NCAA’s commendation is coming after renowned journalist Angela Agoawike went public to laud agency staff for being professional and upright in dealing with the public.
Speaking at a special radio town hall meeting on “Integrity In The Public Service,” organized by the Progressive Impact Organization For Community Development, PRIMORG, on Friday in Abuja, Akajimeli disclosed that a bill is underway to ensure improvement in service delivery and punish chief executives officers and accounting officers of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) who compromise on their responsibilities.
She added that interventions by SERVICOM since its establishment are evident in the gradual improvements seen in service delivery in the public sector, noting that a lot of work is still needed.
Her words: “For now, we (SERVICOM) are working on getting a bill, and this bill has made tremendous progress.
“The new bill we are driving to have and enact as a law will drive the service delivery process in Nigeria. It contains some subtle punishment for CEOs, for chief accounting officers, for people who are supposed to serve citizens, who compromise on such responsibilities, that is provided going forward, and that is where we are working to be.”
Akajimeli, who praised PRIMORG for bringing the story of the display of honesty by NCAA’s staff to public knowledge, said the government-owned customer service agency adopted a name and fame approach to encourage public servants for now. Adding that plans are already on the ground to take services rendered by SERVICOM to the sub-national level.
“We use the raise and praise and the name and shame practice, for now. It means that when we carry out the evaluations of MDAs that stand out, and they do what the government has mandated them to do, we praise them. For those who fall short, we refer to service failure experiences at their service window.
“We are pushing to also take SERVICOM to the subnational. Two weeks back, I made a presentation to the National Economic Council and enumerated the importance of also taking SERVICOM and service delivery initiatives to the states and the local government,” Akajimeli said.
Narrating her ordeal at NCAA, communication specialist and owner of a radio station in Owerri, Imo state, Angela Agoawike, said she was surprised at the way and manner staff of NCAA attended to her as she sought clearance for radio mast, stressing that “from the gate man to the highest person was different from the norm and no one asked for tips of any sort.”
Agoawike labeled the absence of exemplary leadership and lack of consequence for corrupt acts in the public service as reasons integrity will be hard to replicate in all other MDAs.
“We have laws, but we don’t sanction when you contravene certain rules and regulations. “There is a sanction to it, maybe that’s the problem we have with the civil service, maybe there is a lot of cronyism there, maybe there’s a lot of I don’t care, it is not my property, it’s not my father’s company.”
Agoawike called on the government to eliminate human interface in delivering service by ensuring their official websites are functional.
Also speaking during the radio programme, NCAA’s Public Relations Manager, Samuel Adurogboye, said the professionalism and uprightness displayed by the agency staff have their roots in the NCAA recruitment culture. Noting that “40 percent of the staff of NCAA came from the private sector.
“NCAA is not a private organization, but the staffers are recruited from the government and the private sector.”
To encourage integrity, He revealed that the NCAA established a reward system to reward excellence and also to punish wrongdoing, as well as hold staff training regularly, “Our own capital project is staff training, human resource is our own strength,” Adurogboye stressed.
He dismissed fears of external interference or influence of any sort at NCAA, saying, “people should know that we stand for international organizations, the NCAA is a Nigeria organization, but then we are governed by international rules.
“By law, we are autonomous. We are self-financing; the only thing we do is that we must go to the National Assembly to defend our budget.”
Deputy Director, Reform Coordination, Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR), Kabiru Sarki Bello, said the bureau is constrained from delivering very sound reforms because of inadequate funds, manpower, and working tools.
His words: “One of the major problems we have at the Bureau is a shortage in funding, we do a lot of manpower development and capacity, we don’t have office space and working tools,” Bello lamented.
Earlier in the programme, the Country Director at Accountability Lab Nigeria, Friday Odeh, called on the media to focus on stories of integrity and accountability in the public sector. He expressed worry that integrity stories may not receive serious attention as political campaigns intensify.
Odeh said, “I think we need to keep having conversations on a positive narrative. One of the key things I’ve seen around it has its influence.
“I want to use this medium to encourage the media to start having these conversations. This is campaign season, and politicians will take charge everywhere. The media should encourage Nigerians to also pay attention to accountability and integrity,” Odeh advised.
PRIMORG’s Town Hall Meeting on integrity in public service is aimed at calling the public and government attention to specific issues of corruption in Nigeria.