Why saving Kano civil service is imperative

I read with admiration, the write up by one Hassan Hassan Goronmaje in one of the recent Daily Trust’s publications. I equally read the response his write up attracted a few days after, from one Muhammad Abubakar.

By and large, what the two write ups provoked was the need for proactive measures to address the interesting issues of morality, merit and partisan involvement of civil servants in politics in Kano State.

How each of the writers raised the issues and what was perhaps left out in the crossfire, is what I hope to address.

It is very disturbing and unknown to many that Kano State Civil Service, known for its impartiality and professionalism, is now declining unprecedentedly.

The security of tenure, movement of workers to top positions, hitherto done on merit, morality and professionalism have been thrown overboard.

Excellence, which in the past, has been the trademark of the system, has been replaced with mediocrity and workers are being teleguided from the office of the chief executive, all in the name of reform.

The unfortunate thing about the current reform is that the whole script behind what is happening now is a calculated attempt and subversive plot to hurt the perceived interest of an individual, just to settle a score rather than to correct the ills of the system.

Those who are conversant with administration believe that the best policy is the one that focuses on the quality of human life and improves service delivery, not the one directed at hurting the interest of an individual.

That’s why in the cause of righting the perceived wrong of the past administration, rather than make the process work for the state the measures put in place have further inflicted maximum damage on the system.

For instance, when a top civil servant who was deeply involved in partisan politics but was later reappointed as permanent secretary after serving as one of the APC’s collation agents during the last gubernatorial election, the objective of the reform became questionable.

His reappointment as permanent secretary has raised issues of morality and credibility of the reform, much as he was running from pillar to post to ensure the success of the state governor in the last election.

In fact, all these developments in the state Civil Service are akin to partisan involvements which should be subjected to a thorough investigation.

Unless there are two different sets of rules for civil servants which favours some to practice politics openly while another is for those who exhibit neutrality but are perceived not to be loyal to the authorities and can cause their persecution and victimization, the issue of transparency and good governance in the reform is suspect.

That’s why civil societies have to take up this matter seriously.

For obvious reasons, it’s so easy to see how Kano Civil Service is declining unprecedentedly and the slide is being further accelerated by the present administration.

Workers who are already bearing the brunt have since started seeing the dangers boldly written on the wall as a result of the  devastation that has been visited upon them which is making them to gnash their teeth and yearn for better leadership.

No matter what observers would have to say, the fact remains clear that the impartiality of the Kano State civil service is now gone and something urgent must be done to save the system from its free fall and further destruction.

In the name of reform, the basic foundation of good governance has been eroded. The system has been shattered and workers’ confidence in the leadership has nosedived. And the consequence is breeding mediocrity at the expense of efficiency and professionalism.

While the issue of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) is a factor in measuring standards, the international practice has been replaced with nepotism, favouratism and mediocrity, and the development is critically undermining the process of reform in the state.

Before now, Kano civil service was a model in the country; a beacon of hope for workers and guide to various administrations since the state’s creation in 1967.

Regrettably, the fate of civil servants in this great state is now hanging in the balance and the good image of a civil servant is now swinging either way, very unstable and unpredictable.

Those who worked all their lives to promote the good of the state were retired forcefully and demoted in the process because of their perceived loyalty to a political figure, pushing aside the fundamental issues of morality, merit, professionalism and security of service.

The state government is gradually pulling down the roof on civil servants heads by failing to treat the top civil servants fairly, thereby developing a skewed, unrealistic, unsustainable civil service reform.

Already the leadership has failed to keep to what is right, hence the unmistakeable sign on the table is an agenda of the government so plain for everyone to see: Leadership by exclusion.

By letting the top civil servants slip away instead of building their capacities and treating them justly, the reform program is surely heading for the rocks.

What was done was a clear negation of the principle of fairness and is in glaring contravention of Section 210 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which stipulates that no decision should be taken against any civil servant in which it could negatively alter or affect his benefits as provided in the relevant pension law, particularly if he has contributed and spent between five and 10 years to the contributory pension scheme.

Therefore, initiating such a reform in a way that is capable of putting the workforce at a disadvantage position, particularly with regard to workers terminal benefits, is grossly unethical. Hence to hide behind such reform and inflict serious harm on a few selected individuals, smacks of nothing but political vendetta that cannot be justified.

Regrettably, this is what will keep Kano State backward in the next four years. But then, think where the state would have been today but for all the time wasted in the last four years.


Dan-Garko contributed this piece from Kano

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