Remarks by Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, at the launch of the Public Service Revitalisation and Renewal Programme; Murtala Square, Kaduna, 10 October 2016.
I welcome you all to the launch of the Kaduna State Public Service Renewal Programme. The current government of Kaduna State was elected on a platform of change that recognises the central role of the public service in delivering public goods and in promoting good governance. It is now time to implement our manifesto commitment to reform the public service, to restore it to the high standards of its founding and to enable it to live up to the substantive meaning of the phrase, ‘public service’.
The public service is the agent of governance. No matter how progressive the creed of a political party is, it cannot deliver concrete programmes without an efficient and effective public service. This state once had a very decent public service, and we intend to restore those standards and upgrade the service. No reform of the way government has been organized can be qualified as either comprehensive or successful if it excludes the public service.
In Kaduna State, the public service is afflicted by many constraints. There are skills gaps, and the age-distribution is skewed against younger staff. There are challenges with discipline and accountability, and a tendency for bureaucratic sluggishness that is often indistinguishable from inertia. In addition, a mentality persists that considers the perks of public servants as the overriding priority of the government, ahead of serving the public by delivering social services.
This state of dysfunction owes much to structural and systemic issues that have over many decades hollowed out the professionalism and dedication that defined the public service at its best. In place of high standards, there is a distortion of the meaning and purpose of public service. Many public servants and the public at large recognise that this must change.
Therefore, we have given careful consideration to a Public Service Reform Programme to reinvigorate the public service, motivate and restore the professional pride of the public servant and upgrade skills levels to match the best public services in the world. We have no doubt that if well-supported, such a reform programme can deliver for our state a dedicated, dynamic and cost-effective public service.
This reform programme also offers a much-needed window to inject the vibrancy of youth into the public service. Due to the embargo on civil service recruitment that was imposed in 2008, and other factors, there are not enough young persons in the service. Government will deliberately recruit and inject young and motivated personnel to make the public service better. Having more young, well-educated persons in public service ranks will also result in the public service more closely reflecting the demographic of the state it is serving.
Therefore, we have for weeks now opened a job portal on the state government website and ran jingles inviting young people to upload their CVs there. Government will recruit from that database, and will as much as is possible encourage our private sector partners to source personnel from that portal.
We say clearly to the young people of Kaduna State, this is your chance to enter public service. Seize it and make a worthwhile career from truly serving the public!
One of the key goals of the reform programme is to deliver a public service that has a preference for merit, upholds high standards of ethics and performance and is prompt and vigorous in enforcing discipline. The system must recognize and reward honorable, committed and hardworking public servants, and punish the indolent.
Kaduna State needs a public service that is competent and confident, is committed to delivering social services and is able to offer an attractive career path for honest, selfless and skilled public servants.
Let us do it together. Let us make Kaduna Great again!