Control Of The Civil Service In Nigeria

The existence of civil service as a Public organization, with extensive bureaucratic structures and vast responsibilities to the public makes for the necessity of its control. Also, the consequent expansion in the size of the bureaucracies have consequent expansion in the size of the bureaucracies have strengthened the need for control, and the establishment of institutions for the exercise of administrative and political control on the civil service. There are various control mechanisms, They are internal and external. They exist within the hierarchy of the civil service and outside the structure of its administrative powers. They exist as administrative courts and tribunals, and other relevant agencies established by the state and the political system for the exercise of control on the civil service.
However, control refers to measures aimed at restraining and checking rhe behaviours cum activities of public officers. This is with the view to preventing the abuse of administrative powers. Ehiodo (In 2006) sees control in the civil service as a measure to ensure that the civil servants observe and comply with the laws and the discipline expected in the performance of their official duties. It strives to conform the civil servants to the statutory and administrative scope of their powers and functions. The establishment Division in the cabinet office play immense role in this regard. Effective control is needed to prevent irresponsibility and the amelioration of the associated vices observed with public organizations. The civil service exists within an intricate political structures and institutions, which makes for the inevitability of control, and the evident complicated network of controls. Also, accountability, which indicates a form of control, is all about taking responsibility for decisions and being able to explain stewardship.
There exists various ways in which the civil service is controlled. The principal ways are discussed below:
1. Control Within The Hierarchy Of The Public Service (Internal
This is otherwise referred to as internal control, which involves the application of the rules and regulations governing the daily operations of the civil service. The rules and regulations are clearly embodied in the General Order (G.O.), financial instructions, circulars and handbooks. They serve as checks on the civil service and ensures that there is conformity of standards and the control of arbitrary actions. The General Orders or public service rules contains structures institutions and mechanisms for discipline, control and the promotion of effective service. The internal control of the civil service and its structural hierarchy is seen within the concepts of discipline of subordinates, issues and emphasis on seniority, promotion, and the imposing existence of the civil service commission, with its roles.
a. Discipline Of Subordinates
The internal structure of the civil service grants authorities of superior officers to exercise disciplinary action against any erring subordinates. This is done through issuance of verbal and written queries and the direction of the appropriate staff committee to initiate disciplinary proceedings in accordance with guidlinesand public rules on offence. The Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Departments exercise disciplinary control in delegated form, in respect of subordinates in grades levels 01-06. The delegation is limited to the area of dismissal or termination of appointment. For officers above graded level 07 and above, the power to exercise disciplinary action rests entirely on the civil service commission. Discipline is a veritable instrument of control in the service.
b. Seniority
Seniority is very much emphasized in the public service. It is determine by the date of appointment to the particular grade in which one is serving and the date of agreement. Also, there are positions and status in the civil service that are classified as senior positions, with responsibilities which extends to the control of subordinates and activities. Superior officers continually make judgements about their subordinates.
c. Promotion
This indicates the issue of ascendency to a higher cadre in the public service. Promotion is usually based on certain criteria which include, an evidence that the officer must have spent a minimum of two years in service and on a particular graded level. Also, the ratings in the annual performance evaluation report (Aper) is also taken into vast consideration. There are also situations where the scheme of service prescribes the passing of a promotional examination. And where the situation so exists, the success in the examination is regarded as a prerequisite for consideration. The instruments of promotion in the civil service help to regulate and control behaviours cum performance.
d. Civil Service Commission
The civil service commission exists with very important roles in the organization and functions of the civil service. It is established at the Federal, State and Local Government levels, to over see the activities of the civil service. It is created to recruit, appoint, promote and discipline civil servants. Through its functions, the commission controls the civil service.
The commission is also charged with the overall responsibility of training of civil servants. This is with efforts to enhance specialization and professionalism. To achieve, this it organizes methods, review grading, pay review, seminars, workshops, conferences and general management services. It manages and takes formidable decisions concerning pension schemes, gratuity and other entitlements.
2. External Control Of The Public Service (Political)
External control are imposed on the administrative system by actors who are considered as part of operative machinery of governance. It is control exercised by other stakeholders who are outside the bureaucratic structure of the state. They are affected by the overall performances of the public service; hence, they significantly hold a measure of control and wield influence on the activities of the public servants. They include the elected representatives of the people in the Parliament, the Press and the General public etc. The degree of the exercise of control on the civil service by these bodies is subsequently discussed:
a. Parliamentary Control
The parliament constitutes the representatives of the people in government. The Legislature Monitors the performance of the civil service in the implementation of approved policies and use of public funds. The Public service is responsible to the Parliament as a measure to check the above of administrative power. The parliamentary questions on public officers holds the objective of turning a searchlight upon the activities of the civil service. The fiscal accountability as applied by the Parliament with respect to public accounts and expenditures are measure to ensure financial probity in the management of public affairs and resources. Expenditures in the public service are thoroughly scrutiny by the legislature, to control the excesses, wastages and administrative powers of public servants. The parliamentary questionings or legislative scrutinizes are usually acknowledged as constituting a vital part of a democratic system.
b. The Press
The press remains the fourth estate of the realm, with strong influence on the political system. It is a powerful instrument for informing the people and a watch dog to abuses, arbitrariness and the excesses of public servants. It exposes maladministration, abuses, corrupt practices and gross negligence in the public service. Its cricisms in a free society, is a powerful instrument of control on the civil service.
c. The General Publics
The greatest control of the public service n a democratic setting is the people. They exercise discretionary power in electing or choosing their representatives who assume control over the machinery of the government. They also maintain continuing contacts with their representatives through various channels of communication and the expression of their interest and feelings concerning governance. They occasionally criticize the activities of the civil service and bring necessary and unnecessary pressures upon the administrators on the civil service to effect changes and reforms to their interest and yearnings.
3. Control By Administrative Courts And Judicial Commissions
The courts are established by the constitution to exercise judicial functions of adjudication, administration of justice and the punishement of offenders. The judicial powers are extended to administrative tribunals, commissions and bureaux, with discretionary powers to handle technical matters which the ordinary courts are not adequately equipped to deal with.
The civil services operates under the law, and are supposed to work in strict conformity with the constitution and other enabling statutes in the country. Also, there is need to protect the citizens from the arbitrariness of public officers.
The courts adopt one or a combination of remedies to avert abuses of administrative power and avert infrigements on the citizen’s rights and privileges. The judicial remedies consists of order of mandamus, orser of prohibitation, order of certiorari, habeaus corpus, injunctions, declaratory judgements, and the doctrines of ultra vires natural justice and the rule of law. These are judiciary machinery integral to the overall control and regulation of the activities of the civil service.
4. Control Through Appointments Of Permanent Secretaries/Ministers/Commissioners
Another important measure of control of the civil service is the control of recruitments to administrative and ministerial positions. This control is essential in securing the highest standards of civil service conducts and performances. The appointment of ministers/commissioners and the permanent secretaries constitute a check on abuse of administrative power in the civil service. Their positive hold on the top-echelon of the civil service is considered positive demonstration of executive control over the conduct of the civil service.
The ministers in serving effectively as political masters of their departments/ministries exercise more decision making powers, which significantly strengthen the control of the civil service.
The Permanent Secretaries derive their power of control from the permanence of their tenure. They are equipped with adequate and up-to-date knowledge, as well as relevant technical and appropriate skills cum experience. The expertise they acquire as career administratoes in the process, constitute a source of power and control of the civil service. They hold the delegated power to appoint, promote and discipline officers in the civil service. They are usually appointed by the government.
In Summary
Control is really a measure aimed at restraining and checking the behaviours of the civil servants, with a view to preventing abuse and maintaining standards. The nature and existence of public service calls for a complicated network of controls. These controls are political, administrative and in-built in the intricate structure of our political and legal systems.
The civil service has emerged as a powerful and bureaucratic organization, making for the necessity of control. The control is significant to strengthen the conformity to standards, procedures and efficient performance. And it constitutes a vital part and mechanism of change in our democratic system.