Problems and Prospects of Public Administration in Nigeria
Public administration simply refers to the methods, processes and mechanisms put in place in the implementation of government policies. Public administration attempts to explain how decisions in government are made as well as administering projects to carry out those decisions. Public administration deals primarily with the structure and workings of agencies charged with the administration of governmental fuctions.
1 – Bureaucracy. The red tape is quite long in public administration.
2 – Responsibility to the Public. Public administrators are responsible to the people.
3 – Accountability. Public officers are expected to render accounts of how they have discharged their duties.
4 – Monopolistic Approach. There is no competition with the government in public administration.
5 – Profit Not Primary Objective. Profit is not the primary objective of any government concern, but service rendering.
6. Rule of Law
Public Administration in Nigeria is characterized by all these features as well. The fact that Nigeria is a federal state makes red tapism a predominant feature. Many believe that the biggest problem that public administration faces is the that Nigerians do not seek accountability.
The dwindling economy and unstable state of things make people concerned primarily about earning a living, catering for their families and mending a brighter future for themselves that they have little or no time to digress and monitor what public officers are doing, or what the government as a whole is doing.
Nigerians only complain when the negative effects of a policy affects them directly. Otherwise, they are relatively comfortable staying away from anything that has to do with government.
Nigerian public administration has been plagued by a number of problems which have had and are still having adverse effects on public confidence, national growth and the economy. These problems are:
It is no surprise that this comes in as number one on this list. We are constantly greeted by news of looting claims and arrests made by the EFCC on a daily basis concerning misappropriation of public funds. These are just less than 5% of the actual corruption that takes place in the country. It almost seems like corruption is written in the DNA of Nigerian public office holders.
2) RIGIDITY, BUREAUCRACY AND RED TAPISM
The Nigerian public service is characterized by gross inflexibility, which involves clinging to ”normal” practices. It is no news that many public service holders have a phobia for change because of the ease of application of the ”normal” ways. Also, one of the major impediments to quick action can be traced to excessive red tapism. ”After a file has worked its way through the various departmental levels, the customary procedure requires that it begins all over again at the lowest clerical level, proceeding for notations through the various secretarial ranks up to the permanent secretary’s desk”. This has been termed ”procedural sluggishness”. This prevents quick action and a delay in solving problems.
3) THE ”NATIONAL CAKE” MENTALITY
The national cake mentality refers to the predominant belief that Nigeria’s resources is a ‘national cake’ that is meant for sharing among major ethnic groups. This yields the unending demand for fragmentation of governmental structure, whereas the obvious difficulties that accompany fragmentation have not been addressed.
4) POOR REMUNERATION
The remuneration which includes salaries and wages of public servants in Nigeria is alarmingly low and this in fact causes serious problems. The salaries of workers at federal level are a universe higher that those of states. When the salaries of those involved in the administration of public resources are low, this creates a temptation for them to steal and act inappropriately. Minimum wage currently stands at N18,000 which was increased to that level by Dr Goodluck Johnathan. The current inflation rate in the country is not helping too, as it seems the general price level has been multiplied by 2. Everything is two times more expensive that it was a year ago. Inflation always adversely affects fixed income earners like public office holders. This pushes them to the edge. How will they work well when they don’t have money to survive?
5) FEDERAL CHARACTER
Federal character was put in place to ensure a fair representation of every ethnic group and constituent in the government of the nation. This is due to the vast diversity of the nation. While many would argue that this is a good practice, federal character makes it possible for mediocre people to be picked just to give a region fair representation in government.
This means that if 5 people from Cross River are suitable and extremely for 5 jobs, for example…. Maybe just about 2 of them will finally be picked while 3 will be shared among other regions. The other 3 might not be as good as the first 3.
6) POLITICIANS, NOT LEADERS/MANAGERS
Most public office holders got their position because they are/were politicians. They usually have no clue about leadership or management and thus the country is left in the hands of unqualified people. Take for example, the new president of the United States of America, Donald Trump. He is a billionaire and a successful business man. Such a man has been able to properly manage his business, which means he can properly manage the country. Same cannot be said for Nigeria.
1) Investing in Human Capital Development
Human Capital is one strong force that can immensely shape the economy of any nation. Education, apprenticeship, workshops, seminars, etc… should be improved upon to help out here.
2) ICT in Government
I always say this. The first step to countering corruption is with ICT. ICT will ensure proper monitoring of the activities of public office holders. It will also make things easier and faster, and red tapism will be cut to a large extent.
3) Improved Remuneration
Prices increase with ease, but go down with a strain. The prices are already up and public servants cannot meet up with their basic needs anymore. They should be offered better remuneration packages.
4) Proper Leadership Mentality
There needs to be a rebranding and a reshaping. It irks me whenever I remember that there was no presidential debate in the last elections. That was disappointing. We never got the chance to hear from the aspirants exactly what they intended to do in office. Leadership should be about honesty, accountability and management. We need more leaders and less politicians.
5) Empowering Institutions of Accountability
It always seems to many that ever since Ribadu was forced out of the EFCC, there hasn’t really been an EFCC. These accountability institutions have to be empowered so that they can carry out their duties properly and ensure accountability on the side of public office holders.
Public administration affects us all and we all must be interested in what goes on in our government. There is work to be done to beat the problems that the Nigerian public administration is ladened with, but with time, and with the current trend, things will get better.
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