Reordering Nigerian civil service for a new Nigeria

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Nigeria's civil service

Setting trap is one of the techniques through which hunters steadily catch bush-meat for sale and for consumption. Hunters bait their traps by dropping some food on the trap to attract and trap the animals. The small food dropped as bait is not meant to nourish the bush-meat, but to give the hunter an advantage or excuse to continue catching bush-meat. Trapping differentiates foods for nourishing animals (pets) from foods used as excuse for catching animals for sale or consumption. The mode of Nigerian civil service delivery becomes indicative for differentiating between public service and excuse for embezzlement.

Some politicians and analysts identify Nigerian civil service as the engine of corruption in Nigeria.[1][2] They tag permanent secretaries, directors, assistants, contractors, accountants, auditors, procurers and others as invisible hands of corruption in every administration. Major corruption accusations against Nigerian civil service include bribery, extortion, laundering, embezzlement, incompetence, nepotism and many others. Nigerian civil servants were recently accused of even stealing the funds for anti-corruption in Nigeria.[3] The consistence of corruption cases and accusations in Nigerian civil service requires serious investigation into its causes.


British colonialists created Nigeria by brutally joining several unconsented kingdoms and communities together under a militarized central government. The central government seizes the various people’s mineral resources and auctions them[4][5][6] according to industrial needs of industrialized societies. As compensation/justification for seizing people’s mineral resources, government imports and shares foreign goods and services through Nigerian civil service. Thus, like hunters’ bait, Nigerian civil service becomes an excuse for seizing the different peoples’ lands and mineral resources. It remains an excuse since government officials prefer foreign services to the substandard and insufficient public services rendered to Nigerians. They prefer foreign healthcare, education, vacations, houses, furniture, products and other services.


Progressive societies are formed by the people’s agreement to use their human and natural resources for solving their problems. They create wealth by applying human intelligence on natural resources to produce valuable commodities[7] for local use and profitable export. From producing valuable commodities, they develop modes of distributing these commodities for sustenance and further productivity. The people who create and distribute wealth in a society require support services to be more productive. This is why societies have civil service to provide education, healthcare, security, regulation and other amenities for a productive society.


Unfortunately, Nigerian civil service was not originally intended for developing Nigeria’s forcefully amalgamated people of different exploited tribes. Instead, it was established by colonialists to provide social amenities for white settlers (officers) and top indigenous helpers.[8] Before Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent revolution, colonialists who hoped to settle in African societies created comfortable settlements to stay for resource-exploitation.[9] But after Gandhi’s independence revolution, Africans agitated for independence, making colonialists to hastily train loyalist-indigenes to continue their colonial resource-exploitation. When colonial officers left at independence, Nigerian civil service-delivery worsened as it became settlement-package for collaborators in neo-colonial resource-exploitation and marketing. As settlement-package for loyalists instead of assistance to productive people, the civil service embraced quota-system, mediocrity and corruption over merit. With this mindset, civil servants view government jobs as opportunities to enrich themselves and pay returns to ‘ogas’ by extorting people.


Presently, Nigerian civil service consists of non-military employees in Nigerian government agencies[10] that provide various government services to the people.[11] The civil service is organized around the federal ministries, headed by a minister appointed by the President, who must include at least one member of each of the 36 states in his cabinet. Each ministry also has a Permanent Secretary for various parastatals such as education, health, agriculture, information, housing, industry, commerce, culture, defence, foreign affairs, justice, mines, energy and other provisions. Despite several reforms, Nigerian civil service remains stagnant, inefficient and expensive as it depends on foreign goods and services to function. Most materials for healthcare, transportation, agriculture, information, education, textile, industry, construction and mining are imported at exorbitant prices.


Many foreign goods and services distributed by Nigerian civil service can be reproduced by intelligent Nigerians using local resources. However, importing and distributing foreign ones provide excuse for government to seize and sell people’s mineral resources, and opportunity for inflating projects to embezzle funds. Hence, some public officials may not support the people’s recovery of their resources for producing what they need. Though there are honest civil servants willing to redeem the civil-service, they may not succeed given the original aim for Nigerian civil service. It was not intended to support Nigerians for productivity, but to provide an excuse for seizing and selling various people’s resources and controlling their market choices.

Efforts to resolve Nigeria’s civil service may not succeed without a reorganization of Nigerian society and citizenry for productivity. As long as Nigerians are not essentially involved in industrial production as Nigeria’s major economic activity instead of crude exportation, civil service will be seen as charity. Nigerians will not have influence to demand and obtain necessary services except they have money or know public officers. But when Nigerians are enabled to produce valuable commodities from their local resources, they become assets and wealth-creators instead of liabilities. Then, Nigerian civil service will be responsive to encourage and assist the people’s productivity and Nigeria’s socio-economic growth.


To reorganize Nigerian civil service, a sincere government may take the following steps:

  • Conduct a social research to ascertain and acknowledge the different people who were yoked into the Nigerian society.[12] This social research will involve identifying the people’s good social values, natural resources and their trainable population for eventual productivity. The people will gradually retrieve ownership of their lands and onshore mineral resources in preparation for industrial productivity, sustenance and taxes to central government.
  • Assist the communities to install schools to learn about their environment and resources, industries to process their resources and banks for funding. Government will involve foreign and locally trained/trainable members of the communities and their local resources in installing these three institutions. This will increase the people’s feeling of ownership and commitment to their social development, and an opportunity for skill-development. These installation processes will be regulated and co-monitored[13] by federal agencies and local authorities, not representatives whose work is mainly legislation, not execution of projects.
  • Organize intercommunal conferences within local governments or sections that will lead to a national conference for ethnic communities to agree on their mode of collaboration in the Nigerian partnership. The agreement and resolution of the people forms the constitutional foundation of a better Nigeria.
  • Develop better interstate routes for Nigerians to distribute the locally processed resources within Nigeria for higher processing and productivity. Also for distributing technologically finished goods.
  • Develop or invite local and foreign manufacturing companies to set up plants to use Nigeria’s semi-processed resources for producing Nigeria’s consumable products. This will employ more Nigerians in providing solutions to the numerous physical shortages in Nigeria.
  • The local communities who manage the society and small-scale productivity will obtain taxes for providing their civil service and for paying federal tax. The local civil service from various communities will link to Nigerian civil service through sectional and regional civil service.
  • Using taxes from the different sections and revenue from offshore mineral resources, the federal government will temporarily support communities without viable human and natural resources to stabilize. Afterwards, the federal government will fully channel the offshore revenues and taxes to regulation, security, research and development, and better social service.
  • Each federal ministry will be enabled to identify, connect and support undergraduates from their particular field of work. Thus, ministry of health follows up on all medicine, nursing and health science students for eventual integration in the service. Ministry of productivity and industry follows up on engineers and scientists, also with other ministries.


Government’s work is not to seize and sell people’s resources for importing and sharing insufficient foreign goods and services. The major work of central government is regulation and harmonization of various peoples’ productive initiatives within a society. The people create and distribute valuable commodities in healthcare, agriculture, construction, fashion, education and others for sustenance and profit. With a reformed civil service, Nigerian government will harmonize production and distribution, and improve institutions and routes for connecting the people’s productivity.


[1] Isa Ali Pantami, “Nigeria’s civil service: An engine of corruption By Isa Ali Pantami” in Premium Times, March 23, 2012. retrieved May 30, 2018.

[2] Yemi Osinbajo, “Corruption in civil service, a nation’s greatest tragedy” in Punch, May 1, 2017. retrieved May 30, 2018.

[3] “Nigerian civil servants ‘stole anti-corruption funds’” in Vanguard, January 17, 2018. retrieved May 30, 2018

[4] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 2

[5] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 2, paragraph 1

[6] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 3

[7] Walter Rodney, How Europe underdeveloped Africa, 2009 edition (Abuja: Panaf publishers, 2009), p.23

[8] Cf. Walter Rodney, How Europe underdeveloped Africa, 2009 edition (Abuja: Panaf publishers, 2009), p.248.

[9] Some of the former colonialist officers remained in Zimbabwe as citizens even after Zimbabwe’s 1965 independence and dominated Zimbabwe’s politics until indigenous Zimbabweans fought them off. Colonialist officers also remained in South Africa to dominate the society and promote the black discrimination know as apartheid.

[10] “Nigerian Civil Service”, in Wikipedia.

[11] “Federal Ministries of Nigeria” in Wikipedia.

[12] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, “The social research for a new Nigeria” in Restartnaija June 5, 2018. retrieved

[13] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, “Maintenance culture and the inefficient monitoring capacity in Nigeria” in Restartnaija, 8th May, 2018. retrieved 20th June, 2018.