Citizens’ participation has been mentioned as a major means to unlocking Nigeria’s economic potential. Re-engineering the public service with citizens participation in governance as a major objective is required for optimum performance. It is the performance that is derived through such re-engineering effort that enables national development.

Mr Sam Egube, Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, made the conclusion in his paper presented at the annual public lecture of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management in Nigeria, Delta State branch at the Unity Hall, Government House, Asaba last weekend.

The theme of the presentation was: Re-engineering the public service for optimal performance.

Egube argued that Public Service anywhere in the world plays a very significant role in transforming government policies and programmes into reality.

He said in most countries including Nigeria, the performance of the public service in discharging its role cannot be seperated from the level of development experienced in the country. He mentioned, that a lot still needs to be done in the form of reforms in the public service to achieve optimum performance.

He mention, three important roles of the public service as: Provision of services to the c, Improving the revenues of state through public services and taxes and thirdly policy design, regulation and efforcement. The public service, is mainly conscious and well known for its regulatory and enforcement roles much more than for its role to provide service to the citizens with excellence and emphathy. A lot of the public service performance is by observing expenditure levels and how it is shared or deployed rather than focusing on the performance on the revenue side through citizens inclusion in taxes and service. He argued that consumption through expenditure tracking is less challenging than how the country is resourced through production, investments and services (revenues). He said, the quality of leaders and personnel required to distribute resources is uniquely different from those required to generate the required resources for development.

He affirmed that there is no doubt that this country has huge potential to compete globally as an economic power house, given both her natural and human resource. He however argued, that it is the average quality of the human resource that gives meaning to the natural resource. You may own a natural resource but not control it if indeed the people or citizen are not skilled enough or organised to do so.

Egube said that while it may be true that discrimination leaves an undesirable feeling in hunan’s mind, performance however discriminates. This discrimination can be seen clearly in the economic and social development outcomes seen in countries like Singapore and South Korea which he used as case studies.

He showed that in the past thirty years both Singapore and South Korea have increased their GDP per capital 5 times compared to Nigeria’s 2 times on a purchasing power parity basis. He showed through charts that the economic outcomes can be linked to citizens participation in the respective countries as demonstrated by the UN E-participation index, the tax revenues to GDP ratios and the percentage of eligible voters participating in respective elections.

“Singapore came a long way from a challenging context in the 60s to become a thriving diversified economy, while South Korea came from a challenging context to become the 4th largest economy in Asia. In all, the public service must be organised to attract increased citizens participation while operating an active performance management system. This can be achieved by improving how the public service harnesses two way communication and preferences with the people through digitization of government systems and service footprint, encouraging an atmosphere of transparency and accountability leading to a robust consequence management mechanism that installs trust. The lack of effective or commensurate consequence in any nation are the hall marks of continued underdevelopment as it brings citizen’s self regulation to its knees. In addition to this, the public service needs to figure out how to attract and retain top talent. If people are at the heart of converting our enough resources to economic and social value, the attracting and retaining top talent will be leverage indeed.

He cleverly cited Lagos State as a vivid example of promising national development through citizen partnership and participation.

He said Lagos is undoubtedly a pioneer in participatory governance, because it actively enlists the inputs of citizens in the budgetary process through various consultative fora, Lagos also hosts Ehingbeti, which is the economic summit, where account is made for resolutions reached at past events. The last one that was held achieved a performance of 93% implementation of resolutions reached in prior summits. Lagos is by no means where it wants to be as it compares itself with leading cities around the world in line with her vision, which is to be Africa’s model megacity and a global financial and economic hub that is safe, secure, functional and productive.

“Lagos proactively takes the lead in promising inclusion and development. Lagos is the melting pot of culture in Nigeria and around the globe. People from 300 tribes and 500 languages refer to themselves as Lagosians . The state there supports significant efforts in diversity in the mix of women, youths and even the inclusion of other tribes in cabinet, parastatals and government agencies, a culture that other states should emulate.

Nigeria should connect to this by treating and cultivating Lagos as a national asset, a state that signals Nigerians future in terms of diversity, development and growth.

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