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#SEconomy: Redesigning Africa’s Public Sector

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“In the race for excellence, we ensure public sector efficiency, that would compete with what the private sector calls efficiency, thereby challenging them to redefine and scale up efficiency, if they must stay competitive”.

MOHAMMED BIN RASHID AL MAKTOUM – RULER OF DUBAI.

I remember being taught many growth and development models while in school. As much as they were critical to the “rat race experience” of knowing them to have and graduate with good grades. I passed through school with  pain and an intellectual burden as to the non-applicability of these models in the Nigerian context, and more importantly, that these thoughts and ignorance were recycled year after year, thereby empowering the rat race, draining passion and killing creativity. After much thought on this I realized two things;

  • Every theory or process taught were solutions proffered by the profounder at critical times of the economic history of their home countries. These theories worked and their intellectual contributions were appreciated by making them standards for learning in their respective fields.
  • Africa will have to come up with a locally fit development model, that applies per region and state, and when adequately applied with the right institutions, should work, and be appreciated by making them standards of learning, thereby rekindling the passion, and invariably filling up intellectual vacuums globally.

In furtherance to this, for the next few weeks, we will we proposing and suggesting recommendations we believe are workable, and place us on a more realistic path to economic inclusiveness in the new economy.We kick-start with THE PUBLIC SECTOR, using Nigeria as a case in point.

The Nigerian public sector has been highly ineffective since her independence. As much as I would not want to talk about the problems, of which I believe the average Nigerian is well aware about, I will give a list of the challenge – in a right context, to enable us drive home successful, our suggested solutions and recommendations, as it fits to the Nigerian context.

 

OUR CHALLENGE WITH THE PUBLIC SECTOR;

  • Misplacement of trust and unity amongst leaders at the point of independence, leading to the priority of self and regional interests, over National interest.
  • Corruption, from the days of independence hitherto.
  • Lack of empowered men and women in the society and invariably, lack of empowered leaders.
  • Owing lack of empowered leaders, we have a case of competing and inconsistent government priorities and programs.
  • Others include, Poor execution and delivery mechanisms, large capacity gaps, minimal pressure to perform, poor leverage on external stakeholders.

These existing challenge, has generally led to the following;

  • Large Variations in outcomes across the country, region and states.
  • Large gaps between spending and outcomes.
  • Large performance gaps.
  • More development complexities ,such as rising inequalities etc
  • Completely recreating a new order of challenge by trying to solve existing challenge
  • with more misfit policies and programs.

BIG DEVELOPMENT QUESTION(BDQ) – HOW CAN WE CLOSE THE HUGE PERFORMANCE GAPS AND AT THE SAME TIME ENSURE ECONOMIC INCLUSIVITY IN THE NEW ECONOMIY?

 

THE WAY FORWARD;

First before we discuss the way forward it is imperative I spot out some misalignments that exist and must be taken out, if our recommendations will produce results.

There exist a political party and ethnic affiliation syndrome. Many of our failures exist because opposition parties, who are strongly affiliated to parties over national interest, find themselves working together for the next four years. Project, contracts, programs, and sensitive posts are given cheaply to political party loyalists, at the expense of a merit system. Until this is stops, we continue in deceit.

The existence of irrelevant government  ministries, departments and agencies, made of unnecessary bureaucracy, empty think tanks, ghost workers and unimportant work functions. All these drain the national budget, increases cost of governance, creates  leakages in governance and performance delivery.

Take out the common notion that, the Nigerian public sector ensures job security, which breeds the recruitment of empty,lazy,unskilled and frustrating think tanks.

AFTER ALL SAID AND DONE WE THERFORE SUGGEST THE FOLLOWING TO IMPROVING PUBLIC SECTOR EFFICIENCY;

PART A – PRELIMINARIES

  • Engage an aggressive mental deprogramming exercise,that will place national interest over self,region or partisan interests, and reinstate public service as a call to a noble service, and real time responsibility (serious work).
  • Make the rule of law supreme and supreme over all.
  • Take out the impunity clause.
  • Make the judiciary and security agencies truly independent. The government or any legislative body, should not be fully involved in the process of appointing the head of these agencies.
  • See the complexity of challenge to deal with and make the recruitment process a merit based process………….and many more.

PART B – 21st CENTURY PRACTICAL PRAGMATIC APPROACH.

After getting through the personal and structural transformation. We then proceed to A SYSTEM TRANSFORMATION.

  • EMPOWER LEADERS AND BUILD CRITICAL CAPABILITIES; This is only achieved by getting the right leaders (on merit) on board and through training. Training must be done strategically  to fulfil the mandate of their specific organizations, roles and functions. Interactive learning formats that focuses on capabilities and knowledge, relevant to their jobs and could be applied to daily work,programs and projects should be encouraged, other than lecture based training.
  • PRIORITIZE PROGRAMS AND OUTCOMES; Taking cognizance of resource constraints and limited time, we suggest ,that programs and policies should only be implemented after a serious process of prioritization, such that these programs would be well implemented to the fullest, with resources well deployed to ensure strong and productive execution both at the federal, state and local levels. Currently we having too much, ranging from vision 20:20:20.Millennium development goals, transformation agenda, all breaking our focus and draining limited resource.
  • CLOSE MISALIGNMENTS,INTENSIFY PRESSURE TO PERFORM  AND SET UP DELIVERY UNITS-  As the government closes misalignments, builds capacity(which takes time)we suggest she sets up delivery units, that will circumvent bureaucratic process ,report progress directly to respective heads, become responsible for delivering results on areas of priority. These unit can be set up either in the federal,state,local governments or agencies.
  • We believe that the African development case has got to the point of urgency, the public sector must therefore play her role in creating the right and conductive environment for all development variables to function efficiently and lead our continent to shared prosperity. Join me next time as we explore further on this discourse, Cheers!

 

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CRO – Project Change Initiative A 21st Century Leadership, Organizational and Economic Development Strategist For comments, please visit Obele Jesuite on facebook, on twitter, gospel_obele@yahoo.com. For email: or contact 08130070991.

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