NEWS ANALYSIS: Civil servants as agents of propagating Change Agenda

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President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated an attitudinal change campaign — Change Begins with Me — in September 2016 as part of his change agenda for Nigerians to imbibe new ways of doing things.

The presidency has, since then, been appealing to stakeholders, especially the civil servants, to support efforts at building a vibrant civil service and corruption-free Nigeria to make the mantra effective.

Further to this, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning recently organised a training workshop on Specialised Change Management for its staff and those of its agencies to demonstrate what ought to be the roles of public officers in propagating the agenda.

Change management, according to analysts, is a collective term for all approaches to preparing and supporting individuals, teams, and organisations in making organisational change.

During the training, Mr Olajide Odewale, the permanent secretary of the ministry, observed that Nigeria had been undergoing a period of change to restore the values of governance in recent times and adopt the best practice in the scheme of things.

He said the need to change the old order and institute a more progressive, transparent and good leadership had made it imperative to embark on various reforms that could make the change agenda work.

According to him, the various reforms by the government are driven by the ministry.

“As a leading policy making and implementing institution in Nigeria, it is important that the ministry is properly equipped with human capital resources.

“It is important in order to be able to deliver on its mandate. This understanding has led to the various reforms going on in the ministry,’’ Odewale said.

The permanent secretary explained that the ministry trained no fewer than 70 officials to build their capacity on change management to enhance service delivery at the workshop.

The participants were drawn from the main ministry and its parastatals such as National Bureau of Statistics, Centre for Management Development, Budget Office and Nigerian Institute for Social Economic Research.

Odewale urged the participants to put the lessons they learnt into practice.

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Also speaking, Alhaji Arabi Dasuki, the Acting Director-General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms, said that with the inauguration of change agenda, sanity was gradually coming back to civil service.

Dasuki also urged the participants to put what they learnt into practice in the discharge of their duties to promote the agenda.

He described the ministry as the best performing ministry amongst its peers in the area of reforms coordination.

In her address, Mrs Nnenna Akajemeli, National Coordinator, SERVICOM, advised the participants to be drivers of change in their various organisations.

“The bottom-line of our reforms is the quality of service that touches the lives of people.

“Therefore, the end of what you have learnt is to know when to put it into action. So let your actions show in a way you service people.

“Let it show in a way you serve people and the way you touch lives of all citizens,’’ she said.

Some of the participants commended the ministry for organising the training, observing that they were equipped with knowledge to be drivers of change in their various offices.

One of the Mr Folasayo Adeleke, a civil servant, said that he learnt how to improve on service delivery by changing his attitude to work and be a good example to others in his office.

“We are lead reformers of change, agents of change; we have to be creative, add value to our work and be efficient,’’ he said.

Other participants also described the workshop as great and impactful but noted that such workshop should also be organised for management staff.

A female participant from the ministry said the management staff should be trained on change management because they were the main drivers of change.

“We will not be able to implement what we have learnt here effectively if the management staff members are not equipped with the same knowledge,’’ she said.

Assuring the participants of the cooperation of the ministry at the end of the workshop, Odewale said the management staff of the ministry would also undergo refresher courses on change management to enhance service delivery.

The permanent secretary said that the ministry would improve on the quality of training for the staff and increase the number of participants as well.

“We will see how we can conduct refresher courses for management staff because it is my responsibility to enhance the capacity of human resources in the ministry.

“The management staff members have been trained but this particularly training is an ongoing process; it is not going to end with this batch.

“I assure you that as many staff that will like to attend the course would be given the opportunity to do so.

“Training in change management started many years and some of us on this side of the classroom have had the opportunity of going through the training process.

“I don’t know how many of you did `Orosanye’s School’ in 2008/2009.

“We attended lectures conducted by the Head of Service through consultants on series of topics on change management as part of the conditions for promotion.

“We all had to struggle to make sure that we understood what we learnt; we memorised the ones we did not know for us to pass the examination,’’ the permanent secretary said.

Nevertheless, analysts say the change mantra is not for the president and vice-president alone but for everybody which civil servants ought to promote.

Therefore, they advised the civil servants to be on the same page with the president in the delivery of the agenda.(NANFeatures)

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