Civil Service and National Development in Nigeria


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The civil service is one of the agents of development in any nation. The transformation of any society or system depends on the effectiveness and efficiency of its civil service, particularly  the developing societies. This project work critically assessed the civil service and national development, using Benue State Civil Service as the study area. the research reveals that since the public bureaucracy is the most important instrument of national development. However, over the years it has been politicized.

Also, it reveals that, since independence, it has become clear that the challenge of the Nigerian civil service is more than mere maintenance of law and order. Finding in Nigeria civil service constitutes one of the major problems towards national development. Finally, the following recommendations are made: that the Benue State Civil Service should be provided with better condition of service like promote payment of salaries and allowance, adequate and comfortable working conditions etc, that the federal and states government need to make available funds for implementation of programmes and  policies by the civil service.


Civil Service and National Development in Nigeria




1.1  Background of the study

The quest for attainment of national development has become very imperative in almost all nations of the world, especially countries of the south otherwise regarded as Third World Countries, which our country Nigeria is never left out. Today in Nigeria, it is obvious that many symbols of development are lacking, precisely access to good roads, portable water, health institutions, adequate education and a stable power supply (electricity) to mention but a few. The polity is characterized by unemployment and lack of infrastructure among others (underdevelopment).

Given this level of underdevelopment in the country, the Nigeria civil service has been recognized as viable tool and workforce for enhancing development in the polity. In view of this, Asiodu (2020) rightly observed;

We have seen that the task of government today In a developing country like Nigeria is even more Immense and are unique and must be performed Satisfactory. The executive arm of government is The civil service. The effectiveness of a government

is to a very great extent determined by the efficiency and competency of the civil service. The higher civil service indeed plays a crucial role in that, it participates fully in the formulation of policy

and at the same time, responsible for the execution

of agreed policies”.   


He also posited that:

“The civil service in Nigeria is increasingly required

to prepare development plans to appraise and select industrial and agricultural projects, to decide when new roads, rail ways, harbour bridges or Telecommunication facilities should be constrained and the optimum size of investments in the projects at any given time in the light of carefully analyzed projections demands and on the basis of cost/benefit analysis”.


He added that:

“Modern government is a vast business whose activities directly impinge on the lives of every citizen in the country. It is often the largest employer and disposer of large portion of national product. Its decisions directly affect the rate of growth of the national economy. It is essential that it should function effectively. The executive arm is the civil service”.

Stemming from Asiodu’s view, it may be agreed that the Nigeria civil service is charged with the responsibility of charting the course of development through the institution, by formulation and implementation of policies, programmes and projects for developmental purposes.

The Nigeria civil service has its origins in organizations established by the British in colonial times. Nigeria gained full independence in October 1960 under a constitution that provided for a parliamentary government and a substantial measure of self-government for the country’s three regions. Since then, various panels have studies and made recommendations for reforming of the civil service, including the Margan Commission of 1963, the Adebo Commission of 1971 and the Udoji commission of 1972-74. A major change occurred with the adoption of 1979 of a constitution modeled on that the United States.

The Dotum Philips panel of 1985 attempted to reform the civil service. The was a major impact on the structure and efficiency of the civil service by General Ibrahim Babangida in 1988. The civil service has been undergoing gradual and systematic reforms and restructuring since May 29, 1999 after decades of Military rule. However, the civil service is still considered stagnant and inefficient, and the attempts made in the past by panels have had little effect.

In August 2009, the Head of the civil service Stephen Osagiede Oronsaye, proposed reforms where permanent secretaries and directors would spend a maximum of eight years in office. The reform approved by President Umaru Yar’Adua, would result in massive retirement of permanent secretaries and Directors, many of whom are from the North. According to Stephen Oronsaye, his goal is for the Nigerian civil service to be among the best organized and managed in the world. He retired in November 2010 at the statutory age of 60 and was succeeded by Oladapo Afolabi.

Hence the Benue State civil service, other states civil service and the federal service have been collectively ascribed the role of achieving this objective. In the present democratic dispensation or setting, the challenges of the government are expected to be higher. Therefore, it is ideal to look at the significance and role of the civil service in the process, articulate the problems that have affected its performance, as it has been observed that the civil service is the apparatus that translates programmes and decisions of the political class into concrete realities.


1.2   Statement of Problem

The utmost desire is for a people in a society are to live satisfactorily to their needs as human beings. It involves the decent and favourable living in a society like Nigeria. So far, we may all admit that this has not been attained. Indeed, it is fan obvious fact that in Nigeria today, there are no adequate health institutions, shortage of potable water supply, accessible roads, stable power (Electricity). There is poverty to the extent that most citizens are living below the development/poverty line. In other words, there is near absolute absence of potentials for development. Public schools in the country are not adequately cantered for and there is also a low level of infrastructure in the polity.

Resulting from the aforementioned problems, it is pertinent to embark on this research work to expose the causes of the enumerated problems above and proffer long lasting solutions as to how the civil service can enhance national development in Nigeria. This, therefore, constitutes the problem of this research.

The general objective of this study is to investigate the relationship between the civil service and national development, using Benue State service as a case study.

1.3  Objectives of the Study

Following the level of underdevelopment in Nigeria today, however this research work is carried out or rather embarked upon in order to achieve the following specific objectives:

(i)    To determine whether civil service in Nigeria can enhance national development

(ii)   To examine the possible contributions of the Benue State civil service to national development.

(iii)  To ascertain whether civil service performance is better recorded under democratic setting than military regime.

(iv)  To recommend lasting solutions to the obstacles to be identified 


Civil Service and National Development in Nigeria

1.4  Research Question

To understand the varying views of the public about the civil service and national development, the following questions have been put forward to guide the researcher in carrying out the investigation.

  • Does civil service in Benue State enhance National Development?
  • What are the contributions of Benue State civil service to national development?
  • Does civil service performance in enhancing national development better recorded under democratic setting than military regime?
  • Is the Benue State civil service performance better noticed under democracy than under military rule?
  • What strategies can overcome the obstacles of Benue State civil service in its efforts to contribute to national development?


1.5  Significance of the Study

This research examines the role civil service play in the development programmes of Nigeria. Thus, this study will assist policy makers and scholars with a more fundamental conceptualization of the civil service development plans. Moreso, it is perceived that this study will be of immense significance in the sense that it will bring to light and knowledge the obstacles confronting civil service in Nigeria and how these problems militate against national development and proffer remedies to these problems or obstacles.

Similarly, it is anticipated that at the end of this study, citizens of Nigeria will be exposed and conscientized on the needs for development, as this is attainable through concerted endeavours.


1.6  Scope and Limitations of the Study

Due to the brand nature of this type of research, the scope of this work has been reduced to Benue State civil service. The Benue State civil service consists of many Ministries: Ministry of works and Housing, land and survey, Ministry of Water Resources and Environment, ministry of Justice, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Ministry of Solid Mineral Development, Ministry of Animal and Forestry Resources Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Ministry of Special Duties, and its roles in national development.

The work covers the period of 1999 to 2007, this is perceived to be an imperative period, because, it is the period of Nigeria’s return to democratic rule after a prolonged military rule in the country. Also the period marks, in the history of the country, the successful transition to a democratically elected government.

There are usually hindrances to a comprehensive or thorough coverage to any research work. Because of this, some works cannot be as vivid as they should be. An unavoidable limitation of this work is finance. Since inadequate finance is the problem of the society at large, the researcher was unable to reach out to every sphere of the area of study. There was also the paucity of materials and information that would have enhanced the quality of the work.

Civil Service and National Development in Nigeria

1.7  Operational Definition of Terms

For easy appreciation/understanding of the key variables as used in the context of this study, there is every need to give their conceptual and operational meanings.

Civil Service: According to Balogun (1998) “the term civil service is normally used when referring to a body of men including women employed in a civil capacity and non-political career basis by the federal and state government primarily to render advice and faithfully give effect to their decisions”. This definition has left aside the police, and armed forces, judicial personnel, intelligential as well as statutory corporate bodies and boards such as power holding company of Nigeria, Railway Corporation and many others.  

Development: For a clear understanding of national development, it is important to know what development entails. Tomoro (1997) observed that “development implies the complete modernization of a society into an industrial one, and it means a change in the whole way to life, in expectations and motivations, and even the physical environment or diary life itself”.

National Development: This refers t the ability of a nation to improve the lives of its citizens. Measures of improvement may be material, such as an increase in gross democratic product or social, such as literacy rate and availability of healthcare.

Civil: of or relating to citizens and their interrelations with one another or with the state: government agencies concerned with civil affairs.

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