In the new Nigeria, there is a call to all public officers to live up to their name, ‘Public Servants.’ The public servant is the one who has committed the best of his abilities in service to Nigeria in accordance with the vision and values of the new Nigeria. It will no more be said that government business is nobody’s business.
The dilemma of the Servants and the Masters
In Nigeria, there seems to be a misunderstanding of the word ‘servant’. Servants (elected and appointed officers) are meant to render service to their masters (the electorate) who put them into
office but somehow this has not been the case in Nigeria.
In the old Nigeria, it was virtually impossible for the master to find his servant to make a request of him. Servants actually were not only inaccessible to their masters but were also confident enough to always know what was good for the master. Servants told their masters what they should ask for and when they should ask for it. They also demanded of their masters, gratitude for solving the needs that they assessed as priority. In the new Nigeria, this system cannot work. The master is supposed to see his servant when he desires to be able to communicate to him his needs. We recommend that public servants be mandated by law to have a known schedule and timing when they must be available to their constituency.
Also, under the old system there was another misnomer; the sacrifice for mastery and the rewards of service. It was like the strange picture the wise king Solomon painted; servants on horses and princes walking. In the old Nigeria, elected and appointed servants paid no price for service but were actually pampered and outrageously compensated for accepting to ‘serve’. While the masters had to toil and labour night and day to pay taxes so that their servants may serve comfortably. In the new Nigeria, we cannot afford to keep distracting our public servants with so much wealth and entitlements, for they need to channel more of their time to their primary function of service.
The new Nigeria is built on leadership by example and hinged on moral values. Therefore, it is safe to
say that public servants who sacrifice all to serve their masters should be first partakers of their services whether in the health, education, power sectors of the economy. It would be so unfair of we the masters to deprive them and their families the chance of being first beneficiaries of the facilities (good enough for the masters) they worked tirelessly to provide. In the old Nigeria, it was another odd sight to see our public servants patronize international services in areas such as health and education, leaving the masters to enjoy the fruits of all their labour. This we say is not the best if we as a nation must fulfill the vision of the new Nigeria.
This is a reminder to all public officers that you swore to an oath to uphold the constitution of the country which states in sections 14, 15, 16 and 20;
14. (1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.
(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that:
(a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority;
(b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government
(2) The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring:
(a) the promotion of a planned and balanced economic development;
(b) that the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good;
(c) that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group; and
(d) that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled are provided for all citizens
15. (1) The motto of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.
(2) Accordingly, national integration shall be actively encouraged, whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited.
(3) For the purpose of promoting national integration, it shall be the duty of the State to:
(a) provide adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughtout the Federation.
(b) secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the Federation.
(c) encourage inter-marriage among persons from different places of
origin, or of different religious, ethnic or linguistic association or ties; and
(d) promote or encourage the formation of associations that cut across ethnic, linguistic, religious and or other sectional barriers.
(4) The State shall foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various people of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties.
(5) The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power
16. (1) The State shall, within the context of the ideals and objectives for which provisions are made in this Constitution.
(a) harness the resources of the nation and promote national prosperity and an efficient, a dynamic and self-reliant economy;
(b) control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity;
(c) without prejudice to its right to operate or participate in areas of the economy, other than the major sectors of the economy, manage and operate the major sectors of the economy;
(d) without prejudice to the right of any person to participate in areas of the economy within the major sector of the economy, protect the right of every citizen to engage in any economic activities outside the major sectors of the economy
20. The State shall protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air and land, forest and wild life of Nigeria.
…these are but a few of the words you promised to uphold. We simply request of you nothing new but that which you swore to do. The above responsibilities give no allusion to government being saddled with the responsibilities of business operations. Therefore, government should formulate requisite policies and institutional frameworks that create the enabling environment for the private sector to start-up and operate businesses, if we are to have a successful economy.
To all other public servants
No government can function effectively without the help of different levels of committed personnel. To this end, many Nigerians acknowledge and appreciate your contributions to national growth in the old Nigeria having operated under some of the most unbearable working and living conditions in the world. In the new Nigeria, we must work together to change these inhumane conditions to enhance better service to our nation.
We request of you to exemplify the core values of the new Nigeria in whatever you are asked to do. Make up your mind to live with the utmost sense of integrity in carrying out your duties and responsibilities. Be committed to go beyond the call of duty. Be the change that you seek in the world. Decide to be the difference maker in your sector. Become the definition of patriotism and selfless service.
A good character is important for the actualization of the vision of the new Nigeria but this cannot replace the need for the highest levels of competency; continually seek to improve your knowledge of what you do. Remember, knowledge is power. Seek up-to-date information about whatever you do so you can fully harness your God-given abilities.
It is high time we got rid of the plague called the ‘Nigerian Factor’. This has been the unwritten constitution that has governed our practices and attitudes for so many years. It is the system where moral aberrations and unacceptable practices are established as the norm. We can work together to lay the right foundations based on true moral values.
Remember, no one can ever pay you enough for your service. Therefore be motivated for service by your love for God, Nigeria and yourself. Also, bear this in mind that people rarely forget those who treat them with care and respect.
Thank you and God bless Nigeria.
Culled from my book, “Creating a New Nigeria”