|Vice President Mohammed Sambo was represented by Alhaji Bukar Aji, the Head of the Civil Service|
Thursday, 26 June 2014
ADDRESS BY VICE PRESIDENT, ARCH MOHAMMED SAMBO, AT THE INAUGURAL EDITION OF THE BPSR REFORM SEMINAR SERIES.
ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, ARCH MOHAMMED NAMADI SAMBO, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE INAUGURAL EDITION OF THE BPSR REFORM SEMINAR SERIES
I am pleased to have been asked to inaugurate this important initiative of a reform seminar series. The need to constantly brainstorm to find better ways of doing things for the benefit of our citizens lies at the very heart of the Government’s Transformation Agenda. This citizen-centered transformational blueprint encourages innovation, entrepreneurship, the quest for excellence, the strength of character to overcome adversity and an unwavering belief in the greatness of Nigeria. The BPSR Reform Seminar series is a powerful demonstration of these noble ideals and I congratulate the Director General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dr Joe Abah, and his team, for initiating it.
2. At every opportunity, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, has reiterated and underscored the importance of the public service to the development of Nigeria. He has had the uncommon courage and determination to take many difficult decisions for the benefit of the ordinary Nigerian. These include the unbundling of the power sector (which previous administrations had not been able to do), the reforms to the electoral and justice systems, the reform of the banking sector, and the elimination of fertilizer fraud that had been with us since colonial times.
3. Strenuous efforts are also been made to reduce the cost of governance and ensure that our public service organisations deliver better services to citizens. Just a few weeks ago, I inaugurated the Implementation Committee for the White Paper on the Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalization of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies. The implementation of that White Paper will significantly reduce the cost of governance, but, equally importantly, also reposition our parastatals and agencies for greater effectiveness. Government is also currently considering another White Paper on the Report of the Presidential Committee on the Review of Reform Processes in the Nigerian Public Service.
4. We have strengthened our capacity to coordinate reform efforts to support the delivery of the Transformation Agenda. This includes updating the National Strategy for Public Service Reforms, re-establishing the National Steering Committee on Public Service Reforms (headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation), refocusing SERVICOM, and revamping the Bureau of Public Service Reforms to fulfill its proper mandate. Engendering an environment of learning and seeking good practice is squarely within BPSR’s mandate and I am pleased that this event has generated interest from federal government officials, senior officials from various state governments and our international development partners.
5. Our public services have been through peaks and troughs. From being rated among the best in the Commonwealth at Independence in 1960, decades of military rule systematically weakened our public service. The service lost its professionalism, independence and focus. The return to democratic rule in 1999 started the process of repositioning the service but a number of the initiatives undertaken were rule-based reforms. Although these were necessary, they are not sufficient to satisfy the yearnings of Nigerians. Most of the reforms were focused on the internal workings of government, with insufficient focus on the welfare of citizens. Therefore, while the public was aware that there were ongoing reforms, they found it difficult to relate to those reforms since they often did not directly affect them.
6. The administration of Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has started to focus reform efforts on tangible improvements in the lives of citizens. That is why our reform efforts have focused on ensuring that farmers get their fertilizer and that our major roads are world class. Using our revamped rail system, we are able to move large numbers of people and large quantities of goods quickly, safely and cheaply. Our airports have been refurbished for the first time in decades and our automobile policy is providing our indigenous manufacturers with the enabling environment to thrive, create jobs and deliver vehicles to citizens at an affordable price. All of these visible reforms are completed with systemic reforms such as the cashless policy, the Treasury Single Account and the strengthening of our public procurement systems. Together, the reforms undertaken by the present administration represent perhaps the deepest set of reforms ever undertaken in this country. It focuses on the levers that will position us to attain our Vision 20:2020 and puts the ordinary Nigerian at the center of all reform efforts.
7. It is for all these reasons that the theme of this seminar: “New Directions for Public Service Reforms” is apt. I expect that the seminar will throw up new ideas that could help to guide our future reform efforts. I encourage participants to exchange ideas freely and to debate the issues robustly. At the end of the Seminar, I hope that we can take away from it tangible lessons and next steps that will improve our public services.
8. Ladies and Gentlemen, it therefore gives me great pleasure to declare the BPSR Reform Seminar Series open.
God Bless Nigeria.