Precisely two days after his assumption of office, the new Borno Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum did the unexpected – he stormed the State Secretariat in Maiduguri at about 8:30am to measure the level of compliance of the civil servants to the rules of engagement.
To his greatest surprise, though not unexpected in the Nigerian civil service, 99% of the workers were not at their desk.
Of course those caught napping were not only those on the lower rung of the ladder. They included Permanent Secretaries and Directors who ordinarily ought to have set standards for others to follow.
The new governor, who moved from one ministry to the other, was visibly angry and frustrated particularly in a state that did not owe workers salaries.
Hear him: “In my modest wisdom, I decided to visit the state secretariat which hosts the largest chunk of the state workforce to determine the desirability or otherwise of paying the civil service.
“On my visit this morning, even though I am a human being who is aware that the Ramadan fasting is ongoing, I came into the secretariat at about 8:30 a.m. and met a total of not more than about four (4) staff on ground.
“By 9:40 a.m., only a total of 130 staff were in the Secretariat.
“If this is the case in our government offices, what justification do we then have to pay the civil servants?
“I’m ready to pay salaries and even clear backlogs, and I’m ready to work with the civil servants, but there is no food for a lazy man under our government.”
The visit of the new governor to the state secretariat was not merely to ‘catch’ late comers but to announce to the workforce that indeed there is a new Sheriff in Town.
He, therefore, rewarded the few workers the were on ground for their punctuality and dedication to their responsibilities.
I learnt that that particular move by the new governor had already sent shivers down the spine of many civil servants in the state, as many of them are said to be preparing to turn a new leaf.
As far as I know, that is particular a good move to set the good governance ball rolling. The civil service ought to be the engine room of any government where policies and programmes of the political leadership are being implemented. A situation where the civil service does not match the pace of the political leadership will be counterproductive.
The visit to the secretariat was symbolic in so many ways. It’s a way of announcing to the civil service that the new governor would not condone any malfeasance be it indiscipline, dereliction of duty, corruption, truancy, etc.
It’s a perfect way to set his standard of work ethics. I believe those caught in the web of the recent governor’s visit to the secretariat have answered their queries and those without genuine reasons of why they were away from office at the appointed time should be reprimanded.
Joe Mutah wrote from Abuja