The Permanent Secretary (GSO) Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), Mr. Olusegun Adekunle emphasized that it is through effective implementation of key reforms in the various critical sectors in the Public Service that the Country’s persistent low rankings on international development indices such as the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report and the UNDP World Human Development Index among others can be reversed. He said this at the stakeholders’ Technical meeting on Pillar I of the NSPSR held recently at the OSGF Abuja where he declared the occasion opened on behalf of the SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha.
He noted that reversing these indices would require enormous technical and financial investment, for this purpose OSGF is partnering with Africa Global Partnership Support Frame work to organize international resources for the implementation of Nigeria key reform initiatives. Subsequently, the Permanent Secretary reiterated that the meeting of the stakeholders under Pillar one (1) of NSPSR is imperative to promoting understanding of the concepts by MDAs for ease of implementation and ownership, and that the Pillar one is crucial in the operationalization of the NSPSR as all other pillars are connected to it for them to function adequately.
Speaking further, Mr. Adekunle elaborated on the role of OSGF as Chairman of the Steering Committee on Reforms in terms of initiation, planning and design implementation of reform activities across the public service. The Office coordinates the activities of members of Pillar I and it also has the responsibility of implementing key Reforms Initiatives as enumerated by the BPSR on the theme “Enabling Governance and Institutional Environment”
The Perm. Sec. highlighted the importance of SERVICOM Help Desk Radio Programme championed by National SERVICOM Office. He said the programme is structured to heighten public awareness over the damaging effects of service failure to the society. The programme is hosted on Human Rights Radio and is meant to promote quality and timely service delivery nationwide. He urged the participants to promote the development of robust website capable of showcasing various activities and policies of the Government as well as necessary linkages in their MDAs.
Earlier, Ag. DG BPSR, Mr. D. I. Arabi in his welcome address enumerated the genesis of NSPSR which was commissioned by the National Steering Committee on Reforms (SCR) having the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF) as vice-Chairperson. The BPSR facilitated the development of the Strategy while an inter-Ministerial Team (IMT) of senior public servants with support of internationally experienced advisers and consultants drafted the strategy. He revealed that since then, the strategy document formed the basis for a number of reforms undertaken.
According to him, the NSPSR was updated and refreshed in 2013 and at inception of this Administration of President Muhammad Buhari, the NSPSR was reviewed and updated in 2017 to reflect the current administration’s in-depth and stronger reform focus, particularly in the areas of anti-corruption, Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and the imperatives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Mr. Arabi hinted that the SGF has forwarded the NSPSR as a memorandum of Mr. President for onward presentation to the Federal Executive Council for approval. For the short to medium term, the updated NSPSR focuses on providing the administrative capacity for implementing Nigeria’s ERGP 2017-2020 and ensuring consistency in service delivery across the public service. He therefore urged all participants to contribute effectively to elements of Pillar I and utilize knowledge gained in their various MDAs to implement the relevant provisions of the Pillar. By this the Federal Public Service will continue to be indispensable instrument for the implementation of government policies.
At the technical meeting, a panel of discussants was constituted with representatives from some of the MDAs under Pillar 1, they are: BPSR, Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), SERVICOM, Federal Ministry of Justice, Independent Corruption Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), and the Institute of Conflict Resolution to examine operationalization of the NSPSR under the pillar 1.
Mr. Femi Edgal, Assistant Director (Tax) of the FIRS gave an insight as to why there is need for all MDAs to cooperate with the Agency for a seamless revenue collection for the government. He lauded the Government’s initiative on electronic Tax Clearance Certificate (e-TCC) which is an evidence of payment for taxes collected and issued every three years upon remittance. According to him, the FIRS has been given the target to generate 6 trillion in 2018 as against the 4.02 trillion generated in 2017.
The FIRS representative however, lamented the 200 million naira said to be hanging in the MDAs unremitted and used the opportunity to solicit support from the Public Service to cooperate with the Agency in its revenue drive so as to increase the resource generation for government which means increased allocation to MDAs, the 36 states and FCT.
Briefing, Mrs. Jumai Abdullahi of Service Compact with all Nigerians (SERVICOM) elaborated on the various reforms and innovation currently going on in the SERVICOM. She said, SERVICOM has Nodal Officers who man the Help Desks in their various units ever ready to attend to the people as the need arises.
Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) was equally represented. The representative explained the mandate of the Agency as established by section 6: of the Enabling Act. He lamented poor funding as the major challenge confronting the Agency from delivering on its mandate. He also mentioned inadequate officers.
The Ministry of Justice representative described the Ministry as custodian of the Rule of law of the country. He said that the Attorney General of the Federation ensures that government is run according to the dictates of the laid law. Speaking further, he said that for Nigeria to function as a lawful state, the citizens need to be committed to the rule of law; the government should practice corporate federalism; engage robust legal framework and demystify the law. This will then lead to high level awareness which will decimate impunity. He added that the Government must also on its part always obey court injunctions to avoid conflicts in dispensing justice and called for review of the justice systems in all the states of the federation.
The Institute of Conflict Resolution Commission representative at the stakeholders meeting spoke on conflict sensitization which is a proactive measure that the Government must always engage to avert looming crisis or Communal clashes which have become too rampart in our Country. He advocated that Government should promote the National Peace Academy which was established some years ago for proper orientation of all officers that would be involved in conflict resolutions irrespective of their backgrounds.
Bureau of Public Procurement representative called on MDAs to constantly pass through the due-process during Procurement. He reiterated the importance of Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), which he said is a means of curbing irregularities in government transactions. He noted that the Bureau on its own does not transact or execute any contract but sets the guideline for the MDAs to carry out their procurement processes.
At the end of the session, participants concluded that the issue of paucity of funds in doing Government business should not stop the implementation of the laudable policy reforms meant to improve services. As such, there was call for the Government to make funds available if there must be tangible results from the ongoing reforms.