Inefficiency in the Civil Service: Cause and Strategies for Eradication

Inefficiency in the Civil Service: Cause and Strategies for Eradication (A Case Study Of The Ministry Of Agriculture, Ebonyi State Civil Service)

Civil Service – The civil services according to Adebeyo is not a creation of modern times. It has its roots and dates back to the times of ancient civilization. With the emergence of modern states and the development of parliamentary system of Government, the civil service evolved as the bed-rock of the executive arm of Government in Ebonyi state like every other state, the main task of the civil service is the implementation and execution of the policies decided on by the legislature or those appointed by the legislature to carry on the executive work of Government. In accomplishing this task, the civil service has found itself involved in the formulation of policy and advising generally on policy matters.

The work of administration is so enormous that it could not just be carried out by a few ministers or commissioners. The actual day-to-day work of government was carried out by the officials referred to as civil servants. These were government department employees organized into various government department or ministers, each department dealing with a particular branch of government business.

Features or Characteristics of the Civil Service

In the face of changes, there are certain characteristics or features which make the civil service to stand out. They are as follows: permanence, impartibility, neutrality and expertise.


The civil is a permanent appointment and not a temporary one. Irrespective of the change that occurs in the government, a civil servant once appointed remains in his job. The civil servant is subject to promotion, gratuity and pension after his retirement, to show the permanent nature of his appointment.


As a non-political offer, a civil servant is expected to be impartial in the performance of his duties. This implies that the civil servant is expected not to be influenced party feelings in carrying out his duties. The political neutrality of the civil service implies that the civil servant put his politics in his pocket. In order to ensure a sense of impracticality on the civil service, civil servants are barred from taking part in partisan politics.


The civil servants unlike ministers and commissioners are experts in terms of administration. The commissioners or ministers as the head are in most cases mere political figure heads and may not have been trained in the art of administration or the technical qualification for their posts, unlike career civil servants who have acquired experience on his job training for many years.

The Inefficient Civil Service System

Inefficiency signifies a system failing to make best use of the available time and resources so as to produce good results quickly.

Efficiency on the other hand is concerned with ability to work well without wasting time and resources. It is concerned with measuring the ability of inputs to produce output, efforts and results, expenditure and income, cost and the resulting pleasure. As relating to civil service, efficiency is a bias against waste, unnecessary bureaucracies and corruption.

To the question of inefficiency in the civil service, there is no doubt that it is so, but the lingering question is why it has continued unabashed over the years.

The problem which arises in thinking about efficiency in the public service is that it is far more complicated to value and determine than in commercial organizations where the criterion of efficiency is largely guided by the profit objective. The attitude of work in Nigeria engendered by the concept of “white man’s work” go so bad that many public servants joined the service, not to serve but to use their strategic position to serve themselves at the expense of their organizations. The typical Ni9geria worker is lazy, indolent or not wanting to work. He avoids work and responsibility but loves money, wealth and all the good things of life. The Nigerian worker is money and material oriented, who is pleasure seeking and egocentric wants to get rich quickly. He loves social status and wants to be seen and recognized and treated with respect as the man at the head, in-charge of affairs, the ‘oga’. Inefficiency is the life in the civil service and indeed in many of our organizations. There is abundant evidence of ineffective management in our schools and universities, in the civil services, in the public corporations and state owned companies, in the judiciary and in the Army.

According to Prof. Ejiofor, asking a question on inefficiency, the management oriented insider will say “fairly in the circumstance, ‘badly’ the outsider will say, “very badly”, the critic will say, ‘terrible, really terrible’, from someone ho has recently suffered in the hands of one of our inefficient institutions.

The Historical Background Of The Ministry Of Agriculture used for this study came into being on the 11th August, 1991 following the pronouncement by the military president of the federal Republic of Nigeria, General I.B. Babngida. With the creation of the state all the Ministries which existed in the former Ebonyi state automatically took off in the new Ebonyi state including the ministry of Agriculture.

It is pertinent to mention that the history of Agriculture in Nigeria dates back to the colonial history of the Nigeria. The history of Agriculture in Nigeria really dates back to 1893 when a Botanic Research center was established at Olokomeji in Abeokuta area of western state (present Ogun State) to conduct research into different plants and herbs.

In 1905, the British cotton growers Association acquired four acres of land at more plantation, ibadan to producer more cotton for industries. The scheme was a failure but more plantation was transformed into agriculture research center for all the southern provinces of Nigeria. In 1921 a unified department of agriculture was organized for the whole country.

At Nigeria independence in 1960, a ministry of Agriculture was established. The East central state came into being during the Nigeria civil war in 1970, a ministry of Agriculture was one of the ministries created. It was later split into ministries of Agriculture and that of food production only to be merged later. In 1974, the East central state was split into Ebonyi and Imo states and the ministry of Agriculture was again created in the old Anambra state.

Agriculture at the pre-colonial era was concerned with food gathering, shifting, cultivation and growth of those crops and livestock required by men for daily feeding and his survival. During the colonial era, attention was focused on production of cash crops, particularly, those crops that supplied raw materials required by the industries of the colonial masters overseas like cotton, cocoa, rubber, palm oil and palm kernel. At independence in 1960, we inherited the colonial system of agricultural development with its shortcomings and several inadequacies. But post independence, Nigerians witnessed several policies and strategies aimed at developing our agriculture to meet the challenges of middle and late 20th century.

The main objectives of modern agricultural development is modernization of peasant production which is dominated Nigeria agriculture. The peasant agriculture is mainly characterized by the application of low levels of technology to the methods of production and the small-scale nature of most of the farm holdings. Helleiner (1966). There has been deliberated attempt to transform this type of agriculture and increase its productivity. The main approaches to this transformation include mechanization to make possible larger scale operations, the cultivation of introduced and sometimes improved crops, the use of paid labour recruited outside family sources, modification of system of land allocation for farming activities, the sue of modern mechanical methods for the processing of agriculture products and the orientation of production towards the world market. These efforts have been made in the belief transformation in developing countries (Lewis 1970).

 Structure of Ministry of Agriculture

The ministry of Agriculture has the following operational department namely:-

(i)                 department of Agriculture

(ii)               veterinary services department

(iii)             produce department

(iv)             forestry department

(v)               Engineering department

(vi)             Animal production department

And three mandatory departments-

(a)       personnel department

(b)      finance and supplies department

(c)       Planning, Research and statistics department.

The ministry is headed by a commissioner who is a political appointee. Next in command is the permanent secretary who is a career civil servant and an accounting officer. The operations departments are headed each by a Director. Altogether the ministry has staff strength of 1023 performing specific duties. The ministry, technical as it is, has two senatorial zones which control staff in twenty-one local government areas of Ebonyi state while the headquarter at Awka controls all senatorial zones and headquarter staff.


              There is no doubt that in any dispensation in Nigeria, be it military or civilian, the civil service is looked upon to provide certain fundamental services for smooth governance of the country.

It will be worthy to note that the executive arm of the government whose responsibility it is to implement all the governmental programmes rely on the civil service performing this all important function. The civil service has been variously attacked by renowned bureaucrats, seasoned administration and academicians for its inactivity.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that much is expected of this very organ of government, the lackadaisical attitude with which the civil service performs has generated a lot of heat for both past and successive administrations.

Inefficiency has almost become a house hold word used to describe the civil service, not the Ebonyi state in particular but the nation as a whole.

Several Review commission have been set up dating back to pre-independence days simply to find solutions to the negative attitude of the civil servants.

Also successive regimes have made their assumptions and have propounded or formulated strategies towards tackling the bad attitude to work of Nigerians. For example the then Head of state General Yakubu Gowon though that with more pay he could improve on the moral and productivity of the worker, hence the Udoji Awards in 1974. General Murtala Mohammed felt that by using the “National purge” which was succinctly described as the ‘Black Death of 1975’ by former head of ser vice in Benue state Mr. E.A. Akiga. Shagari formulate the idea of ministry of National guidance – the National Ethical Revolution – to chart a new code of ethnics as a panacea to halt the dwelling standard of behaviour. The Buhari/Idagbon regime introduced the war Against Indiscipline (WAI), while Babangida introduced Mass Mobilization for social Justice, self Reliance and Economic Reconstruction.

In Abacha’s time much emphasis was laid on ghost workers and there was ban on the unions hence workers could not pose a united front. The Abubakar regime saw to the increase in the salary of the civil servants.

The present Obasanjo’s regime introduced Monetization of fringe benefits in the public service of the federation. The committee of fringe benefits in the public service of the federation was set up by Mr. President on November 11, 2002, under the chairmanship of the secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief J. Ekatte, CFR, mini. The establishment of the committee became necessary because over the years, the cost of governance has continued to escalate arising mostly, from the burden of providing basic amenities to public servants by the Government. These amenities include, residential accommodation, transport facilities, medical services and utilities such as electricity, water and telephone. The merits of monetization include efficiency in resources allocation, equity in the provision of amenities and encouragement of public servants to own personal houses. It also enable public servants to plan for a more comfortable post-service life. Furthermore, it minimizes waste, and abuse of public facilities.

In more specific terms, monetization of fertilities, such as housing, furniture and vehicles will reduce capital cost, maintenance and running cost. It is also hoped that rent will come down, as public servants who make up over 80% of the tenants, especially in Abuja, will have little money to offer to landlords. It will also promote the observance of maintenance culture and discipline in the use of public utilities since the individuals will now have to pay for such services, which hitherto were paid for by government.

In housing the regime also introduced the policy of “owner-occupier” basis i.e., where civil servants who live in Government Quarters are asked to pay and own these houses at very low prices.

While the following issues are not exhaustive, nevertheless they are eloquent testimonies of the bad state of civil service.

On this background, the researcher hopes survive into the causes and effects of inefficiency inn the civil service with a view to offering sound strategies for eradication so as to wake the service from deep slumber.


As regards the problems being addressed by this study, the following research questions are formulated:-

(1)      Does increase in works’ salary impact on workers’ performance.

(2)      Does negative conceptualization of work contribute to inefficiency?.

Does lack of provision of basic infrastructure have impact on performance?


The objective of the research work is as follows:

(a)       To ascertain the impact of workers’ salary on performance.

(b)      To identify the contribution of negative conceptualization of work leading to inefficiency.

(c)       To ascertain the impact of basic infrastructure on performance.


The significances of his study cannot be taken with over sight. Past and present governments have described the whispered inefficiency leading to low productivity in the civil service and a burning desire to put a final step to the ugly tend.

Government has charged all sectors of the economy to be productive. This has led to imposition of economic measures christened structural Adjustment programme (SAP) in babaginda era to restructure and revitalize the economy. During that period the civil service received a shock which was the removal of permanence on the permanent secretary who was then addressed as Director-General’ under Decre No. 43 of 1988). But restored to its natural name and position within the present civilian Govt of Obasanjo.

The country is now undergoing a traditional change from Civilian to civilian administration, hence the need of the topic under survey cannot be over-emphasized. This is because the government relies heavily on the civil service in the implementation of its programmes. There is no doubt that a bad civil service can cause a particular regime to be discredited, hence the need to remove all clogs that stare in the way of an effective and result-oriented civil service. It is hoped far reading recommendation will be high-lighted which if implemented will serve as a spring board for proper take-off future administrations.



Ebonyi state civil service is the scope of this study but the state ministry of Agriculture was specifically used as a case study.


             The ministry of Agriculture staff co-operated. However, there were certain limiting factors which became obvious in the process of the research.

Time was a very strong factor. Time was to be used to print, distribute and collect back questionnaire. Time was also used for interviewing process and consultation of certain publish data. Time was also used to analyze and prepare the final draft of the project work.

Every economic undertaking must some-how be constrained by finance. However, the researcher tried her best to see that financial constraints did not adversely affect the work.

It was difficult to lay hands on some statistical records and on certain information which were treated as top secret and for public consumption.

Another factor that needs mentioning is sample error. Any work based on that never be as accurate as it will would have been if it were based on the entire population. However, no matter how representative the sample may be, its statistics are only estimates of the population parameters and an appropriate amount of error should be expected.

Bias is another factor worthy of mention. The respondents might have been biased in their answers. Beside since the researcher drew up the questions, the tendency that they were formed to elicit particular responses cannot be over looked.

All these factors would no doubt affect directly or indirectly this project work, hence it is being highlighted so that any body making decision based on the report will have to consider their effects.


Quite a lot has been written on civil service in Nigeria Effort was made to screen and collect some of the written ups or materials that have direct relevance to the topic study, that is inefficiency in the civil service cause and strategies for eradication. A case study of the ministry of agriculture, Ebonyi State civil service.

The materials come from textbooks, magazines, newspaper public service lecture, journals, white papers, and government Gazettes. The civil service will continue to receive a lot of bashing. The bashing now a recurrent episode will not deny the service on basic attribute, its methods of communication, has distanced it from the curricular of institutions of higher learning in the country it has abbreviations as its major asset and confusing it by product continuing this, the author maintained that a university graduate employed by the service need at least the years suffrage, to fall in line. Each ministry has its own parastals or department which coins its own words to suit its peculiar officers or officers. But, basically, the language remains the same.


       The civil service is not a creation of modern times the oxford advanced learner’s dictionary described the “civil services as the government departments in a country, except the armed formal forces, and the people who work them.

However, civil service is an organize institution which is expected to respond with speed sensitivity to changing policies and events the management of civil service should therefore be guide by the relevant provision in the constitution, the civil rules, the finally regulation and circulars.


In order to make for effective and economic management of civil service, ministries and Extra-Ministerial Department are structured according to their Objectives, functions and sizes and not according to a Uniform pattern. However, in any case of expansion beyond the approved structure for the Ministry, the additional Department(s) should be cleared with the Head of service for his comments to the President/Governor who in turn, if he agrees will present it to the Federal/State Council for final approval.

The minister in the Federal Civil service Just like the Commissioner in the state civil service is the head of the Ministry and for its general direction and control while the permanent secretary, a career officer should ordinarily be appointed as in state by the state chief Executive, on the advice of the civil service commission. The permanent secretary is the Accounting officer of the Ministry.

Really, the structure of the civil service in Ebonyi state can be defined as the basic institutional framework or machinery for the administration of the state. The components includes the following:

(a)       The office of the state Chief Executive

(b)      The office of the secretary to the State Government

(c)       The Ministries

(d)      The non-Ministerial Departments such as the state Audit Department, the local government Audit Department and the Board of Inertial Revenue.

(e)       The Bureaux namely the Bureau of lands, Survey and Town Planning and the public Utilities and Rural Development Bureau,

(f)        The civil service commission

(g)      The state Judicial Department

(h)      The Judicial Service Committee

The civil service has as in other state of the Federation the following function:

(a)       The evolution of public policies

(b)      Implementation of government polices

(c)       Stimulation of the public and private sections of the economy.

(d)      Monitoring of policy performance in the public and private sections.

(e)       Serving the various organs of the government.

Having fully examined the basic structure of the civil service of Ebonyi State, one can fully appreciate the main features of the structure, which are meant to ensure the following:

(a)       Over-all management efficiency and effectiveness

(b)      Specialization

(c)       Job Satisfaction

(d)      Optimum Span of control and

(e)       Clear lines of authority and responsibility

The concern of the civil service is for the good of the nation as a whole, irrespective of the party in power.


Precisely the Oxford English Dictionary defines efficiency’ as fitness or power to accomplish; or success in accomplishing, the purpose intended; adequate power effectiveness, efficiency.

       Efficiency relates to the conversion of inputs into outputs with special attention on how the inputs are used by Dr. Olewe B.N.

Inefficiency on the other hand is synonymous with out civil service. It is concerned with measuring the failure of inputs to achieve desired outputs, the gap between actual performance and expected performance and between results and efforts. It signifies a system that does not work well to produce good result. A seasoned bureaucrat, Chief S. O. Adebo, observed that it happens to be a fact that many Nigerians in responsible position fail to give that personal example in devotion to one’s work that motivates junior colleagues to give their best.


In recent times, the most castigated institution in the government is the civil service. Hardly a day passes that one does not read articles or comments in the press, attributing all ills in the nation to the civil service. Faults that should be attributed to other institutions or agencies of government are laid at the door of the civil service.

Speaking in the some vein Adeboyo sees the Nigerians civil service as a neglected one. He said that the Nigeria civil service is long out-molded and grossly inadequate to perform the function of managing an economy aspiring towards modernization.

The general consensus appears to be that the civil service operates with an impoverished concept of management which Over-Emphasizes routine control and procedures. This opined Ukwu. I. Ukwu has been a major source of waste and inefficiency and effectiveness. Yet as studies have shown, not only in Nigeria but also in Britain, nay move at rationalization is bound to meet a storm of protests from various entrenched interests and requires strong will and dogged persistence to carry through.

In his indictment of civil service the 39th president of the United States of America Jimmy Carter said that the civil service has become a bureaucratic maze which neglects merits, tolerates poor performances, permits abuse of legitimate employer rights and mires every personnel action in red tape, delay and confusion.

This shows that bureaucracy is the platform on which inefficiency and waste in the civil service of Nigeria are hinged. This is not peculiar to Nigeria alone.

Max Weber, a German sociologist felt that bureaucratic organizations are the most rational means of carrying out imperative control. Bureaucracy in the civil service has created words and abbreviations to make room for non-challant attitude to work. Its set up is based on hierarchy, complete with line of communication and chain of command. Individual positions are ranked to conform with the hierarchy. The organization is shaped like a pyramid with directives and commands or information following from the top to the bottom and bottom to top respectively.

In his public service lecture to Ebonyi State civil servants, Ukwu. I. Ukwu opined that another general problem is the mindless adherence to routines and procedure, which he described as a major source of waste and inefficiency in the public service. The small individual economies which can be made in the use of materials, in staffing level, in processes and procedures soon add up to large savings in money and inefficiency and effectiveness. Yet as studies have shown not only in Nigeria. Any move at rationalization is bound to meet a storm of protests from various entrenched interests and requires strong will and dogged persistence to carry through.

According to Jerome Udoji one more reason why the civil service performs poorly is because it is suffering from acute obsolescence. It is using antiquated method to manage a modern government economy. It is like a general medical practitioner using M and B tables to cure modern infections, now curable with antibiotic, or like a farmer trying to clear a thick bush with a hoe and matchet instead of using a tractor and bull-dozer. The management of activities of a modern government is big business and it requires bug methods. Today public service of Nigeria is involved in the affair that were beyond the imagination of civil servants 30 years age.

The research cannot but agree with the above author. It may perhaps seem that the renowned management Scholar Peter Drucker opined that “there are no underdeveloped economies, there are under managed economies”.

Osbagbeni was of the opinion that “person to person management rather than “person to Object” management developed in the Western world is a key problem militating against efficiency. There is no personalization of offices in Nigeria which is a marked divergence from the practice and the emphasis on the system concepts. For example, the “personality “factor in Nigerian management seems to supercede a preference for a system approach to organizational phenomenon. Organizational heads and sometimes, some identifiable personalities are often the Alpha and Omega in decision situations and talks of the organizational system as a whole for getting things done are at best academic. Channels of communication are often flouted with reckless abandon. During organizational crises, sometimes workers react in response to who said what, not necessary in response to the logic or the merit of what is being said or in conformity to laid down organizational procedure for channeling issues or setting disputes.

He says Western European write often desire their own practice of “person to object “models as superior to the “person to person “management models practiced in African South of the Sahara. If you go to the bank, the clinic or the post office for services, you are attended to, not in accordance with any agreed practice (e.g in first come, first served basis), but on the basis of who you are and or your relationship to the service giver.

The researcher in all fairness agrees to this believing that to the extend we shun the systems approach to any organizational structure, to that extent will unfairness tend to predominate and managerial and organizational effectiveness continue to be jeopardized.

The same writer talked on the evil effects of the extended families where there are close knits and mutual co-operation rather than to the work environment. The implication is that one’s family obligation in most cases takes first place to one’s work. A Nigerian could defraud, steal or falsify employment procedure in order to satisfy an extended family obligation.

Still on causes of inefficiency, pita Ejiofor listed five major factors, thus:

(a)       Lack of properly articulated objective

(b)      Uncoordinated development programmes

(c)       Inadequate infrastructure

(d)      Dysfunctional leadership practices and styles; and

(e)       Unmotivated and dispirited work force.

The research concurs with these as they are enemies of the civil service.

He also argues that the woes of our organization are a function of a consanguineous triumvirate of indiscipline, bad leadership and questionable integrity of some public officers.

This he continued in another book has brought about a situation where many public servants joined the service neither to serve, nor even to be served, but to put their strategic positions to serve themselves at the expense of their organizations. For instance, Ejionye stated that “the typical Nigerian worker today, is lazy and indolent. He avoids work and responsibility but loves money, wealth and all the good things of life. The Nigerian worker is material oriented, pleasure seeking and egocentric and wants to get rich quickly. He loves social status and want to be seen, recognized and treated with respect as the man on the head, in charge of affairs, the “oga”. The dominant concern of most salaried employees in Nigeria was less work, longer breaks, excuse, duty certificates, approved causal leaves, the on coming pubic holidays, and the looming industrial action. All these are to be enjoyed side by side by side with frequent salary increase, attractive allowance, accelerated promotions, fictitious claims, bounteous benefits and bouncing bonuses.

This opined the researcher is not far from truth and it goes against the supposed spirit of patriotism, that should be the bedrock of our civil service.

How can we talk of efficiency in the civil service when according to Ejiofor.

No plan no matter how sound cannot be thwarted….

No rule no matter how well drafted cannot be circumvented….

No tradition no matter how hoary cannot be broken….

No programme no matter how grand cannot be grounded, and No organization no matter how viable cannot be run down….. by well placed men of questionable integrity.

The  researcher shares the same view with the author.

Prof Ejiofor is not alone in his expression of grave concern about the performance in the civil service. Several state Governors have also complained bitterly about the non-challant attitude of the civil servants.

For example in 1985, the then Governor of Kwara state whilst inauguration a street light project warned that he will hold public offers personally responsible for the success and failure of project. He referred to civil servant as “dead woods”. In Cross River State Ukpo lamented that “inspite of generous incentives to civil servants in the state, their attitude to work is still nothing to write home about. Most of the government workers still perform below expectation. They still go to work late, loiter during working hours and close before time. There is hardly any visible realization by our workers that the success of government largely depends on their performance and that it is obligatory on them to render service to the state and nation effectively and happily.

In his own reaction to the inefficiencies that abound in the civil service, the then Governor of Gongola state colonel Madaki said that “the civil service today is a total write off”. You allowed yourself, he continued “to be whipped, instead of stopping the act of whipping, you inflict injury on yourself and ask others to wipe your tears.

The statement credited to these military officers are outward manifestation of the inherit inefficiencies on the civil service and the burning desire by these “gentlemen” of the force to reorientate the civil service towards greater efficiency, discipline and increased productivity.

It was the opinion of Sunday times of September 18,1975 that “A general nation that has characterized the civil service for quite a while now is that government work is “nobody’s work” and therefore not entitled to the same dedication and commitment as employees slow in their private sector. This is a carry over of Nigeria’s colonial experience, because during the colonial times indigenous civil servants had very limited future and growth potentials and this undoubtedly led to lack of incentive and motivation among public workers. Not only were they expected to carry our foreign based and partially understood government policies, they were certainly in no position to obtain commensurate rewards and compensation for jobs well done. Yet the colonial service attitude has persisted. A good reason for this is that the present management system of the service lacks an effective and dependable means of measuring performance and awarding corresponding rewards.

Continuing the same article maintained that the present management encourage under utilization of available manpower, attaches greater importance to the exercise of authority based entirely on hierarchy and seniority instead of competence and expertise; condones by implication subjective favoritism and encourages an unending race for the sheer maximization of prestige and status, regardless of how these acquired.

Writing in the same vein, it was the  view of S.O. Olisa that “the idea inherited from Nigeria’s colonial past that Government public corporation is “White man’s work” is still held by a large number of Nigerians, after this is accentuated by political patronage and tribalism and the result are quite detrimental to the best performance of our corporations “White man’s work ‘make’s it possible for one to be indolent without immediate retribution for discipline to be remote and circuitous for tenure and promotion to be unaffected by efficiency and productivity.

One peculiar thing that has so much become resistant to attack is the dray of colonial conceptualization of government as “white man’s work”. This has affected attitude and is responsible for widespread inefficiencies in length and breadth of civil service and attendant low productivity.

Amechi writing under the caption, the needs of the Nigerian worker’ said that the cause of frustration to worker’s is the unified pay structure. By this every body able or incompetent is leveled up. In many sectors and organizations there are no objective principle for fair evaluation of workers abilities.

The researcher sees in this one of the inefficiencies in the civil service. It is a case of “monkey-dey-work baboon de chop”. How can a worker put all his/her best in the office and see a follow worker on the same pay roll idlying away. The discouragement brings about inefficiency.

Ejiofor in his theory stated that Nigerian has already had a reasonable quantum of well trained manpower to pilot her development projects, but that the major hindrance to optimum productivity is bad attitude to work. Here are same of the assumptions of this theory-

(a)       The average Nigerian is corrupt, dishonest, neplotic, tribalistic and lazy and is all the time seeking for opportunity to cheat his employee.

(b)      The Nigerian society does not reward hardwork, diligence, objectivity, selflessness, patience, inventiveness. The emphasis is on short- cuts, hot cash, me first, now-now and quick-quick-quick.

(c)       As a result, the environment in Nigeria is not conducive to effective and efficient running of organizations, a pre-condition for national development.

Pius Okigbo in a public service lecture to Ebonyi State civil servants did say that “the trouble with the younger generation, it is often said, that it has not read them because first, there are no minutes, and secondly the order generation has been too pre-occupied with its own interest to pass on even by ward of mouth the core values around which the institution of the public service was created.

Ehizojie affirmed that due to lack of effective leadership civil servants developed a bad attitude of not being responsible, coming late to work, idlying away during office hours, gossiping, attending to their personal and domestic needs, shopping or just sitting on the job. The corrupt and inept political leadership permeated the rank and file of the civil service.

Still on inefficiency, Nzelibe said that government manager tend to have short time horizons. She said that public sector arrangement is artificial and imitative in outlook. This unique feature encourages uncreative behavior among bureaucrats. Closely related to the structure of the public sector, is the time perspective. Government manager tends to have short time horizons dictated by political necessities and the pressure groups to react towards issues. The shortness of the time does not permit well articulated and rational decisions. Consequently, public administrators resort to muddling through to satisfy the immediate demands and pressures. She also cited the recruitment of incompetent personnel’s as a cause of inefficiency.

The civil service Reforms Guidelines stipulates specific rules and regulations which the public manager must adhere to decision making process. The rigid adherence to these rules and regulations results in undue delays, wasteful cost in time and money, uncreativity, and other vices closely tied to he civil service.

The researcher agrees with the above view and even wishes to point out unionism as one of the problem as pita Ejiofor said” the frequent strike actions in government have not been helpful”.

When workers are not motivated in cash or kind their works are likely to be affected as pita continued “few of us would disagree that money has been and continued to be the primary means of rewarding human behaviors industry…. We still emphasis motivation and incentive in our bid to improve productivity.

Mr. Emengo had this to say “for the determination of the efficiency level of the civil service of the states, one needs to consider the prevailing conditions under which the system operates. There is no gain saying the fact, that the state is endowed with abundant human resources. This is easily evident in the civil service. However, one of the major constraints is the paucity of funds relative to the problems on the ground. Another factor is that inadequacy of housing at Awka for offices and the headquarter staff, some of whom were operating from Enugu state few years after the creation of the state”.

The researcher shares the view and sees lack of communication as a big problem as Dr. Ike Onwuchekwa said “Maintenance of the work force through effective communication is of great importance to an organization. In our country effective communication is a major managerial problem. The management of respective organizations in this country generally, communicate very little and this situation hinders effective responses from subordinates.

He also opined that negligence in many organizations (civil service included) of employees safety and health due to adverse deficiency of equipment facilities and other aspects of negative incentives is also a major cause of inefficiency in the service.


Low standard of work being carried out by sub-standard employees is testimony enough to the effect of inefficiency in civil service. Some of these were employed simply because they have a “God father” as prominent members.

These workers find themselves there as a result of discriminations against better bets.

The researcher agrees with Dr. Onwuchekwa who said that “in employment relationship, it is important to eliminate discriminations.

The Daily Times Editorial Opinion of Friday 15th January 1982 had this to say with respect to the attitude to workers of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), “it is disappointing that the non-challant attitude to work by the medical staff of LUTH had led to the untimely death of many patients. Such as institution is supposed to be exemplary in the way it attends to patients in its attempt in inculcate good working habit in its students. Regrettably, the Lagos University Teachin Hospital is being gradually reduced into a sure death house because of the lousy attitude of the medical staff to human life, is what forces some of the affluent among us to hurry abroad for medical care.

Productivity is reduced according to Ejiofor who said that “The nepotic –cum-sectionalistic cum selfish behavior is a two edged sword that hews down the productivity of out organizations.

On this premise F.E Ehizojie wrote that productivity is an issue that generates a lot of controversy in the civil service, due to the important role it pays in the overall development of any nation. It constitutes our main instrument of consolidating our independence”.

Also writing on the role of the civil service and the danger inherent in its negative attitude to work, Umoh James Umoh is an article “poor attitude to work can ruin a nation criticized Nigerian workers attitude to their work and concluded that Nigerian’s ambition for rapid industrialization, economic prosperity, social and political stability will be singularly and collectively frustrated if the current poor attitude to work of Nigerian workers in the public and private sectors is not urgently and positively improved.

Corruption is rife and is now an endemic societal problem. The emphasis is on shortcuts, hot cash, me first, now – now and quick – quick – quick. That was why Ejiofor said that “the worst enemy of the public is a corrupt public servant”.

On the corruption in the civil service, it was the view of Udoji albeit sadly that ‘it is unrealistic therefore, for Nigeria to say that government will eliminate corruption, but it must make it one of its prime objectives to control corruption.

Also writing under the captain, “The people we are”, muritala sule asserted that the managers in the office, the clerk, the executive officer, the permanent secretary, all of them would ask for bribe performing their duties, if you had to meet them for anything. And bribe goes under many names such as dash, kola, kick back, ten percent, do –me-well, and so on.

Sola Aina said that corruption “is prevalent at every level, polity administrative as well as the upper and middle levels of bureaucracy. Corrupt practices occur in nearly all ministries, departments and agencies. The practice is more wide spread with each passing day. He concluded by saying that urgent steps or solutions are required to ensure the survival of the Nigerian society.

Inefficiency has brought about untold hardship to people according to Ademolekun “there is abundant evidence of ineffective management in our schools and universities, in the civil service, in the public co-operations and state owned companies, in the Judiciary and in the Army. We all experience varying degrees of hardship at the hands of those who manage the admission of our children to schools and universities, our encounter with the different arms of the civil service reveal various forms of inept management, the public co-operations are notorious on their incompetence and inefficiency; the administration of justice is unsatisfactory in many respects and the indiscipline of the so – called disciplined forces, (the army and the police) is an eloquent testimony of the ineffective management.

Inefficiency had let to unnecessary waste of time that would have been hitherto used in used in useful accomplishments. On this Oshagbeni: said that “part of the socio cultural problem is the attitude to time called the “African time”. Africans do not generally regard time as a scare economic resource. Attendance even in official functions are hardly prompt.

The above explains why an interview scheduled for 10.00 am. Will delayed till 12 noon or even 1 pm. The effective officer turns up without plausible excuse or word of apology and goes on as if nothing happened.

Inefficiency as Mrs. Nwokoye said has brought about a high rate of indiscipline such as truancy, absenteeism and the misuse of government funds, resources and equipment. She continued …….. We should not forget that tax payers money goes into government revenue which ought to be judiciously managed for the over benefits of all the citizens. If wasted and mismanaged, little will be left for the provision of basic social and economic infrastructure and amenities in the state. The people continue to suffer untold hardship when the public officers are suppose to serve them satisfactorily, by implementing approved government projects with utmost efficiency and commitment.

Inefficiency has also brought with it mistrust as most of the efficient top public officers find their juniors cannot be trusted to work to the best of their abilities. Dispatching a file may take longer than necessary. This has made some top public functionaries to often fail to delegate duties preferring to do the work themselves, to ensure that the job is done. These top officers are generally over – stretched and failing to delegate makes their situation worse. But for one to try to do all the unnecessary decrease in the expected end products or performance.

Some workers are sub-standard and lack knowledge and according to Dr. Onwuchekwa “due to lack of complete knowledge …… organizations frequently face unsolved and unpredictable problems. These problems cause uncertainty and prevent the organization from operating in an economically efficient manner.

Continuing, he said that “bias towards certainty cannot be discredited. Managers.. refuse to react to changes…………… or face reality. This affects strategy formulation. For instance some managers prefer short term rather than qualitative data, precedent rather than innovation etc.

Inefficiency has made many top officers view themselves occupying top posts rather than view their post as instruments for accomplishment. This office holding view Dr. Onwuchekwa said “many occur in the structured organization, which has somehow obtained limitless resources or monopolistic position and thereby has achieved an unusual degree of independence. In such situations dissatisfactions with or lack of respect for the organization may be present …

The effects of inefficiency is also made manifest where Dr. Onwuchekwa continued “power in the organization is based on factors extraneous to organization and achievement. Where family ties, patronage, bribery, or tradition is the basis for participation in the coalition, we would wxpct intrigue rather than achievement to dominate in administrative circles. It therefore appears that the individuals efforts may make a difference in the relationship to the   organization, but cannot make a difference in the organization itself.

This is a basic source of frustration for administrators who have been schooled in modern societies but hold administrative responsibilities in traditional societies.

The researcher concurs with his views seeing in the civil service especially in Ebonyi an embodiment of the traditional society.


For any organization to work  out fine there is the need for incentives as Dr. Onwuchekwa puts it. “In a developing country like Nigeria material insensitive are considered very important since most of the people are living in physiological level. So most of the Nigerians have physiological needs. It is only when people have satisfied these needs that they are motivated to seek the satisfaction of his /her needs.

Material inducements include money, things or physical conditions that are offered to the individual as inducements to accepting employment, compensation for service, reward for contribution. These types of inducements give status to workers and they priority to both low and high income workers. In Nigeria where business organization offer more material inducements than government ministries (or civil service in general) majority of the Nigerian Labour force prefer to work in the private sector since more material incentives are offered. Desirable physical working environment is considered important as incentive for all classes of workers.

He also sees co-ordination as one of the strategies for efficiency. He said, ‘its major aim is to create effective link between the component parts of organization structure which resulted from departmentalization. So co-ordination is primarily achieved through effective communication system.

A government white paper recommends that delegations of duties should be observed in the civil service as a matter of practice. It also recommends that the problem of delays in decision and actions should be redressed by training in time management, review of procedures, setting of standard time for work and delegation of duties………obsolete and inefficient office producers in the civil service should be periodically identified and reviewed…….Government should embark on a commitment to eradicate corruption both in the public service and in the larger society………recommended strict engaged in should be applied against those found to have engaged in corrupt practices and they should publicly exposed……..remuneration in the civil service should be made sufficiently attractive to discourage corruption.

Dr Onwuchekwa said that “It is recommend that organizations should draw up their safety planning programmes. There is need to draw the healthy programmes which will include physical and mental programmes………. Healthy workers will be more willing to perform. Absenteeism will be more where workers are not healthy.

With regards to the development of manpower in the service, training on a continuous basis is very essential, in order to enhance the potentials of all workers, the senior management efforts inclusive. We are in a dynamic world, constantly undergoing changes in all the sectors in the social, economic, political and technological areas. We cannot afford to wallow in ignorance, using obsolete methods and practices, with archaic tools and equipment which often lack the spare part to keep them functional. Our environment is replete with abandoned structures and equipment which have almost become disfunctional even before they have been installed or commissioned for use.

Without training and re-training, professionalization will remain a mirage. The expert needs training and refresher courses to improve his professional expertise.

Adebayo said that ‘A man’s capability can best be demonstrated in field most familiar to him by training and experience. When you put a man on a job for which he has no experience or background training, then it is asking too much to expect him to be master of that job immediately: the situation described above is all too common in the Nigerian civil service. It is important to recognize at all times hat the deployment of a man to the task for which he is most qualified and frequent posting urged on the grounds of exigencies of service, can be detrimental to efficiency. No one who is constantly on the move and never able to find his feet, let alone master the subject matter of his schedule of work, can be expected to offer useful advice or assist in the formulation of policy.

Continuing he said that there is need to defined objectives. Departments and agencies of government need to give conscious attention to aims, goals and targets. One of the modern management techniques, management by objectives (MBO) should become the aim of policy in all government departments. For too long have officials, from top to bottom, performed their task by rote, by rule of thumb, doing the same things year after year without giving thought to why certain things are being done or whether it was ever necessary to do them at all if so, whether  the present way of doing them is the best possible way.

In conclusion I wish to re-echo prof. Ejiofor’s Clarion call “please do Ebonyi State a favour. Give it to him who merits it. You are giving progress to Ebonyi State. And may you receive it when it is your due. That will make our organizations perform.


For the fact that inefficiency abounds in every organization, most especially the civil service whose activities has effect on the society in which they govern can not be emphasized. Various literatures of different authors were discussed and in inefficiency was found to be the canker worm eating up the civil service.

Finding also revealed causes of inefficiency in the civil service but the researcher tends to concentrate more on the ministry of Agriculture, Ebonyi State, Awka because of the way they carry out duties terms of recommendation and implementation of policy.

Finally, a closer look at some strategies for eradication of inefficiency in the civil service.

2013 copyright Inefficiency in the Civil Service: Cause and Strategies for Eradication





12 Comments on “Inefficiency in the Civil Service: Cause and Strategies for Eradication”

  1. Eze Ernest Amobichukwu says:

    I really appreciate the literature.

  2. Eze Ernest Amobichukwu says:

    I really appreciate the news update.

  3. dickson wright says:

    I really appreciate this update it has solve my problems.

  4. onyenwigwe oluchi c says:

    D write up is great,it aided me in my research work.tnks.

  5. Zakariyya Kuki says:

    I really appreciate this update, thank you much

  6. Namujju irene lwanga says:

    Really good content, thanks for the good work.

  7. ruthie kalu says:

    tanks very much
    i was able to do my government assignment

  8. Azeez Kadiri says:

    i appreciate your write up. you wonderfully, extracted the salient points on the issue. Unfortunately, we are still where are as a nation because of this defective systemic configuration. Only when we have a serious government with the will power to correct the ill, then shall we be truely effective in implementing thier policies.

  9. please where are the references of this Write up

  10. adebayo Adebola says:

    I appreciate your write up please I also need a write up on extension needs of civil servants involved in agricultural activities ..please help me out on this write up all my effort has been abortive

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