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Misconduct in the civil service

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MISCONDUCT in the civil service is simply a specific act of wrong doing in the civil service which can be verified and proven. Civil service has quite a number of rules and regulations guiding its operations, and any of these rules and regulations including the values of the service anyone violates, that violation becomes an “Act of misconduct”, and it is punishable by the various terms of punishment dictated by the severity of the offence committed.

Talking about the ethics of the service, we talk of the dos and don’ts of the service- Punctuality, neglects, productivity, truthfulness, honesty, hardwork, lateness to work and many others In other words, these constitute an “Act of Indiscipline” in the service. Those acts of indiscipline tend to break the “Rules and Regulations” of the service and affect the smooth conduct of Government Business.

When you talk about misconduct generally, there are individual Acts of Misconduct where an officer commits an offence and the person is subjected to the procedures for disciplinary action meant to correct that act of misconduct. You correct the officer that committed it and at the same time, send the warning signal to the officers surrounding that culprit, so that they don’t emulate the bad conduct of the officer, that is why the service frowns seriously at any Act of Misconduct because they have a chain reaction.

It has the tendency of affecting the behavior of police working round as well as lowering the standard of work done. Mr. Anthony Ezenwaka, Permanent secretary, Ministry of Diaspora, Culture and Tourism vocally made this remark that based on individual acts, that the most disturbing trend now is “Institutional Indiscipline”. You may not find these values in the real book of service but when you look at certain actions of officers in the service; because the civil service is the oldest public institutions in existence. It is as old as you are, even older than this Nation because it came through the colonial administration who brought us the civil service colony.

Emphasis is to protect the institution in order for the institution to continue to render services to the societies from where that institution becomes incapacitated by various wrong doings committed by the principal officers.Those are the top, presiding over the affairs of the various ministries, Departments and Agencies when they commit Acts of indiscipline or misconduct, It becomes institutional misconduct because they represent the people at the establishment.

Head of service is the head of the entire civil and public services of Anambra State. When the head of service gives an order or gives a directive or grants an approval to an issue and one ministry or the other refuses to carry it out, it is an institutional Indicipline because a particular task of the entire institution of the public service is challenging the directive of the Head of Service, who is the number one civil servant.

The office of the Head of Service where it fails to be accorded the respect and dignity it deserves, that establishment that refuses to accord the respect and dignity commits an Act of Indiscipline which sends wrong signal to the entire civil service. It is the responsibility of the office of the Head of service to take appropriate actions to correct those things in order to maintain oneness and uniformity of the civil service.

Let me give you another example, Civil Service Commission ensures that there is uniformity and rules and regulations guiding the service and there is uniformity in its actions, in terms of recruitment in terms of promotions, in terms of transfers, the Rules are there. They maintain uniform standard in their application because if you go around the country you will discover that the civil service is one. The uniformity is national, but where a particular state in civil service decides not to do the uniformed-part, the entire civil service becomes a problem, it becomes an Act of Misconduct, it becomes an Act of Indiscipline because that particular action has a tendency of misleading a number of people taking them away from the uniform part which other states are doing.

One particular example is the issue of Lateral Transfer in the civil service. The present Anambra State service commission recently changed that issue of Lateral Transfer from what it is and from what we understand it to be and from what we obtain through out the 36 states of the federation and FCT Abuja.

The Anambra State Civil Service decided to deviate from that uniform guide and develop its own guide-line which is not in accordance with the uniform guide-line nationally and in the process, it created problems for many civil servants who today, as a result of being granted lateral transfer find it difficult and do not actually carry along their service records to the old guidance into the new one. The interpretation they gave became so simplistic and childish that I wonder whether the people actually past through the system. Most unfortunately a good number of them enjoyed Lateral Transfer by Civil Service.

Today in Anambra State’s Civil Service,there is almost nothing like lateral transfer because the meaning and impart of it have been taken away and when you take anything away from Lateral Transfer, it becomes ‘Unlateral”. That is what we are practicing today, Today many people are highly frustrated. Many people are not where they supposed to be and that is a clear example of the effect of an institutional indiscipline. Institutional Indiscipline comes where the top civil servants are looking at themselves rather than the service. They make themselves larger than the system and create problem.

Major cause of misconduct is the politicization of the Civil service, bringing politics into the civil service. Public institutions in the country have their own unique features and these unique features make them non-partisan. It is wrong appointing civil servants or giving them political appointment while they are still in service.

It is wrong not because it is wrong in itself but because the constitution allows the civil servants to take up the political appointment but we must follow a process.. The procedure requires you to seek the approval of the Head Service to be allowed to take such appointment so that at the end you return to the service. When you take up a decision in such a way that every civil servant now strives to secure one political appointment or the other, It has a negative and destructive impact on the service

which include:
When you offer a civil servant such an appointment the salary shocks up far above what he earns as a civil servant. The standard of living of the officer improves far above his contemporaries ,both superiors and subordinates.
Again, he makes control difficult. There is a wide gap between the few at the top and many below, the middle is lacking, Levels12,13,14,15 and 16 are very few. But if you come below down the line, you will see a number of high concentration of workers and it is among these down line officers that we have people, a good number of them in Level 8, 7, 6 moving data procedures and offer them for the growth.

Now, how do you think that this service can continue where those at the base have been exposed to political environment? How will they survive? How will the services sustain itself? It is a very serious problem. People who just came in to the service are now offered political appointments. They have not learnt anything in the service and for them to stay there for a good number of years at least four years is a big minus for the civil service.

Before this time, service has a way of regulating itself. If you want to favour somebody, there are ways of doing that in the side of political appointment and those ways are not followed. If you look at the impart of monetization in the society, is now brought into the civil service because if you give somebody an appointment today, the person looks at the money not the work and when you tell him to come back to civil service, he or she would see it as a peanut and off he goes. So the service is not meant for everyone that just needs the work. It is meant for people who are die hard patriot, who are committed to render selfless services to the society.

All that is required is to improve conditions of service delivery so that the system can attract brains, well educated people, professionals into the service. Besides, there is a provision which is “ An Act of Misconduct, when civil servants on their own, employ political influence in order to secure unmerited favours, it is an act of misconduct and it is punishable by dismissal to the service without formality. That is exactly what is happening. People employ all sorts of political influence, connections here and there, in order to obtain unmerited favour..

The permanent secretary said that from the beginning, Act of Misconduct are numerous in the service and as many as they are, are as many the punishment they attract. When you come to work late, that lateness is an Act of Misconduct and can be denied annual increment, promotion can be denied and so many other things but what it will not attract is dismissal because it is not a capital service offence but when you absent yourself without permission from service, this is a capital offence. When you refuse to accept posting, it is a very serious offence. If you engage in political activities while in service, it is a serious offence and so many others. And once you commit any of these Act of Indiscipline, the punishment is instant dismissal without formality.

He elaborated that the individual differences come in. It is easy to state rules and regulations that guide human conduct. It equally takes a courageous man to punish any infringement of these rules adequately, not every officer has the nerves or the courage and the capacity to punish the offenders.

Look at the issue of burials and condolences you discover that we work Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Friday we go for burials and condolences. It becomes an unofficial activity. It is unofficial yet that we seek passive official stand authority so when someone goes for burials on a Thursday without permission and a good officer stands up to query him or her others will say leave him but you who is applying the punishment is not being wicked. You are not against that person but against the action that he took which has negative consequences for the good of the services, so you have to correct it. We need a lot of courage in order to correct these infringement to move the service forward.

Civil Service is a very big institution, a very complex institution that requires quality men and women, expensive men and women to render efficient and effective services to the society. Civil Service is an authority in itself, different to some extent from the political authority that exist in any state and the civil authority exist to service- the political authority but may have circumstances in deviating from the performances of the political authority.

The Civil Servants are trained to display serious Act of Patriotism in their service of the state.
Our Loyalty lies to God, to the State, to the Service and to the Government that is currently in service.
These three levels of loyalty enable us to serve any government in power and when you try to force political class in to the three, it becomes a minority dictating to the majority, it does not work and that increase problems and that is why the political class is always suspicious of the civil authority and civil servants, and they try to use their bondage political positions and authority to impose what they usually term, reforming the services in order to bring the service to the level they want.

What are they reforming? Reforming without Agenda, reforming without focus, reforming without bogos statement that are neither here nor there, reforming what they understand or what they did not understand and this explains why in a Ministry, for instance there is always suspicious relationship between the commissioner and the permanent secretary down to line. This is because they are always thinking that the civil servants are perpetually against them. Any where you see them, they are talking about evil of them it is not true. We are united by course and that course and that cost is to work in other to move this state forward.

They are our political helpers, we must collaborate, we must understand each other in order to implement/achieve one goal. We have only one goal, every Ministry has its own goals/objectives.

So for us to achieve it we must work together and for us to move the state forward we must work together. Where there are conflicts and crises, problem arises. Misunity comes in and productivity, Instability, Dictation are the result. Government achieves much because they are committed to hardworking and experienced civil servants who are able and willing to render services selflessly to any Government in power. What do we ask? We ask to be provided with the basic tools of service in order to serve well, we ask to be made happy in the course of our duty.

Civil servants are trained to produce billionaires and millionaires without themselves being millionaires. They survive because they have the deep sense of patriotism and are guided by the principle of moderation in life they simply, moderate living, just give them the little and keep them and they will be able to discharge their responsibilities to their families and the wider society.

In the absence of this political office holder, the civil service will take over and maintain uninterrupted service delivery in the state. So you must equip yourself to be a civil servant You have to be humble for you to be a civil servant. And again we must be ready to render selfless services to the state.

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