The Nigeria Public Service Commerce Essay

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In looking at the challenges facing traditional human resource management in the Nigeria public service it is expedient to look at the transformation of the public service from the military time to present day democratic dispensation as a lot has happened over the years. The Nigeria public service is the largest employer of labour in Nigeria, entrusted with the responsibility of maintenance of law and order and Provision of basic social amenities. The public service has structures and institutions that take care of the societal needs of the citizens (Norman 2007). Over the years it can be said that the public service has reduced in teams of morals and attitude to work hence it has become difficult for social and governmental services to be performed (Campos et al 1997). The role of the public service cannot be over emphasised as it's involved in policies formation, implementation and evaluation of the programmes of government. Over the years the public service had undergone various forms of reforms that create the platform for public servants to carry out their job or duties in the best professional manner. Public services reform is very important because it brings about effectiveness and efficiency in the way public servant discharges their duties as well as meets the several social political and economic needs of the citizens (corkery 1995). Reforms in the public service in Nigeria dates back to 1949 when the British were in charge of affairs in the public services, at that time they appointed commissioners and who were in charge of the various institution and while they maintained a central decision making system from London. After independence Nigeria public services has undergone various reforms beginning with the philipsons commission reform of 1952, Adeso commission of 1970, public services reform of 1974, Udoji and Alison Ayida reform of 1994 and very recent the public service reform 2005. According to (winter 2002) the reason for these reforms is to position the public services to be effective and efficient in the discharge of their duties in relation to increasing the performance of public servant and the public services.

However the bases for under taken these reforms were to address the issues that have crippled the public services till date. These issues are identify by (winter 2002) as poor working conditions , lack of transparency, corruption, lack of accountability by political offices holders as well as appointees. Others are poor remuneration package, job insecurity, lack of discipline, lack of a merit based recruitment and selection system as well as a hiring and promotion procedure. The reforms also look at the issue of standardization of the public service and the use of public service position to compensate political figures and godfathers etc. These were some of the major issues the various reforms were set to address in the Nigeria public service. With the aim of improving personals in the public service by developing their skills and capabilities which will aide effective and efficient discharge of quality services ensuring high level accountability (Tommaso 1997).

The effectiveness of an organisation whether private , public or non- governmental is see in the way and manner in which they carry out their job which could indicate performance of their human resource (Kneedler 2000). It is important to note that public services practices or activities are personal oriented indicating that the only way public services can achieve effectiveness or provide quality service is to ensure that traditional human resource management is practices to the letter as this has the possibility of increasing the employees level of commitment to work as well as ensuring employees loyalty which will result in the goals and objective of the organisation been achieved (pfeffer 1994). In (June 2008) the Nigeria public service reported that the public service is still weak as it lacked the skills and competencies for providing quality services to the Nigeria publics. Scholars like (guest 1997 and Boselie, 2003) believes that a good human resources management practice can enhance performance in the public service or can bring about effectiveness in the way employees carry out their jobs. The aim of this work is to look at the challenges that have faced the Nigeria public service and how traditional human resource management practices can improve on the quality of service in the public service as well as looking at the extent to which human resource practices are been used in the public service or how can human resource practices be used to achieve public sector objectives.

Furthermore this work will compare human resource activities in the public sector as against the private sector as this will show the extent of usage in both sectors. Also it will be of importance to look at human resource management in the west in caparison to what is obtained in the Nigeria public sector. Despite the reforms carried out over the years one would want to know why public organisations in Nigeria are still ineffective, could this be other challenges other than those that have been raised in the various reforms carried out. Most times certain factors like environment factor which may be economic, social, political, cultural etc may contribute to the effectiveness of the public services as it is difficult to attract, retain or even motivate employees under certain condition. That is to say if public service can not attract the right candidates then they will definably have problems with delivering quality service to the public. Also the possibility of retaining capable staff that will be willing to contribute their effort in ensuring that the goals and objective of the organisation is achieved

Finally, the organisation that this work will be carried out on is the warri north local government area of delta state of Nigeria. The oil rich local government is located in koko town and serves as the headquarters for the local government.

Literature review

Traditional human resource management today is seen to be a significant aspect to the growth development and success of businesses all over the world although this has not been the case in most places like in the developing societies as they are still in doubt on how human resource management practice will bring about growth and development (Hilderbrand and Grindle 1997). Over the years the Nigeria public service has not been very effective because of the state of the economy, poor management system, and deplorable working condition, constant political interference amongst other issue (Jaeger et al 1995) a situation that has brought about demonization of public servants. According to ( Mussie Teclemichael Tessema and Joseph L. Soeters 2006) the Nigeria public services has been faced with personal challenges which can be seen in the way and manner things are been done for instance how employees are recruited, the way they are trained, and importantly the working condition in teams of welfare of the employees and facilities used for work. The way to getting the public services to be effective is by looking at the issues facing it. According to Hilderbrand and Grindle (1997) the main challenges facing the Nigeria public services are that of bad or poor recruitment and selection system or procedure, one that is unable to attract the best and qualified candidates for the job. Also the public service do not recognizes hard work as promotions and rewards are based on tribalism, favouritism, political influence, closeness to superiors, patronage etc. Other issue has to do with low pay which does not encourage the employees to put in their best to deliver effective services to the public. a situation that has been said to be demotivating. Also the public service is at a point where it is very difficult to fire an employee that as failed in his or her duties because of the connection of such employee within and outside the organisation more so with a public servants in most cases do find themselves in dissatisfying job roles or position and these are real challenges that has made human resources management practices difficult in the public services (Cohen and Wheeler 1997). However there are possibilities for improving these situations but it's important to understand that organisations do not achieve effectiveness by a applying human resources management practices alone, as this is just one factor for achieving success (Guest 1997) as measuring public services effectiveness is more challenging than that of the private sector. This is because the effectiveness of the public sector cannot be traced to a particular human resource management function (Hays and Revees 1984) although human resources management practise helps organisations to be very effective as well as to be performance oriented.

However the effectiveness of the public services cannot be said to be the sole responsibility of human resources functions or personnel. This is because there are other factor that aid public services effectiveness such as political, economical, social and cultural when these factors are well managed then the public service can function effectively (Guest 1997) . Although we cannot over state the significance of human resource management practice in public service as it its a tool for achieving public services relevance. There are certain human resource outcomes that can also aid public services effectiveness such as competencies which could be seen as the ability of an employee to fit around his or her job role. In the Nigeria public service has been seen to be demotivating courtesy of poor working conditions low salary and remuration , bad performance management and reward system etc. This indicate that when human resource management practices are up held the organisation will be seen as one that is very effective, because there is performance at both the employees and organisations level (Fey et al and Guest 1997). Also human resource activities can be used to compliment other non human resources activities in other to achieve organisations effectiveness (Paauwe 1998)

Moreover, there are theories that suggest that a good implementation of human resource practice can bring about organisation effectiveness; some of such theories are the expectancy theory and the resource based theory. The expectancy theory shows the employees ability to give in his best as a result of what he is expecting as reward for his labour. Tis may be seen as a form of motivation for employees. While the resource based theory emphasise that the organisations development their employees in other to achieve competitive advantage. The application of these theories will ensure effectiveness at both employee and organisation level (Paauwe 1998).according to (Guest 1997) there are certain human resource practice that can affect or impact on an organisations effectiveness such as recruitment and selection, training and development, performance evaluation ,compensation, pension system, promotions and transfer and grievance procedures. This human resources practice has about four outcomes which are employee's competencies, retention, motivation, clear job description. From these outcome stated above the Nigeria public services must be able to retain qualify personnel who are ready to build a career or server the organisation for a long time. This is because if competent hands leave the organisation then it will indicate setback there by reducing the effectiveness or performance of the organisation, this has also ways been the case of the Nigeria public servants as the leave the organisation after some time in sechrch for better life. This situation also affects the government as the would have spent money on the training and development of the employee. This is one reason why the public service has always experience skill shortage, as competent public servants leave in sechech of greener pastures in the west. A situation that could be seen as brain drain(ILO 1998) the Nigeria public services has lost lots of intellectuals to the west because the public services does not have the ability to retain qualify personnel thereby loosing the hands that would have positioned the country toward social, political and economic development

Furthermore we must understand that employees that are motivated always perform better than those that are not motivated, even as it is know that organisations effectiveness to a large extent depends on the employee. Also employees who understand their job role perform better than those who do not. When employees are motivated it will make the organisations becomes effective and efficient as they perform their duties very well (Becker and Gerhart 1996). At this point it will be necessary to look at how some important traditional human resource management practice are used in the Nigeria public services such as recruitment and selection, training and development, performance management etc as well as their significance in ensuring public services effectiveness .

Over the years the public service has carried out various reforms aimed at positioning it for social political and economic development (Kapur et al., 1991). But these reforms some times are more economic in nature and it has not paid off as it hardly addresses human resources issues. It is important for these reforms to concentrate more on human resource issues rather than economic matters if public services must be effective. For instance the public services must get it recruitment and selection process right if the it hopes to achieve organisations effectiveness. The process has to be transparent, fair and proactive the process should be based on merit and not sentiment adopting a good selection techniques where cv's are screened test are given interviews are conducted using highly qualified HR personnel and assessment centre to get the best candidate with the right knowledge, skills that meets the requirements for the job. This is not the case in the public sector as recruitment exercise is used to provide for the welfare of family members, friends, etc. The Nigeria civil service does more of informal recruitment and selection than formal, which indicates that recruitment and selection into the public service is relationship based. By this I mean a situation where the job description, person specification do not count to getting the right candidate. I will say that this type of system is informal. In a formal recruitment and selection those in charge follow the drafting to the letter because the process hopes to achieve something at the end of the exercise.

Another issue that could be used to look at this situation is the western system of recruitment and selection. in the west recruitment and selection of the right candidate is based on instrumentalism[Jackson 2002]organizations are interested in what the person can contribute to it as opposed to what the organization can contribute to the person For instance the west place emphasis on performance to know if the person can deliver apart from this they want to know what are the strengths of this person, and how will it impact on the growth and development of the organization (Harel &Tzafrir 2001) also they would want to know how this person can fit into the corporate goals and objective of the firm. This is the value which multinationals' of different western society brings to bear in the Nigeria work environment. Organizations in the west seeks to achieve its goals and objectives hence they require the skill and services of potential employees. The public service in Nigeria is not concern about achieving the goals and objective of the government. Going by the fact that organizations are judged by their performance (Telemichal & Soders 2006) this would have strived the public service to do their business very well. The Nigeria civil services which comprise of the three levels of government as well as various institutions' do not follow HR recruitment and selection policies in filling vacancies, the challenges in the public services is that these vacancies' are filled by friends, family, relatives, ethnic groups or like they say in Nigeria who you know. This situation has created a work environment that cannot achieve the goals and objectives of the government that is why the highest level of absenteeism, lateness to work, is in the civil service. Also employees are demotivated in the light that promotion and reward depends on who you know in the organization and not on performance so employees work hard to get relationship with management personnel or those outside the organization close to them [those in power]. In the west vacancies are filled by tested qualified candidates 'who would have gone through the selection processes. The west ensures that there is transparency of the process as well as equity and fairness; I would want to believe that the process is trusted ensuring best practice. Other scholars think order wise about the impact of a good recruitment and selection process as they want to look at it from a different point of view. For example (Briggs 2007) ) looked at the issue from the area of increasing pressure of employment, the era of military in pact, lack of independence of the civil service and delegation of human resource function to individuals who do not have an understanding of the process. Briggs also believes that because of these problems the use of job description and person specification where of no importance to getting the right candidate for the job but then he made some recommendations, which includes formulations of laws that will protect the private sector employment that is ensuring job security and also advice that informal use of recruitment be de-emphasized and pushed for recruitment from professional and educational institutions. Others are increasing the number of civil commissioners and opening of state and zonal outlets, increase of staff salaries.

The deficiencies of his study would be in areas like seeing HR as administrative in nature because it has to do with the running of government agencies as well as not developing a framework for best practice HR which would have ensured standardization of the process in the public service.

However the significance of this work will be to look at the questions which includes what are the problems, what are the causes, to what extent do the civil service in Nigeria follow the HR process to ensure that the right candidates are taken on the job. Also the purpose of my project is to develop a framework that would help the Nigeria civil service to be proactive and objective as HR planning is not taken into consideration before recruitment and selections are carried out which makes the civil services to be very reactive not taking the objectivity of the process into consideration, that is every recruitment and selection process should aim at achieving a planned objective. A look at another human resource practices that aid public sector effectiveness. Various scholars see both the challenges and implementation of traditional human resource practices from different angels (Pawan and Yaw 2001) argues that the problem of human resource management practice identified with the public services is more with the small and medium size organisation. For instance he believes that small and medium size organisations rely on their families, and friends or people close to them to be employed as staff for their business indicating that they do not follow any formal recruitment or selection process to fill vacancies. He cited that they do not rely on traditional human resource management practices to run an organisation that is effective. He based his argument on the fact most human resource practices are time consuming and cost intensive for example the cost of advertising for recruitment he also argues that the decay in the educational sector has not helped either. Hence big organisations that are not governmental like the multinationals adopt the western method of recruitment and selection which is the scientific and psychometric.

Nevertheless, it is of important to know if there are difference in the way human resources management practices are carried out in the public and private sector. This is because it is believed that some practices are better than other in the two sectors. Indicating that certain human resources practices are better up held in the public sector than the private and via visa. It is of importance to note that the public sector believes in those human resource practices that have to do with employee's grievance procedures as well as selection process this is as a result of representation or unionism, but the private sector is performance oriented as the objective is to achieve growth. Scholars are beginning to argue that the public sector is looking at adopting private sector practices as this will help in achieving performance (Gedaliahu and Shay 2001). It will interest us to know that the public and private sectors are distinct in their own way as, that is to say some human resource practices in the public sector may be worth adopting and some human resource practice in the private sector may be worth adopting as well. For instance the private sector ensure employees commitment to work there by discouraging absenteeism but this is not the case in the public sector as there is high level of absenteeism which could be seen as one of the reason for underperformance in the public sector(Steiner 1989). Also in terms of reward and pay the private sector is better as there is a base for high pay which is performance a situation that brings about motivation. The public sector in most countries like in Nigeria is known to be one whose employees go home with little like the Nigeria labour congress will say "our take home pay, cannot take us home" indicating that they are low income earners(Newman 1990) .in the area of management practice the private sector could still be seen as a role model because it has little political influence on like the public sector where management activities are always influences by political appointees and the decision making process can be at any time because of so much governmental interference(Clark et al 1994) . Unionism is a strong force in the Nigeria public sector. The public sector has several unions such as the Nigeria labour congress, the national association of teachers, the national association of public university and many more. This indicates a high level representation which the private sector is adopting gradually. Also policy implementation is another thing to compare; this is because the private sector is more proactive than the public sector in Nigeria there by implementing programmes that have been set to achieve organisations effectiveness. Although this may not be the case in other countries especially those in the west like the United Kingdom (Vandenheuvel 1994). Every organisation is always faced with the challenges of getting the right people for the job; it may be difficult to say what sector does recruitment better if it's the private or the public. However this may vary from country to country especially with countries in the west. But the Nigeria public sector is different as it hardly follow a standardize process for recruiting and selecting the right candidates for a job. A situation where recruitment process is not followed to the letter (Briggs 2007). The private sector is good at ensuring that the process that would help in getting the right candidate is followed to the letter which has helps the private sector to be performance oriented. Scholars have argued that there can be a theoretical base for comparison, one that should guide human resource practitioners and to be used as instrument for comparing any sector of business or organisations.( (Huselid, 1995). According to (Schmitt 1999) all human resources practices can be compared under five heading which are acquisition, development, motivation, employee's involvement and probity. Let's look at them one after the other. Acquisition is all human resource practices that can attract, recruit and select the right candidates for the job. That is the candidate that fits the job descriptions as well as can contribute to the growth of the organisation (Macduffie, 1995). Interestingly the private sector in Nigeria does this well.( 2) development , this has to do with how the organisation improve the skill and knowledge of the employee in other to achieve competitive advantage , this can be through training ,on the job or off the job. See (Barney 1999) the resource based theory. Also the private sector is better in this case. (3) Motivation, there are a number of factors that aid motivation from a good working condition, compensation, training, etc. The public sector is not well motivated and that is another reason for under performance in the Nigeria public services (Huselid, 1995). (4) Employee involvement is one factor that brings about loyalty and commitment to work. It also involve decision making that is how decisions are taken in the. The public sector has in most case a centralize decision making process there by not allowing those at the bottom to participate in the process unlike the private sector where the decisions are decentralise. (5) According to (Arthur, 1992) probity is another base for comparing the private and public sector. It has to do with how employees channel their grievances and the time it takes to get response. Public and private sector do have this in place but it may be informal in the public sector but at the same time it depends on the organisation or institutions. However, there are arguments that there are no much difference between the public and private sector but that the private sector is posing danger to the public sector as it has lost its core values, beliefs , character and language in attempt to adopt private practices that will enhance performance or organisation effectiveness. (Gray and Jenkins 1995). Also it is believed that the public and private sector practice either hard or soft human resource management. The hard human resources management which is rooted on utilitarian instrumentalism is believed to be widely practice by the private sector ((Legge 1995). A situation where management exercise strict control over the activities of both the employees and the entire organisation. Nevertheless it will be worth it to look at what the public sector is in the west to be able to make reasonable conclusion on facts. In the west it is known that the welfare of the employees is of paramount interest as employee's welfare, health and safety, rewards and compensation amongst other human resources practices. This could be seen as the reason why the public sector in the west is effective. For instance the there is a standardize employment procedure that cuts across various institutions and agencies of government. Indicating that employees in the public sector undertake the same job role as well as maintain the same working condition undermining job places. This has obviously paved way for job security, high retention level etc.also when it come to the issue of pay there is a standard process that divides public services employees into professional staff which includes those in the white collar jobs like in the private sector. While those on the other divide are the casuals who may be seen as support staff. The pay process ensures that every employee irrespective of location belongs to a structure and is paid based on the structure. (Farnham and Horton 1996). Furthermore the public service in the west is known for its strong presences of unionism which encourages employee's participation in making decisions on issues that affects the employees such as pay increase and improved working conditions ((Daniel and Millward 1983). Today the public service is seen as leading traditional human resources practices as the private sector is beginning to adopt these practices in the public sector. For instance the equal opportunity act is much up held in the public sector (Stredwick 2008). This could be seen in the recruitment and selection process and the way grievances are dealt with in the organisation. Also the public sector holds employees development to heart, hence the need for regular training using on the job and off the job training to improve the individuals skills as well as increase organisation performance or effectiveness. Nevertheless , there are indications that some policies of government affects the operation of certain human resources management practices, however the private sector have adopted some practices from the public sector and vice vase. However the most significant differences in traditional human resources management in the west is in the following areas. (1) public sector or services in the west is more employee oriented than the private sector , this may be seen in the way and manner decisions are taken as there is full consultation of the employees to take their views on issues as it affects them. (2) high level representation in teams of unions, the public sector in the west values its employees as such unionism is very effective a situation where employees have their interest represented at all levels in the organisation even at the management level. (3) Equal opportunity is seen as one of the strongest point of traditional human resources management in the public sector with an equal opportunity act that clearly states how each section of the community is taken into considerations as well as individuals. For instance in the UK the equal opportunity act ensures that people and employees are not discriminated on the bases of sex (act 1975) race relation (1976) Disability (1995) Equal pay (1970) (Stredwick 2000). The equal opportunity act provides that from recruitment to selection the in interests of every section of the community is considered and when people become employees of the organisation they will not be discriminated against on any these bases but if it happens then there is remedy for the employee . (4) employees welfare, this has been one of the reasons why the public sector can compete with the private sector because when the organisation is concern about the welfare of its employee it brings about commitment and loyalty thereby increasing performance and making the organisation effective. (5) Training, the public sector invests in their employee one of the reason for this is to be competitive as well as increase organisation performance. Training could also be seen as a form of motivation for the employees. (Storey's 1992)(George, Gleanville and Poole 1999). It will be of interest to know that these significant difference motioned above are the opposite of the Nigeria public sector apart from unionism


This work is aimed at finding out the extent to which traditional human resource management practices are used in public service Nigeria. The extent of implementation, the problems as well as how to improve this practices in other to run an effective public services. Over the years the Nigeria public service has explored various traditional human resource management practices like recruitment and selection training and development, performance management, compensations and rewards amongst other personnel practice.