By Dayo Johnson, Akure
MINISTER of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms Amal Pepple, yesterday, expressed concern over mutual suspicion and apprehension between public servants and their political leaders in the administration of government affairs in the Country. Pepple regretted that the political leaders and civil servants do not see their roles as partners but competitors in nation-building.
She spoke in Akure at the 2012 Iju Public Affairs Forum to commemorate the 70th birthday of the convener, Prof Ladipo Adamolekun, held at the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA.
Yesterday’s celebration lecture, chaired by Mr Sam Amuka, the Publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, was attended by Governors Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State and Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Senator Bode Olajumoke among other eminent personalities. According to the Minister, if mutual suspicion is not checked, it may have untold consequences on the system by impacting it negatively.
Delivering the public lecture, entitled, “Relationship between Higher Civil Servants and their Political Masters”, Pepple said that elected leaders, in their assessment, deride public servants as “too bureaucratic, lethargic, incompetent, uncooperative, unproductive, obstructive and corrupt.
She added that public servants too also “see the political masters as “inexperienced, pursuers of short term political gains, impatient, immature, self-centered, greedy, uncaring, parochial and equally corrupt”.
According to her, the two groups are constantly in a struggle to fix each other in their pre-conceived mould of mental judgment which “invariably breeds mutual suspicion and apprehension thereby setting the stage for conflict.
The Minister noted that friction also occurs when political leaders attempt to drag civil servants into the murky waters of politics by coercing them to pursue narrow partisan interests which may not be in the national interest and the civil servants choose to resist the pressure by acting professionally.
In other words, Pepple added that a civil servant too may choose to explore the privileged of access to the political master to seek for unmerited favour such as appointment to strategic positions and the political masters refuse to bow to such pressures.
She expressed concern that appointment into the civil service is not merit-driven, saying “there are concerns that the recruitment process into the service is highly influenced by both political and administrative leadership”.
On the part of the political leaders, the Minister said there should be as little influence as possible in service matters such as posting, transfers, promotions, preparedness to act ethically at all times and clear demonstration of competence on the job and no request for departures from declared and approved policies to suit individual cases.
Pepple said that the two should understand that they occupy strategic positions in government and their collaboration and partnership is very essential for proper administration of the state and the achievement of strategic national priorities for advancing the cause of national development.
The chairman of the occasion, Mr Amuka, described the celebrant as a man of skill and talent who is highly sought after within and outside the country, adding that he has always given his best to Nigeria.
Amuka however regretted that the nation’s civil service is the problem of the country. According to him, the nation cannot improve without the civil service. Mimiko and Fayemi eulogized the celebrant for his contribution to the nation’s development through his writings.
Mimiko called for the restructuring of the system to allow for true federalism for the nation to move forward.