013.

[3] The following is the rather optimistic expectation of the federal government on the subject: “We think it is a step in the right direction and we want to see how the federal and state civil service commissions will implement this. In our opinion [performance contracting] is a revolutionary step which will change the way the public service will look at itself now and also it will improve standards, accountability, result delivery particularly in terms of service delivery” – Labaran Maku, Minister of Information,  May 2013, (cited in several newspapers).

 Ladipo Adamolekun, D. Phil. (Oxon), a Nigerian National Merit Awardee, was a Professor of Public Administration and a former Dean of the Faculty of Administration, Obafemi Awolowo/University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.  Adamolekun served as a World Bank Staff for many years and retired as Head of the Togo Office some years ago.  He is now an Independent Scholar.


SUNDAY, JUNE 16, 2013.  4:34 p.m. [GMT]

, , , , , , ,


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

2 Comments on ““If a person in Singapore cannot account legally for the wealth he has amassed, there is a presumption of corruption that he must disprove.” – Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew”


    If the entire nation refuses to utilize the abundant opportunity from many our indigenous scholars, the leaders of the states in the western Nigeria ought to take a cue from Oyo State civil servants’ initiative. If we want to retrace our lost paths and grow economically at all, the place to begin is the civil service. It is civil servants that show politicians/ executive leaders how to steal without trace. It is also the civil servant that can expose the ills and rots by any official to The Press or to prosecuting agencies. No govt. official can successfully get away with a loot without the active connivance of more than one other civil servants.

    Therefore, any Governor who truly desires economic transformation a.l.a Asian Tigers MUST learn from Chief Awolowo’s strategy of building and empowering strong, reliable and committed civil service devoid of politics and corruption. It is possible if there is the will.

    Liked by 1 person


    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Yemi,

      Thanks for this. I’m really appreciative that the lecture has already attracted your interest although I’m not surprised. Two illustrations at the portion marked ‘red’ are still pending.

      Wait till my review, rather, less than a review but an insight of two books that I consider should be THE template for any government serious on reforming its governance and service delivery to its people is presented here. The two volumes – each over 600 pages – on Singapore by the first and last Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, should be ready beginning in the next two or three weeks. That was why I chose the title I did for the lecture which I understand was well received; haven’t finished with it but have gone over it once.

      Rather than follow Awo’s example with the Civil Service, governance in these parts means central figures be they president or governors AND their spouses who are cult figures to civil servants and the public whose pictures litter the environment (and news broadcasts, I’m told since I do not as a personal rule listen to radio or watch tv broadcasts). Of course, amassing personal wealth looted from public treasuries are their only goals even in deciding which projects to pursue for the people.

      Hopefully, improvement on the very sorry state of governance in the country right down to state and local govenrnment levels can start with this kind of step: listening to LOCAL experts who have interest AND stake in the development of the country and not to the expensive so-called international experts before whom presidents cower in these parts.

      My regards & thanks, as always.

      Regards, as always.

      Liked by 1 person


Leave comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: