Comments on Monetization of values & Corruption: “No nation can rise beyond the capacity of its public service”

September 27, 2013

Iju Public Affairs Forum

The comments below from one of this blog’s most frequent visitors on the essay “Monetization of values… ” in Nigeria is worth sharing.  Dr. Rafiu A. sees the dismantling and destruction of the Civil Service by successive regimes as, perhaps, “the root cause of the problem with corruption.”
The title is taken from a paper titled “no nation can rise beyond the capacity of its civil service”, by Ms. Amal Pepple, a Federal Minister and one-time Head of Civil Service, who delivered a keynote address at the Federal University of Tech., Akure, at an Iju Public Affairs Forum special edition in 2012.


Indeed, it is about time we re-examine our values. We should however look at the root cause of the problem with corruption. How did it get to this point where, as one official said not too long ago, “anything goes”?
The military stepped in originally, ostensibly to stem corruption, but the way they went about things was not exactly perfect. On that basis alone, corruption could not have been eradicated. Although corruption was tame in those days, the early military leaders unwittingly sewed the seed of corruption, while later ones knowingly outdid themselves in reaping the fruits.

One major fault of governance we overlook today is the fact that the civil service is a mockery of itself. The civil service that we inherited from the British was far from ideal, but it was based on sound and tested principles. The system was so good that the head of state could be absent for a long time, and the service would make up for ensuing lapses. Unfortunately such a system was not designed for military fiats, and a showdown with the military was inevitable.

The first public showdown was when Gowon ordered university lecturers to pack out of their official residence. Such a thing was hitherto unheard of, and it showed the dons that job stability thereafter was debatable. Simply put, they had to start finding other ways to ensure survival beyond the campuses. Then, Murtala/Obasanjo designed a proper coffin for the civil service by summarily dismissing officials, sometimes with such ignominy that made survivors swear not to be caught unprepared in future. By the time Buhari/Idiagbon left, the coffin had been nailed, what with the Lagos State Governor at the time forcing Lagos State civil servants to devote one day of the week to cleaning gutters and drains. His ridiculous reason: they had nothing better to do.

It is not surprising then that civil servants would do everything to feather their nests. We should not forget that they are in charge of everything anyway. So, with time, the service became the only body or thing that matters in the country, very far from the distant second position, by way of salary and emolument, it was to the public sector. Today, the civil service is the only thing, whether it is by appointment or election. There is no country that can maintain that type of structure and survive for long.

Unfortunately, the civil service is the basic fabric of all facets of governance, from teachers to police, soldiers to ministers; every tier of governance depends on a system of operation otherwise known as the civil service. When that system has been bastardized to the extent that appointments, promotions or recommendations can be made without recourse to properly tested-guidelines, then truly we are operating a system where anything goes.

And when anything goes, then one day, everything will be gone.


You may wish to check out Ms. Pepple’s paper:



FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2013.  8:52 a.m. [GMT]


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