Learner’s Submission: Human Capital in Nigeria’s Public Sector

“It is crucial to start this article by explaining what Human Capital is. This, I believe, will help in giving a better understanding of the analysis that will now follow.

As aptly explained by UNPAN, ‘Human Capital is not only people per se, but the collective sum of their attributes, life experience, knowledge, inventiveness, creativity, energy, and motivation they choose to invest in their work.’

It is not without a doubt that no country can develop beyond the capacity of its Public Service. Evidently, this is where Nigeria’s problem lies. Nigeria’s Public Service is fast becoming the most under-performing organisation in the world.  Looking several years back, Nigeria had a vibrant Public Service in the 1960s when independence just became a reality through to the 1980s; this was a period when the nation’s best university graduates vied for posts in the Public Service, a period when the Public Service was attractive. But things have changed completely; Nigeria’s Public Service is presently in total shambles, to put it mildly. It has become a hideout for the lazy, illiterate, semi-literate, etc. These are the attributes that have birthed the dysfunctional system in which the Nigerian people find themselves in.

In Nigeria of today, positions in the Public Service are no longer occupied by the qualified applicants but by those who have ‘connections’ with someone in the office where an applicant is needed, an act that is dangerous to the well being of the entire nation.

That is not all; one of the most unfortunate epidemics in Nigeria’s Public Service is the problem of Ghost Workers, a masked group of people who get paid without working. To this, The Point newspaper published an article which it titled: Ghost Workers and the Nigerian Project. Here is an abstract:

‘One Socio-economic cancer deeply eating into the fabrics of our national development agenda is the debilitating phenomenon of ubiquitous ghost workers, especially in the rank and file of the public sector. From the Local Government to Federal Ministries, Directorates and agencies, the story is pathetically that of a painful paradox where names of non-existent workers are used to stuff up the payroll as ghosts that draw salaries for doing nothing at a time when living, able and qualified youths are roaming the streets of major cities in the country in a forlorn search of employment opportunities.

Minister of State for Finance announced to a shocked nation and an ever astonished world last week that a total of 45,000 ghost workers who earned over N100 Billion had been uncovered from about 251 ministries, directorates and agencies through the application of the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System, IPPIS.’

As the most valuable asset to the Public Service, there is need to revamp the overall efficiency and effectiveness of Human Resources to attract development. To achieve this, the following points are suggested as part of the steps that will facilitate reformation of Nigeria’s Public Service.

To achieve excellence, recruitment into the Public Service should be stritctly on merit. Without this, the whole reformation will amount to nothing.

Since a people’s livelihood depends on the outcome of their actions, public office holders should be accountable for every decision they make, financially and otherwise.

This is the fundamental problem in Nigeria’s Public Service. Political office holders have such huge influence that they often sneak people into any public office of their choice. This must be stopped if Nigeria is willing to restructure its Public Service for excellence.

Public Servants must receive first-class training to meet the nation’s developmental aspirations. This should be done often, using strategies employed by developed nations of the world.

Public Servants should be motivated from their salary to all their entitlements. If this is not done, it will be difficult to get the best from them.” – Elias Ozikpu – Lagos, Nigeria


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