Edo State came into being on 27 August 1991 when Bendel State was split into Edo and Delta States. It is one of the six states in the South-South geopolitical zone with three senatorial districts, namely, Edo South, Edo Central and Edo North. Even though it is termed as an oil producing state, Edo is also no doubt a civil service state.
Since the administration of Governor Godwin Obaseki in 2016, there has been a conscious and deliberate measure to ensure the civil service is holistically transformed alongside the massive transformation in the different sectors of the State’s economy, from infrastructural renewal to social welfare, economic revolution, among others.
The civil/public service is that instrumentality through which the people are able to interact with government. Through the civil service, government is able to render essential services and manage the affairs of the state. The public service also consists of political appointees and personnel of extra-ministerial agencies which have been established for the purpose of rendering specific services to the public. The civil service is core as civil servants are directly appointed by the Civil Service Commission into ministries. The Commission also exists to serve the public.
A collective term often used to describe this sector is the bureaucracy. The importance of this bureaucracy to the success of any administration cannot be over-emphasized, that is why Edo State Government has put every needed machinery in place to ensure that it is prioritized.
The mantra is “to build a Public Service where efficiency, productivity and effective service delivery are the hallmarks”.
In his inaugural speech in 2016, Governor Obaseki termed the Civil Service as the engine of government, noting that without a functioning engine, the government will not be able to function optimally. This brought about a drastic revolution in revamping the Civil Service in line with global best practices. The gains of these purposeful revolutionary transformation have helped the service to become efficient and up to standard to meet the demand of the 21st century.
The e-governance (digitization) which is the process of leveraging technology to enhance effective job delivery is one major step that the government has taken to reform the public service.
According to the Head of Service, Anthony Okungbowa Esq., “One key component of the reforms is the institution of the e-governance platform, an electronic systems that aims to eliminate the use of paper in the administrative process of government.”
This has been successfully achieved with the distribution of laptops to civil servants, creating of kiosk in various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) to ensure that workers who do not have laptops at the moment are able to use laptops, and also the introduction of the buy-to-own scheme whereby workers will pay a little fraction from their salaries with a higher percent being paid by government to facilitate the purchase of laptops for workers.
Worthy of mention is that different states like Ekiti and Bayelsa have been to Edo to understudy the e-governance model.
Merit-based employment into the Service has been adopted as only competent hands are now being employed into the service. Worthy of note is to mention that over 5,000 persons have been recruited either through the Civil Service Commission or employed into Boards and Parastatals via the Office of the Head of Service with only qualified persons coming in on merit. Also, first class graduates of Edo extraction from any university in Nigeria now get automatic employment as a result of Governor Obaseki’s resolve to bring in the best hands into the service.
Remodelling and renovation of the office buildings is another measure put in place to enhance workers’ productivity. By enhancing the work environment, workers’ capacity has been boosted for optimal service delivery. It should be noted that these offices are furnished with state-of-the-art facilities. Also government offices are now being connected to the Ossiomo power plant and this has further helped the good output of workers.
In Edo, workers and pensioners are not being owed salaries and pensions. They are paid as and when due. It is pertinent to note that Edo State is the highest paid civil service state in Nigeria. It is no longer news that public servants and pensioners get paid latest on the 26th of every month. Mr Governor has also graciously approved the payment of 13th month for civil/public servants, with the approval of all promotions up to date.
The Edo State Transformation and Enhancement Project (Edo STEP) which was launched in May 2019 is also a government initiative to drive transformation projects in the civil service into a model worthy of emulation in the country. It has helped in the performance management of workers and also helped through its different programmes in instilling and shaping behavioral conduct.
The establishment of the John Odigie Oyegun Public Service Service Academy (JOPSA), named after the first civilian Governor of Edo State, for training and up-skilling of workers is another milestone achievement. There is now workplace mobility for civil and public servants. It is called EDSG MEGA Shuttle. The shuttle buses run a triangular routine each workday from the Government House to the Secretariat and to JOOPSA. The whole essence is to ease the movement of any civil and public servant who will have to move during official hours in order to cushion the impact of the fuel subsidy removal.
From the foregoing, it is clear that the tremendous gains recorded in the service during the Obaseki administration are numerous, from the introduction of technology down to providing a conducive work environment and also providing the necessary equipment for workers to deliver on their assigned duties.
Other benefits include the Edo State Health Insurance Scheme, which has helped workers to access quality health care as they only have to pay 10 percent of the total cost of both medicines and treatment; review of duty tour allowances for all categories of employees, and the onboarding strategy of new hires to acquaint them with the rules, regulations and obligations as public servants, among other things.