From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
A former minister of the National Planning Commission, Sanusi Daggash, has revealed why successive governments failed in the country, saying that the biggest foundational problem of the country is the civil service.
Daggash spoke during the public presentation of the book, ‘The Arc of the Possible’ and Conversation on ‘The Promise and Peril of Public Service’ authored by the immediate past Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Waziri Adio.
In attendance were the Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Hadiza Balarabe, the Minister of State, Environment, Sharon Ikeazor; the Nigerian Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, Yusuf Tuggar, former Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Bolaji Abdullahi, Board Chairman of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, among others.
Daggash said clearly, issues to do with the establishment is the problem of the country, adding that when people are confronted with what is called the system, holistically, the system itself has structured itself towards inefficiency, failure, corruption and what have you.
He added that the system of civil service under the colonial administration has run all the way practically to date.
Daggash also said the country superimposed the presidential system back in 1979, saying that to date, the country has not managed to align the difference between the parliamentary system of civil service administration with that of the United States system of administration of the civil service.
“These are key problems that are still being dealt with. And so, when people come in and come out, they always have problems. Every government, every circle comes to try and dismantle what the previous government has done, not knowing that the biggest foundational problem we have is the civil service based on the structures that this country got its independence upon. To date, the Financial Act, 1958, is what is operating. Today in 2021,” Daggash said.
Daggash recalled that while in the National Assembly, he tried to ensure that the Financial Act was repealed, but nobody was ready to support it.
“The resources required were not available, the time element isn’t there. And so, we continue on this experimental vision of what governance should be and unfortunately, that has become a seeming challenge that has not been surmounted,” Daggash added.
Earlier, Daggash revealed how a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation moved against his memo to reform the public service.
The incident, Daggash disclosed, took place at the Federal Executive Council during the tenure of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua where he also served as Minister of Works.
Those who were Heads of the Civil Service of the Federation during the Yar’Adua’s administration are Mahmud Yahyale Ahmed, Ebele Okeke, Amal Pepple, and Steve Oronsaye.
Daggash recalled that when he was Minister of National Planning, some of the subjects of how to move the country forward, was always on the table on a daily basis.
“I recall one of the early memos I wrote to late President Yar’Adua was an 18 or 19-page letter or memo with regards to the state of the civil service, the need for some kind of need assessment, need for some kind of a national resource report that needed to be done.
“The president then saw this memo and said, forward it to Council for debate. Being the Minister of National Planning, my memos come following the alphabetical order towards the end of the day.
“Apparently, that memo did not sit too well with the Head of Service then who lobbied the Secretary to the Government then, who also lobbied the National Security Adviser who sits to my left. The President sits, the Vice President, you have the NSA, then you have the Chief of Staff and you start having the Youths and Sports and then, Planning.
“As soon as the President at that time craved my indulgence, to just tell you the story, called the Ministry of Planning, three or four hands went up to my left. Who were those hands? The then Head of Service, the Secretary to the Government and the National Security Adviser.
“So, the President turned and said yes, deferring to them because they were now the senior members of government, not necessarily by protocol, but they are senior key advisers to the President. The first person mentioned Sir, I don’t think this memo should be read. He said why? Well, we have the memo, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
“He said the next, the NSA now commented. He said Mr President, I have seen this thing, there are too many things here that need to be addressed, maybe we should have a closer look at it before… Then the third person too mentioned that Sir, I don’t think we should actually take this memo, including the Head of Service of that time.
“Yar’Adua then said ok, opening up to the Federal Executive Council, comments please from the ministers. The first minister I think was the late Dr Hassan Lawal. He said Mr President when I am being a minister for how many years, this is what I met in the Ministry of Labour. Problems, problems, problems, attitude, lackadaisical things, wrongs, corruption. Next minister, similar experience. Third minister, fourth minister. Yar’Adua turned to me and said, present your memo,” Daggash revealed.
In his remarks, the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, said Nigeria needed the best to remain engaged with the top work required to set it on the proper path.
El-Rufai who was represented by his Deputy, Hadiza Balarabe also said public service is tough and often thankless.
“But it is an absolutely necessary activity for building a better society. It helps to have the necessary preparation,” El-Rufai said.
Chairman of the Occasion, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, said the public sector is the defining aspect of the society in nation-building.
Aig-Imoukhuede submitted that only the best should man the most important roles, government roles in the society.
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