By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday said Nigeria’s civil service has not been able to rise up fully to its responsibility due to corrupt tendencies that have been entrenched in the system.
According to him, the modest achievements recorded by the service have been dwarfed by rampant corruption perpetuated by civil servants.
The Acting President made these remarks in an address he delivered at an inaugural quarterly civil service lecture with the theme: “Civil Service in a Change Environment: The Change is Now”.
Osinbajo said the system which had firmly stood against injustices and high-handedness that characterized the military era, when leadership was mainly by promulgation of decrees, suddenly came crashing when civil servants began to see their functions as means to achieving personal aggrandizement,rather than the common good of the Nigerian state.
Apparently referring to the elite class in the civil service, osinbajo noted that more often than not they appropriate roles meant to further their personal gains and leave the masses impoverish.
He said: “It was the judiciary that told the military then that while it may make laws those laws should still respect the inalienable rights of the people as enshrined in international human right conventions to which the country had voluntarily acceded.
“These were individuals without guns,just sitting down on platforms up there in the court who insisted on holding the military responsible.
“Despite the criticisms that civil servants are subjected to,am sure that you know that sometimes civil servants are described as ‘evil servants’ but you must take heart, the best profession are usually the most criticized, but I must say that the wholesome privilege of public service is very easily abused or taken for granted. The public service elite represents as we have seen the most important factor in mass development.
“The power to do great good or evil lies with a few people who form what we refer to as our civil service, when some in such an elite see the opportunity as one for self enrichment by corrupt practices then the nation faces a monumental tragedy.
“There is no excuses anywhere in a nation where the majority are still poor and are struggling to make a living that anyone who has the benefit of good education and good fortune of a job in the civil service should subvert that service for personal gains, I think its the greatest tragedy that a nation can experience”.
Head of Civil Service of the Federation,Winifred Oya-Ita in her presentation took a swipe at the media, which she said had been more interested in the shortcomings of the service leaving out the modest gains so far made.
According to her, the Federal Civil Service in particular had been in the forefront of national cohesion and had ensured smooth transition of power from one to another government, be it in the military or civilian administration.
Oyo-Ita, further argued that the civil service, under her leadership would chart a new course that would be driven by efficiency, productivity, transparency and interest of citizens.