Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called for a reform of the Nigerian civil service by doing “something bold and big that will make a difference.”
According to him, a mass housing policy for all civil servants fits into this “bold and big” agenda, a statement signed by presidential spokesperson Laolu Akande on Friday said.
Prof Osinbajo reportedly made the comment on Thursday at the Presidential Villa when he received a brief on the Federal Civil Service Strategy & Implementation Plan 2021-2025, presented by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan.
The meeting is a Presidential Level Briefing of the reform process of the Federal Civil Service which has been on since 2017.
The reform is being led by Steering and Implementation Committees with membership drawn from the public and private sectors with the engagement of development partners.
Thursday’s meeting was attended by the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami; Ministers of Labour & Employment, Dr Chris Ngige; Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; Ministers of State, Budget & National Planning, Prince Clem Agba; and Works and Housing, Engr. Abubakar Aliyu.
The Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu, some of Nigeria’s development partners including officials of the World Bank and the President of the Africa Initiative for Governance, Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, (a private sector representative and member of Steering Committee) were also present.
Speaking after listening to Dr Yemi-Esan’s presentation and subsequent contributions by ministers and other participants at the meeting, the Vice President noted that “it is evident that perhaps, for the first time in a long time, some very serious attention is being paid to all of the various issues in our civil service.”
According to Osinbajo, “I think that we should really do something that is bold, big and that will really make the difference in order to address some of the issues especially that of accommodation for civil servants.
“We can do much more with mass housing. We have a target now of 300,000 houses under our ESP social housing scheme. CBN has allocated N200 billion, but we have seen that we can provide mass housing, and we can make civil servants beneficiaries of the scheme.”
“Though the housing scheme is very modest, it is the sort of thing that we can at least do, to begin to take into account, the fact that everybody who worked for the civil service deserves to live in their own home. There must be a strategy for giving everybody a place to live in,” Osinbajo added.
Making the point about access to affordable homes being one of the easiest ways to get people out of poverty, Prof Osinbajo said “it is a vital part of what we are trying to do”, noting that “we must address it. A civil servant ought to be able to own a home, and justify to his family the reason why he went for the job”.
Relating his experience while serving as Attorney General in Lagos State, Prof. Osinbajo said that like what was done with the reform of the Lagos State Judiciary, fixing the welfare of federal civil servants would be key to addressing challenges associated with productivity and corruption.
The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation also presented a report on the implementation status of the Federal Civil Service Strategy Plan 2017-2021.
Earlier in her presentation, Dr Yemi-Esan identified staff welfare particularly, remuneration and housing as areas that require better focus and urgent intervention by the Federal Government.
She appealed for improved support, particularly in funding the implementation of successive strategy and implementation plans to overhaul the service for better productivity.
The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation said the current reform in the Federal Civil Service has enabled government to save huge sums through the verification of personnel payroll and digitization of some operations, among others.
The Head of Service would continue to lead the reform process as the 2021-2025 plan goes forward to the Federal Executive Council for approval.
Thursday’s meeting featured comments and observations on the proposed plan tabled on behalf of the Steering Committee chaired by the Head of Service.