Strategies to Improve the Competence of Public Service Officials In Nigeria
Public services play a central role in the well-being, sustainability and growth of communities, cities, and nations. Nigeria’s quest to attain the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be a mirage without the public officers taking the driving seat to lead the process. Improvement in the capacity and ability of public service officials can be harnessed to improve a range of public services (e.g. health, policing, education, environment, local government, policy-making, etc.). The changing global economy, technology, politics, and increased expectations for government performance demand new attention to the complex set of public skills and capacity. Public officials are experiencing intense pressures emanating from increasing global integration - economic, political, social and cultural.
New technology, new ways of organizing work, new means of delivering services and an increasing reliance on temporary employment have redefined the nature of public service. Meeting all these challenges requires a unique combination of knowledge, skills, abilities, traits and behaviours, effective human resource development policies and strategies to nurture those competencies. Against the background problems of persistent low performance of the Nigerian Public Service and the inability of the sector to deliver efficient and effective public goods and services, the Obasanjo civilian administration (1999 – 2007) identified the need for a more comprehensive and wide-ranging public sector reforms as part of its overall development framework.
The success of the plethora of reform programmes of the federal government of Nigeria will largely depend on the quality of its workforce (public officers) that is statutorily charged with the responsibility to analysing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating policies and programmes of government. For example, if the service fails to deliver to certain standards, a country can lose its competitiveness, lose its direct investments and can lose its talented individuals to other countries (brain drain). While the choices are not always this simple, the ramifications and repercussions of a non-performing public sector are great in its impact and implications to the nation, its people, and its economy. To be able to deliver such levels of service, on the current scale and complexity, the fundamental personal qualities of those who deliver the service becomes imperative and vital.
The objective of this paper is to identify strategies for improving the competence of public service officials in Nigeria with a view to moving public management beyond bureaucracy and promote greater economy, efficiency and effectiveness in public service delivery.
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