By Levinus Nwabughiogu and Favour Nnabugwu
ABUJA-Acting President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja on Tuesday said that a corrupt free country was dependent on a corrupt free civil servants.
He said civil servants who were privileged to occupy high offices in the land had no reason to subvert the will of the people in the execution of government policies.
Osinbajo spoke at the inaugural quarterly civil service lecture series, with its theme: “Civil Service in a Change Environment: The Change is Now”.Ag President Yemi Osinbajo and SSAP on SDGs, Princes Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire during the inauguration of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) at the State House in Abuja.
The function also unveiled the Strategic plan of the Civil Service from 2017 to 2019.
He said: “It was the judiciary that told the military then that while it may make laws those laws should still respect the inalienable rights of the people as enshrined in international human right conventions to which the country had voluntarily acceded.
“These were individuals without guns, just sitting down on platforms up there in the court who insisted on holding the military responsible.
“Despite the criticisms that civil servants are subjected to, I am sure that you know that sometimes civil servants are described as ‘evil servants’ but you must take heart. The best professions are usually the most criticized, but I must say that the wholesome privilege of public service is very easily abused or taken for granted. The public service elite represents as we have seen the most important factor in mass development.
“The power to do great good or evil lies with a few people who form what we refer to as our civil service. When some in such an elite see the opportunity as one for self enrichment by corrupt practices then the nation faces a monumental tragedy.
“There is no excuses anywhere in a nation where the majority are still poor and are struggling to make a living that anyone who has the benefit of good education and good fortune of a job in the civil service should subvert that service for personal gains, I think its the greatest tragedy that a nation can experience”.
Also speaking, the Head of Service, Mrs. Winifred Iyo-Ita said that change was necessary in the civil service as it would help bring sanity to the system.
She said that the strategic plan was to mainly restore confidence in the service.
“We are able to achieve a lot of feedback mechanisms. As soon as we get complains, we don’t allow it to move from table to table anymore. It goes straight to the tripartite committee there and then where they are sitting.
“The PENCOM person is there, the person from employee, PRW, head of service and so on. They immediately analyze the problem, they contact the person and so on. So, they also produce monthly results. I insist that every month, i want to see the number of complaints received, how it has been addressed, what are the issues and so on. And there is a good response.
“You heard what His Excellency, the Acting president say change doesn’t have to incorporate everybody. It’s unrealistic. Even if one or two people out of one thousand are able to change, that change will come because it will spread. And you will find out that a time will come in the service when it will be so fashionable to be part of the change train. It will no longer be a thing of having to force people or coerce people to do the right thing. They will just know that they have to do the right thing to maintain their integrity.
“The strategic plan is quit ambitious. It is very bulky, but we can start it right away by setting up a technical team made up of serving and retired civil servants of high group who can actually now help to design the implementation strategy.
“Some parts of the strategy are controversial, some are everybody’s piece of pile. Now we will look at how to fine-tune those goals that may not be very achievable in view of the constraints in the service but definitely all the fore goals , like the president said , not all the four goals will be 100% implemented but something. We start with a little of each and definitely the sky is our limit”, she said.