Setting A New Agenda For Good Governance —mac durugbo


At the swearing in of his new cabinet recently, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), told the members, “This new team must resist the temptation to dwell on any successes of the last team. We must see whatever they achieved as challenges to us to do better. That is the only way we can reward and appreciate their sacrifice and service”.

It was not the first time the governor was making such declaration to public servants since he took the mantle of office as governor of this state for the second term. On Tuesday, May 31, 2011, while addressing the state’s civil servants who organised a prayer session for the new administration, Governor Fashola also stated, “Do not be preoccupied with the strides made in the last term; forget about what happened in the first term and be focused to start providing service afresh to the people”. According to the governor, every official should be able to take responsibility within the Civil Service regulations.

Given the vision he has concerning the state in the next four years, Governor Fashola has not left anyone, least of all the public servants, in doubt about what is expected of them in order to reach the expected goal. The concept of “the reward for hard work is more work”, is one that he has popularised from his first tenure to mean that hard work not only remains the only means to achieve that vision, but should be an inbuilt concept to guide the conduct of every public servant in the performance of his or her duties.

Perhaps, that is why the Governor has been on the upbeat about a change of attitude to work. He told a gathering of public servants just before his inauguration, “If, as my special or personal assistance in the last four years, all you have done is to bring to my notice problems or challenges confronting any particular section in the state without doing anything to find solutions to such problems or challenges, have you assisted me? You have only added to the myriad of problems that confront me daily as governor of this state”. As simple as this statement appears, the philosophy behind it is meant to fire the imagination of any worker to the reality of his or her position as part and parcel of a team towards the achievement of good governance in the state. Taken holistically, therefore, the various statements so far credited to the governor since his inauguration tend to preach a new concept and approach to work if the envisaged goal must be achieved. Take, for instance, the call to forget the achievements of the last administration and focus on rendering fresh service.

This is a paradigm shift from the usual and familiar tendency among our leaders to flaunt common place accomplishments as “great strides” and celebrate them for a long time. The carnival-like 100 days in office which will soon commence in the states across the country is one of the ways leaders do this. The national dailies at such times are awash with congratulatory advertorials by friends and well-wishers of the governors. But, even in this, Governor Fashola has, in the last four years, redefined the concept of 100 Days in office. Instead of the carnival-like celebration, the Governor has used every 100 days to meet the various segments of the Lagos society to render account of his stewardship.

In the four years of his first tenure, the governor met 14 times with the people of Lagos at different levels including the business community, artisans, civil servants, market traders, traditional and religious leaders and members of the Diplomatic Corps. As the audience varied, so did the meeting methods, from town hall, through question and answers to segmented meetings where members of the State Executive Council split into three to meet the people simultaneously at the three Senatorial Districts of the State.

However, even as the world has practically stood up for the spectacular performance of the last team, the leader of that team says nothing has happened yet. If the transformation of Lagos from one of the dirtiest to one of the most beautiful cities in the world is not to be reckoned as an achievement, if the gargantuan infrastructure development that has made Lagos a model mega-city in Africa is a mere tip of the iceberg, if the great strides in education, the economy, security, transportation and traffic management constitute just the beginning of the journey, then, the envisaged destination must be exceptional and the means to achieve it must equally be exceptional.

The demand to be proactive in the performance of their duties is, therefore, a wakeup call to public servants to change their performance approach to work as a means to getting to this envisaged destination. It is a new concept which appears to run counter to civil service rules and procedures. For example, by those rules, a civil servant is not allowed to take or act on his initiative without getting permission from a superior officer. The bureaucracy involved in obtaining this permission within the civil service procedure is, to say the least, cumbersome. It is a phenomenon which has greatly encumbered service delivery in the country over the years. It is a set of rules which has, to a large extent, become a graveyard for bright and progressive initiatives. But the Civil Service Rules and Procedures, just like the Constitution of the country, is not bad in itself. What has made it seemingly “bad” over the years is the human factor. The notoriety which “bureaucracy” has acquired in the country is largely as a result of infighting and unnecessary competitions among the civil service personnel.

In asking public servants in the state to be proactive in the discharge of their duties within the Civil Service regulations, therefore, the Lagos State governor is, perhaps, asking them to free the service from all such encumbrances so that service delivery process could be better enhanced. Fortunately, the last administration did quite a lot to reform and motivate the service. Today, the Lagos State Civil Service, with over 121,000 work force, is about the most motivated in the country. For example, the administration increased existing car refurbishment and housing loans, increased the number of family members of a staff that are entitled to free medical treatment, increased the fleet of staff buses and extended official cars to staff from level of director. It is the first to accept to pay the N18,000 minimum wage to its workers.

Also such innovations as the Best Worker of the Year Award for the senior and junior staff are meant to enhance performance. The winners in the Senior and Junior categories go home with brand new cars and other prizes. Recently, while addressing the closing ceremony of the State’s Public Service Week, the Head of Service, Prince Adesegun Ogunlewe, announced that the Raffle Draw which often climaxed the Grand Finale of the Week had been put aside and in its place, “a vista of broader opportunities is being created to accommodate more beneficiaries from the State’s Public Service”, adding that in effect, sixty-six officers in the senior and junior categories, who have been exemplary in their various schedules, have been identified and would be duly rewarded in this year’s edition.

Again the state’s Mortgage Scheme introduced in the first tenure of the administration began with Public Servants as the first beneficiaries. By token of that scheme, at least 226 public servants who hitherto lived as tenants in the state’s official quarters were issued title deeds that entitled them to the ownership of the houses. Those were the first beneficiaries of the scheme. The number has since increased and even people outside the service can benefit. The only collateral is evidence of a steady source of income. Indeed, the Lagos State Public Service has become so attractive that the governor is being inundated with applications from private sector professionals to join the service. This is something hitherto unheard of and a proof of the extent of reforms and motivation in the service. The State’s Public Servants will, therefore, be reciprocating their government’s good gestures by showing unalloyed loyalty which, according to the Head of Service, should be complemented with diligence, integrity, innovation and transparency. Lagos, in the last four years, has become a reference point for all other states of the federation and even the Federal Government due to the manifest demonstration of good governance by the administration of Governor Babatunde Fashola, a feat which would not have been possible without the Civil and Public Servants. They must, therefore, endeavour to sustain this enviable status by being resourceful, productive, progressive and proactive in the discharge of their duties.


•Durugbo is currently in the office of the Special Adviser on Media to the Governor of Lagos State.

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