Public service is a system provided by the government to the citizens either directly or indirectly or by financing private provision of service. It entails certain services being available to all. Regardless of class or income.
Public services are often in form of services, that is, they do not involve the manufacture of goods. Public service is a part of the executive arm of government that implement policies programs of government for the welfare of the citizens. They often require high levels of training and education. They may attract people with public service ethos (moral attitudes) who wish to give something to the wider public or community through their work.
It compromises of the skilled persons employed to work in various departments for different areas of development. The public service is well structured and sectionalized to handle different policies of government. The sections and departments may include water resources, sports, youth development, health, urban development, natural resources, sports, works and housing, power, waste management, town planning, transportation, military, law enforcement, fire service, social services, etc. Each department is headed by a permanent secretary with the assistance of some directors.
There are other officers who head different units down to the secretarial and messenger’s levels.
The public service comprise of the civil service which has the structure services for the people without any profit motives; agencies for specialized assignments such as National Agency for Food Drug, Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), etc. All these parastatals and agencies perform certain services to implement government policies and programs for the overall welfare of the citizens. An efficient public service is important for the survival of democracy in a country.
Because public service is the engine for the transformation government policies into concrete actions, due process is needed as the guiding principle of public servants. This calls for mandatory adherence of public officials to the rules and regulations of their departments.
Public service has certain features such as performance, Political neutrality, impartiality, anonymity and expertise that guide its operations. Public service is important for the survival, stability, strengthening, implementation of policies and the overall development of democracy.
What are the types of public services?
Types of Public Services
A. Civil Service:
i. Federal Civil Service
ii. State Civil Service
iii. Local Government Service
B. Public Corporations:
i. Nigeria Railway
ii. Electricity Board
iii. Nigeria Airways; etc
C. Special Government Agencies:
i. National Agency for Food Drug, Administration and Control (NAFDAC)
ii. Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC)
iii. Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC)
iv. Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON)
v. National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA)
vi. Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), etc.
Reasons for Shortcomings in the Public Service
The public service departments are established to implement government policies and programs. These programs are for the overall benefit of the citizens. In spite of the need for their services, it has been observed that the public service fail to perform their roles to the satisfaction of the public. Some of the reasons for the shortcomings observed in the public service are as follows:
• Government Interference: Government I interfere unduly in the affairs of the various departments which affects their operation. For example, government employ people periodically into the service which make the staff strength over bloated and difficult to control.
• Nepotism and Ethnicity: Nepotism and ethnicity is the practice among those in power or influence of favoring relatives, those who are from their ethnic groups or friends especially by giving them jobs. It is often detrimental to the common good. Public servants often favour friends, relations and those from their ethnic groups instead of treating issues based on merit. This also reflects in awards of contract without following due process. This does not allow for competence as it does not give room for qualified and experienced officers to occupy their expected position, which eventually affects the public services performance negatively.
• Bad Management: Some of the heads of the government departments do not have good managerial skills. Some got there through ethnical considerations and federal character principle which may not allow the best to occupy position but for social and ethnical considerations.
• Corruption: Another problem affecting the public service is corruption in government. Political office holders connive with public servants to steal and divert public funds into their personal accounts. It has been observed that government officials make use of the public servants to perpetrate their corrupt practices.
• Bad attitude to work: The non-challant attitude of some of the workers to work often affects the productivity of the public service. Some workers are not dedicated to duty while incessant strike actions for increase in salary and other incentives also affect their output.
• Inadequate training officers
• Inconsistent government policies
• Political instability
• Insensitive to public interest
• Insufficient and poor working tools.
Ways Of Improving the Public Service in Nigeria
The public service in Nigeria can be improved through the following ways:
1. Government should send public servants to refresher training programs to keep them more abreast with the recent development of communication and technology era.
2. Only skilled professionals should be allowed to work in the public service.
3. Political education should be taught in schools to train and prepare the younger generation for service of the nation.
4. Government should strengthen agencies like Public Complaints Commission and Code of Conduct Bureau to hear complaints and suggestions on how to improve the service and check the excesses of some public servants.
5. Public Service can also be improved by regular increase in the salary/wages of Public Officers. There should be regular increase in the salary of workers and other incentives like car loans, housing loans, etc to encourage them.
6. The public service should be well equipped with necessary incentives and materials needed for smooth running of their duties. The working environment must be conducive for operation and their complaints and needs should be promptly responded to by the government.