BY HARRISON AKAMULE
“The sole test of a civil servant’s conduct should be his ability to perform the tasks which are entrusted to him. Anything else is entirely immaterial. Therefore, the fundamental virtues of a civil servant are punctuality, unquestionable courtesy, pleasant disposition, modesty and willingness to serve the public at all times. It must be said of him, the civil servant: he is so efficient and hard-working and yet so humble. These virtues are naturally expected of them to uphold in the performance of their duties.
The Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa , with this understanding and knowledge of the role of the civil service as an instrument for putting into effect the socio-economic programmes of the government as well as the machinery through which his government and the party in power can effectively implement his SMART Agenda, didn’t hesitate as he inaugurated Mr. Reginald Ebitimi Bayoko, as the Head of Delta State Civil Service on June 13, 2016 to the admiration of Deltans.
With his mindset for success, Governor Okowa didn’t expect anything less from the number one civil servant in the state as he admonished Bayoko to live up to expectation by causing positive transformation in the service in the performance of his duty with the highest integrity that would bring true satisfaction to the people.
Having set the ball rolling as governor, Bayoko, in his post -inauguration statement, said “we need an adjustment to our attitude; we have to adopt a new positive mindset, coupled with a shift in our thinking system. And this involves internalising the core values of civil service and with special focus on productivity, quality innovativeness, discipline so as to create a forward-looking flexible market -driven public service motivated to meet the challenges of rapid development. I am an optimist, who is full of hope about the future of the service, despite apprehension and skepticisms
“At this point, I will like to outline the measures I intend to explore under the direction of His Excellency, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, and in line with the goal of revamping the service. The areas I intend to tackle include offering some useful suggestions on the recruitment and appointment process, capacity-building, performance management, promotion, including conduct, integrity and discipline. I have the responsibility to dedicate myself to maintaining the political neutrality of our service, safeguarding our legitimate interest and ensuring that we have a clean, efficient, committed and professional service that gives full and loyal support to the government in its policy execution and provide quality services to the citizenry. I will dedicate all my energy towards uplifting the service and together, we should share in this collective resolve.”
Bayoko’s response depicts great leadership qualities, particularly with regard to accepting responsibility for what may come out of the office entrusted into his care because of his great positive antecedents over the years when he became a civil servant in the defunct Bendel state.
TWO YEARS AFTER; HOW IS CIVIL SERVICE UNDER BAYOKO?
On Friday, July 7, 2017
In order to retrain civil servants for the task ahead, a seven – weekend management training course was organized for the senior management staff in the Delta State Civil Service by the Office of the Head of Service in collaboration with the Administrative staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) at Staff Training Centre, Asaba, Delta State.
In his address at the event, Bayoko was appreciative of the office of the Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, for the unflinching support for the training in general and the approval as expressed by the immediate approval granted for the edition. He said participants were expected to learn some key leadership skills and techniques in line with global best practices, with particular emphasis on policy formation and implementation in the public service.
“It is, therefore, on this basis that it is mandatory for all senior management staff in the state civil service to not just undergo the programme but pass the written examination that follows before they can be promoted beyond salary grade level 14,” he said.
“As we look ahead, we, no doubt, need a strong public service leadership that will boldly lead the service to seize new opportunities to surmount challenges that crop up on a daily basis. On this occasion, therefore, let me just briefly provide a description of what may be required to develop superior leadership for which this course has been designed for you as a key chain in the process.”
Bayoko said that it was imperative that the civil service builds a diverse leadership corps with varied skills to meet evolving challenges. The civil service needs to forge deeper and more extensive partnership with all stakeholders. The civil servants need to envision members’ future together to build a better civil service and indeed the society. In all these areas, you as participants of the programme, have a key role to play. He told them that they represent key pillars of the leadership corps, providing pipelines by virtue of their position and participation in the programme.
“The drive towards “prosperity for all Deltans “which is the overreaching goal of the present administration as anchored by the SMART Agenda, places a huge responsibility on your shoulders as senior management staff of the state civil service, and you cannot afford to fail,” Bayoko said.
Bayoko’s remarks at the dialogue with the Head of Service held on Thursday, October 26, 2017 at the Unity Hall, Government House, Asaba, with the theme, Dwindling Oil Revenue: Strategic Option For Increased Internally Generated Revenue in Delta State, was quite inspiring. He said improving the state’s economic performance depended in part on harnessing the vast resources and facilities available in the state, while the civil service can turn their minds to proffer useful suggestions on harnessing other resources available in the state outside crude oil and natural gas such as the several solid minerals, agriculture and forest resources, aquatic resources and the huge infrastructural potentials of the ports and other industrial complexes.
According to him, given the reality of recession, there was the need for a compelling vision of the future which shifts focus to a post-recession view of government and engages, as much as it challenges them, the public sector workforce, to do better with less.
His words: “They have to look at a future where they meet rising citizen expectations and deliver outcomes by doing things differently in a positive way. In that direction, the citizens expect from them some form of personalized customer service as well as a willingness to go the extra mile. That can be achieved in the face of constrained funding if they refocus their minds and look in the right direction.
“The recession reawakens us to the urgent reality for reorientation in our attitude and consciousness as civil/public servants towards selflessness and development. It will not be far-fetched to assert that the well-being of the citizenry is intertwined with the ability of the system to deliver. It is therefore our desire to galvanize the workforce in the state to stand behind the present administration. I urged you all to brace up to the challenge.”
Bayoko’s various presentations at different fora, have always brought to fore the general key points of the civil service, which include obedience to constituted authority, dedication to duty, adherence to rules and regulations, willingness to learn and be mentored, punctuality and regularity at duty post (which today has given birth to clock in and clock out scheme designed to checkmate staff lateness and absenteeism in workplace as well as reveal ghost workers), team spirit, confidentiality, eschew in financial embarrassment, discipline and reliability, flexibility, self-motivation and time and attendance. These are the components that served as oaths of office for every civil/public servant.
The multi-million naira question is; Has Bayoko, in his two years in office as HOS, made positive impact to the benefit of the government and Delta state citizens? The answer, in all honesty, is a resounding yes. The evidence! They are as many as there are credible proofs of a good performance by the HOS.
Just one example is the strategy of clock-in- clock-out now in place. Credible evidence indicates that the mechanism of Clock- in and Clock-out, as has been revealed, has led to the discovery of a sizeable number of ghost workers and has also saved the state N2billion wage bill monthly. The construction and completion of HOS building and the on-going construction of the new secretariat complex along Maryam Babangida road is another of his major achievements.
Besides, the issues of being punctual, regular at duty post, training of workers, time and attendance have improved greatly. However, like all other sectors, there is room for improvement to consolidate the already impressive performance of Bayoko. For example, something should be done in the area of school runs and turning offices to business centres. For the business centres, shops should be built within the secretariat premises so that civil servants can take permission to walk up to those shops to get what they want and return to their duty posts within minutes. And also, let a break hour strategy be introduced to reduce roaming around during working hours.
Bayoko dedicated all achievements to the Delta State Governor, His Excellency, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, according to him, the glory goes to him because, the governor provided the enabling platform for him to achieve that much within two years. He said “I am eternally grateful to the governor for the encouragement and confidence reposed on him.”