The immediate past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has decried the poor quality of leadership in the Nigerian public service.
Jega made this known while speaking on, “Public Sector Leadership in Times of Crises”, at the closing ceremony of Aig–Imoukhuede Public Leaders Programme in Abuja on Wednesday.
The former INEC chairman said, “In most developing countries, and certainly in Nigeria, the quality of public sector leadership lags behind what obtains in other sectors, especially the private sectors, although there is now also increasing concern about the declining values of integrity, as well as professionalism and efficiency in the delivery of services in the Nigerian private sectors.”
The former INEC boss noted that efforts to reform the public sector since the mid-1980s had failed.
Jega said, “Substantively, this means that the Nigerian public sector has, for long, been in dire need of ‘re-composition’, for it to efficiently and effectively deliver public goods and services, in order to re-establish the capacity of the Nigerian state to play one of its key roles, which is the deployment of state resources for the satisfaction of citizens’ needs and aspirations, through the delivery of public goods and services that promote, protect and defend human security.”
He said the quality of leadership provided by the range of leaders who managed, directed, and controlled public sector institutions, structures, and processes was fundamental to progress and development in any sector of a modern nation state, be it public or private, or even the civil society sphere.
He noted that how to recruit, train, and mentor capable executive cadre employees to become good leaders, with remarkable experience and formidable leadership skill sets had been a perennial challenge that needed to be constantly addressed.
Regrettably, he said, governments in countries such as Nigeria had paid inadequate attention to the challenge.
While giving his own remarks at the event, the founder of the foundation, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, said there was a strong correlation between the performance of a country’s public sector and its economic development.
Aig-Imoukhuede said the foundation was convinced that creating an effective, value-driven, and result-focused African public sector would lead to significant and measurable improvement in the continent’s economic, social, and political performance and, of course, a better life for its citizens.
He said, “A performing public sector improves the lives of the citizens we serve; for me, at the minimum, I will say, if you say you are a performing public servant, it means that you would make a bad situation better. You would make a good situation better and even you would make the best situation better and that’s all that we expect of you as citizens of the nation that benefit from your service.”