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Oyo-Ita and Nigerian civil service’s future

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For better part of the last decade, the Nigerian civil service sector was largely entrapped in a swamp of corruption, incompetence, nepotism, and all the similar negatives adjectives one could think of. Expectedly and quite rightly, this has made many Nigerians jittery.

But Nigeria is not the only victim of the jitters. It is an economic epidemic, so to say, that has befallen the sector especially in Africa. But today, there is greater confidence in the Nigerian Civil Service going by the recent reforms by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, and her team.

Since her appointment as the HoCSF in January 2016, Oyo-Ita has not hidden her vision for the civil service, which is to develop and institutionalize an Efficient, Productive, Incorruptible and Citizen-Centred (EPIC) culture. Going by this development, the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation under the leadership of Mrs. Oyo-Ita came up with a three-year strategy and implementation plan to chart a new course for the service and reposition it as an effective machinery of government for improved service delivery.

The 2017-2020 Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan, which was launched in February 2017, is in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s “Change Mantra” and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). The strategy, according to the OHCSF, is anchored on four goals, which is in tandem with Pillar Four of the National Strategy for Public Service Reforms (NSPSR). This great strategy kicked off on Wednesday, January 31, 2018, with a three-day retreat for members of the Project Management Teams in Calabar, Cross River State.

It is worthwhile to note that this is the Nigeria’s first ever home-grown Federal Civil Service reform. Reforms in the past have been initiated and as well facilitated by the World Bank, Department for International Development and other foreign bodies, but the 2017-2020 FCSSIP, crafted by Oyo-Ita’s team was actualised by civil servants, and is being implemented by civil servants. After her eloquent and graphic presentation in Calabar recently, the Head of Service expressed optimism that the new strategy which has a 100 per cent chance of success is crucial to the success of the ERGP.

“This is a civil service reform that is homegrown, it is not brought to us by the World Bank or some foreign loaner; it is think-tank output which has resulted in a strategy document that we believe can push the service to a world class level that we have all being praying for,” Oyo-Ita said. According to her, “We identified one critical cause of failure of past reforms, we examined the need to have a governance structure, we need to implement these reforms on a day-to-day basis, we also need to micro-manage the actualisation of these reforms.

“It is this project management teams that have been set-up based on the eight key priority areas, and each priority area is being governed by one project management team, brought from across the service. “It is a programme that have been developed by civil servants and it is going to be implemented by civil servants.”

As to be expected Oyo-Ita gave facts and figures to buttress her assertion that in no distant time, all will be well with the Nigerian civil service. But as she herself said at some point, it is not about the money or numbers, but it is essentially about making real difference in the lives of civil servants.

On this score, she was particularly proud of what the implementation of the new strategy will bring, noting that it is a win-win for both the civil service and the country. You may recall that the OHCSF received a presidential intervention following the launch of the strategy in February 2017 that culminated in OHCSF signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG) which is an indigenous donor to support its implementation.

Highlighting part of what the Federal Government tends to gain, Oyo-Ita said, includes the FCSSIP to deliver N60-N120bn savings from cleaning Human Resources data on the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), save about N2.5 billion from digitizing content, train at least 25,000 civil servants through the revamp core modules and cultivate at least 200 future leaders through the Leadership Enhancement and Development Programme (LEAD-P).

The eight PMTs, which were constituted and inaugurated by the HoS in December, 2017, are expected to drive day to day implementation of eight priority initiatives for the 2017-2020 FCSSIP.

The priority areas according to the Head of Service include; capacity development and training; talent sourcing; performance management; staff welfare; culture change; innovation; Integrated Personnel and Pay Roll Information System (IPPIS); and Civil Service Automation. Addressing questions raised on why this new strategy is different from past ones, which had little or no impact in the service, Oyo-Ita said adequate steps were taken to review the failures of past administrations and measures have been put in place to avoid repeating past mistakes.

Explaining further, the Head of Service mentioned some of the expected outcomes to include improved staff competences and skills through well targeted and funded programmes across all grade levels, result-based performance and meritocratic environment for civil servants with clarity on metrics, clear career path value proposition, more innovative civil service that brings in innovation from within and outside the service to improve service delivery, improved productivity and governance for human resources administration across all the processes with full transparency on civil and public servants in the system.

As a first-hand observer at the 3-day retreat for the Project Management Teams, I agree with her and wish to add that even if the situation is dire (which she said is not), we need to re-assure ourselves that all is well. We will call evil upon our country by exaggerating our fears. Agonizing unnecessarily at this point will do us more harm than good.

There is growing confidence in the civil service following the implementation of the FCSSIP, which has created enthusiasm among civil servants, who now have a rejuvenated hope for a better and more prosperous civil service, a belief that has been long lost.

 

· Omokwe writes from Abuja.

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To cure the Police of its illness

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Last year The Guardian newspaper carried a report as a rider on its front page. The title was, Zaki-Biam: IGP Briefs, Absolves Fulani Herdsmen. As at the time the story was published, I remember that I had bought the paper but didn’t give the report much thought. I was mostly carried away with the photo of the newly commissioned Ojota Bridge which was the cover photo that the Guardian published on this fateful day. I once lived and worked in Lagos, and part of the experience of commuting to and from work was that I had to risk my life on that mechanical skeleton. Most of us braved arrest by LASTMA to using that bridge for fear that it might give away and convey us to untimely eternity.

 

 

But with the killing of 73 and more people in Benue and others in Nasarawa state over grazing cattle on peoples farms, I had to run right back to that publication and look at it closely again. On page 2 of that publication and to quote the words right out of the paper as credited to the IGP of Police, Ibrahim Idris. In briefing Mr. President (concerning the killings in Zaki-Biam in Benue state) he had said: No, I don’t think it is Fulani herdsmen. It was an activity of a criminal who is using some of his criminal gangs in the state to harass people. That, I have assured the governor when I met with him few days ago. Continuing, the IGP said he told the President that ‘we are police officers. Crime has no tribe; if you are a criminal, you are a criminal; we don’t look at crime in the identity of where you are coming from (sic).

 

I doubt the IGP on that last part. French biologist and writer Jean Rostand (1894 – 1977) once said that if you kill a man, you’re a murderer; kill millions of men, you are a conqueror. Kill everyone, and you are a god. I do not understand which among the statuses arrogated to killing of innocent Nigerians it is that the Nigerian police intend to subject Nigerians. In the recent case in Benin City, a policeman seeking bribe from an innocent Nigerian and perhaps seeking to establish the police as a good friend just thrust the adamant young man he was haranguing in the direction of an oncoming truck. He was hit and his head was crushed by the truck. Then there was the case of a media aide who issued a press release on behalf of his principal. Apparently because the content of the press release did not urge Mr. President to contest for a send term, the police immediately declared the media aide a wanted man. That as far as most Nigerians are concerned established the Nigerian police not as friend but as a sycophantic body seeking the perpetration of the tenure of Mr. President.

 

But it was in the Benue case that most Nigerians believe that there must be a sinister plan to kill millions of Nigerians ostensibly from a temperament of an emerging conquistador. Otherwise, how can anyone explain that an institution which is saddled with the protection of lives and property and which generally wants to be seen as a friend of the people stand akimbo, askance as hundreds of people are murdered in broad day light and in peace times? If perhaps the Nigeria Police would be reminded how their antics would compare to certain events in the past, let me refer them to an article in the archive of the Microsoft Premium Encyclopedia 2009. In that article reference was made to the fact that IBB overthrew Muhammadu Buhari because of the increasingly dictatorial nature of the Buhari regime.

 

 

The article said that there was suppression of critical commentary and of various interest groups had gone against the pluralistic structure of Nigerian society and its people’s deep attachment to personal freedom. ‘Particularly unpopular had been the Buhari government’s Decree 4, which forbade publication of anything that might ridicule or denigrate government officials. The decree had shackled Nigeria’s vigorously independent, increasingly sophisticated press and led to the arrest of a number of prominent journalists. Also bitterly resented was Decree 2, which provided for the detention of any citizen deemed to constitute a security risk. Under this sweeping provision, the Nigerian Security Organization (NSO) was given a virtual blank check to arrest critics and dissidents. The regime further alienated the populace by banning all public discussion of the country’s political future. In addition, the coup was precipitated by the conservative economic policies of the Buhari regime, the article said.

I verily believe that the Nigerian police has contributed much more to demonizing our beloved president than anyone else. If the president does not do something about the police, posterity will consign him to the dustbin of history as a second-time dictator. A certain US politician, Al Smith (1873 – 1944) once said that you can cure all the ills which democracy brings by giving the people more democracy. Buhari can cure the police with more democracy.

•Written by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku, is communications manager ANEEJ.

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BBN: The phony moral brigade is out again

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There is every chance that we all have friends or acquaintances, who are convinced they have a divine warrant to tell us how a piece of music should make us feel. Those so persuaded ignore the fact of differences in tastes and orientation. As a rule, they consider their own tastes divinely-approved, not personal preferences. They are the moral brigade. I was not surprised to see members of the brigade back on the podium immediately the hit show, Big Brother Naija (BBN), returned on 28 January.

 

They are easy to spot. They lurk on internet discussion forums or take spaces in the print media, acting like magistrates with the power to tell others what or what not to watch on television and what show sponsors should put their money on.

 

The BBN, without fail, gets the moral brigade into fits of red-eyed rage and on the same limp arguments. In an article, Big Brother, Small Minds, published by Daily Trust on 13 February, one Eugene Enahoro, blamed virtually all the challenges of Nigerian youths, including unwillingness to launch street protests at every opportunity as well inability to dislodge older politicians from the scene and establish a “youthocracy”, on BBN. The view is not original to him. I have seen people blame the English Premier League for Nigerians’ reluctance to make bonfires and block the roads for fun. I consider this an insult. Young Nigerians have participated in many protests and keep doing so since BBN and the English Premier League started airing in Nigeria.

 

The BBN, according to Enahoro, “is a clear example of the idleness, lack of focus and intellectual poverty amongst our youth”. He claimed that when the show debuted years ago, “those who watched it were written off as people who have nothing to do, watching other people doing nothing!” Perhaps, he was talking about himself and his ilk. I know many people, who watched and were mightily entertained (their right). Social media platforms also provide an uncomplicated indication of how much interest viewers have in BBN. Further proof of that is the return of the show with other editions. Had it been rejected by the audience, the show would have been ditched after debut.

 

These days, claimed Enahoro, housemates do nothing other than engage in “in immorality of the highest order and discuss the most mundane unintelligent issues.” I am yet to see hardcore porn on or naked violence on BBN. A few indiscretions, maybe, but I strongly suspect that the writer knows that the BBN House is not a monastery and the show is unscripted. I am equally aware that no one is forced to watch. And very importantly, those who consider goings-on in the house unsuitable for viewers of certain ages should take advantage of their education and use the time and channel blocking features available to prevent access. Those features are not decorative in purpose.

 

If the writer wants activism-oriented reality show, one drenched in Marxist rhetoric and Bob Marley’s ‘Stand Up, Get Up’ playing relentlessly as the soundtrack, he should come up with an idea and pitch it. Intelligence, it must be made clear, is not exclusive to politics and activism. Both platforms, DStv and GOtv, on which BBN is aired, offer programming for diverse tastes. They include news, movies, sports, religion and general entertainment. Simply take your pick and as they say on the street, “eat the rice and leave the stones”.

It is curious that the writer can describe a show that guarantees the winner N25million and a brand new SUV as one with no real value. Well, it has monetary value. More than that, it has career advancement value. The careers of some of the previous housemates have been helped by their participation. Bisola Aiyeola, the first runner-up at last year’s BBN attended the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York as an Ambassador of One Campaign Initiative, which advocates improvement of access to and quality of education for girls in Nigeria, especially in the Northern states.

 

This followed her winning presentation on BBN, where she highlighted the barriers to girl-child education in Nigeria. In any language, what she did would spell “seminal”, a word the author may not be familiar with. She has also featured in a number of television commercials and is a celebrity, facts that obviously leave the writer baleful. Uti Unachukwu cannot be said to have been hurt by participation in BBN except in the mind of the author.

 

Enahoro wants the N25million for the winner of a mathematics or essay competition. I concede to him the right to hold his belief. What I find unacceptable is that he thinks that knowledge in mathematics (and you can add other subjects of study) is the only means of being useful in the society. This is not the case.
I do think every activity not deemed illegal is useful to the society. Jamaica is better known for its reggae and athletics icons than her poets and mathematicians. Brazil is better known for football than anything else. That is not saying that poets and mathematicians are inferior, but you cannot legislate preferences for people.

 

Education is fantastic, but if the writer is sufficiently educated, he would understand that education does not have one strain and is not restricted to school subjects. Interacting with people of different backgrounds and performing various tasks at a single location for three months must count as education and must be considered useful for personal development.

 

And for the authors’ education, some of the BBN housemates have second degrees. Many have first degrees. Branding them as unintelligent is reflective of the minds of the members of the moral brigade, not those of the housemates. And you can find intelligent people among those who have never worn academic gowns. BBN sponsors, MultiChoice, remain among the biggest investors in education through the MultiChoice Resource Centres in over 400 public schools across the country. This fact is well known to except to the moral brigade. The sponsors’ support for journalism in Africa and in Nigeria through the CNN/MultiChoice African Journalism Awards, in the author’s bizarre world, does not come across as noble. Presumably, the organization’s support for Sickle Cell Society Nigeria also counts as less than noble.

 

The author’s anger at the size of the cash prize on offer to the eventual winner is, to say the least, laughable. Top-tier actors, musicians, footballers and boxers, to name a few, earn more than professors, scientists or economists et al. That the chaps in the “noble” professions do not earn as much as those in the presumably less noble ones has nothing to do with how important their fields are to society. They are mightily important.

 

The truth is that only the top actors, musicians, footballers and boxers are highly paid. The vast majority never get the jobs they seek. Very few top-tier scientists, educators, professors and economists are paid relatively little. Some turn their work into products and services that earn them eye-watering sums.

 

Everyone’s remuneration is based on what someone is willing to pay them. They key is to find the right employer. Footballers get better paid than doctors because the clubs that pay their wages are not public corporations and they are ‘for-profit’ organizations. A footballer’s wages, for example, come from the deep pockets of a billionaire or a club with big-money sponsorship deals, massive ticket-sale and merchandise revenues as well as competition prize money intake. The author is unable to understand this, obviously.

 

 

You don’t want to watch BBN? Stay off it and stick to what thrills you. Others want to watch, deal with it.

•Umunna writes from Port Harcourt

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Perspectives

Temptation (Part 2)

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A part-time Christian cannot defeat a full time demon. Devil, the originator of temptation is going to and fro, looking for whom he may devour.
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1st Peter 5:8 NIV).

This is a 24/7 job. Unfortunately, the potential prey that the devil seeks, only seems to remember God on Sundays. As a matter of fact, many so-called Christians today only go to church on Sundays to respect the Sunday; not to respect the God of the Sunday. These are part-time Christians. There is no way such people can overcome temptation that comes from a full time smooth operator called Devil.
The devil uses human beings to operate his temptations. But why should I be this instrument of operation?

A prostitute (corporate, raw or classy) is looking for someone with whom fornication can be committed. Why should that person be me?
The devil wants to scatter a family with unnecessary quarrels, resulting from ego contest and pride. Why should my family be a victim?
Someone wants to seduce a married person to commit adultery. Why should I fall victim to such effort?

An innocent, ignorant, teenage virgin exposes her nakedness to a guy unconsciously and the devil begins to manipulate the guy, selling the idea of deflowering the girl. Why should this guy serve as the devil’s agent?
Your housemaid or wife’s sister is deliberately making efforts to seduce you into adultery. Why should you stand up to work for the devil instead of disorganizing his plans?

A person of the opposite sex is in trouble and needs your help. The devil says: “Take advantage of the person and have a carnal knowledge of the person.” Why should you yield to such destiny-destroying advice?
Don’t ever deliberately make yourself a source of temptation to someone. When you post a nude photo of your naked body or that of someone on the internet, you are a terrible enemy of God.
“Jesus said to his disciples: Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come” (Luke 17:1 NIV).

“And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck” (Mark 9:42 NIV)
“I urge you brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them” (Romans 16:17 NIV).
To overcome temptation therefore, “Pray without ceasing” (2nd Thessalonians 5:17).

Prayer may however, not yield any results if it comes from someone who enjoys sin. This is because the prayer of the sinner is an abomination unto God (Proverbs 28:9). You must “give no place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27).
Put God and holiness above every decision under pressure. If your fiancée says you cannot get married until you guys commit fornication, tell the person that holiness unto God is more important to you than the marriage.
Avoid avoidable danger zones. Do not mingle with prostitutes, drunks and hemp smokers and tell me you are being tempted. You are actually jumping into temptation intentionally to obtain a free visa to hell fire.
Avoid immoral utterances and conversations. Avoid immoral videos and telephone communications.

“Evil communication corrupts good manners” (1st Corinthians 15:33).
Don’t make jokes about sex with obviously ungodly people. Don’t even take them as best of friends. They will pollute your heart and push you into the river of sin through temptation.
Above all, you must allow Jesus Christ to take over your heart and possess it. It is his grace that can help you to overcome temptations.
Jesus said: “…without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5)

“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord but out of a pure heart” (2nd Timothy 2:22 NIV).
Are you going through spiritual temptation? Maybe you attend church or mosque regularly. Yet, your dream life is in crisis. In fact, you hardly sleep because of spiritual attacks. You even suspect your spouse because of the role your spouse played in the dream as someone that is after your life and peace. Has your child or spouse suddenly begun to exhibit some totally strange behaviour such as canvassing or communicating with invisible people? These are forms of spiritual attack, and deliverance is possible.

Does your family suddenly record a bad news shortly after a positive miracle like wedding, safe child delivery, exam success, etc? Have you suddenly developed hatred for a member of your family for no just cause and even has the urge to harm the person? Do you sometimes have the urge to spiritually manipulate and kill someone or even yourself? This is the spirit of death. It has been sent by the devil to destroy you.

The first step towards deliverance from these and many other spiritual temptations is to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and personal saviour. Then, you can enjoy authority over Satan, who Jesus has already conquered on the cross of Calvary. You can enjoy the benefits of the authority Jesus gave in Luke 10:19 “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Until you yield totally to Jesus, this scripture will remain mere text to you.
Do you think you have a spirit husband or wife? See possible solutions in the book, MAKING YOUR MARRIAGE WORK by Albinus Chiedu. Your marriage shall be a miracle and a testimony in Jesus name! Amen!.

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