The Five Ways of Leaving the Civil Service in Nigeria (2024)

Leaving the Nigerian Civil Service can be a big problem for many civil servants in the country.

The Nigerian Civil Service is one place you can have a secured and distinguished career path. It offers stability, valuable contributions to society, and a chance to be part of the nation’s development.

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However, it also has strict rules that many civil servants can’t meet up with, thereby leading to the end of most fulfilling careers in the service.

The normal duration of years before you retire as a civil servant in Nigeria is 35 years.

Whether you’re nearing retirement, seeking new professional challenges, or exploring entrepreneurial ventures, having a well-planned exit strategy can ensure a smooth transition and maximize your future opportunities.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into five key methods for leaving the Nigerian Civil Service, drawing on official regulations and practical considerations.


There are several reasons why someone might consider leaving the Nigerian civil service, some of the most important ones are:

  • Low Salary: This reason is a major one, as the salaries in the civil service in Nigeria may not be as competitive compared to other private sectors or industries. This will lead to individuals wanting to seek better-paying opportunities elsewhere.
  • Limited Career Progression: In some cases, the career advancement within the civil service might be slow or limited due to bureaucratic processes, which can frustrate ambitious individuals looking for faster progression.
  • Lack of Recognition and Appreciation: Employees may feel undervalued or unappreciated for their contributions within the civil service, which can lead to dissatisfaction and a desire to seek recognition elsewhere.
  • Workload and Stress: The workload in the Nigerian civil service can be demanding, with long hours and high levels of stress, especially during peak periods such as budget preparation or elections.
  • Bureaucratic Red Tape: Excessive bureaucracy and administrative hurdles within the civil service can hinder efficiency and productivity, causing frustration among employees.
  • Corruption and Nepotism: Instances of corruption and nepotism within the Nigerian civil service is at an all time high and may deter individuals who value integrity and fairness from continuing their careers in that environment.
  • Lack of Training and Development Opportunities: Limited access to training and professional development programs within the civil service may hinder employees’ ability to acquire new skills and advance their careers.
  • Job Insecurity: Concerns about job security, especially in times of government restructuring or budget cuts, may prompt individuals to seek employment in more stable sectors.
  • Poor Working Conditions: Inadequate infrastructure, facilities, and working conditions within some government offices may contribute to dissatisfaction among civil servants.
  • Desire for Entrepreneurship or Private Sector Opportunities: Some individuals may wish to pursue entrepreneurship or explore opportunities in the private sector, attracted by the potential for higher earnings and greater autonomy.
  • Geopolitical Factors: In certain regions of Nigeria, political instability or security concerns may influence individuals’ decisions to leave the civil service in search of safer environments or better prospects elsewhere.

These reasons, among others, can influence an individual’s decision to leave the Nigerian civil service in favor of alternative career paths or employment opportunities.


Below are legal ways of leaving the Nigerian Civil Service this 2024.


Retirement from the Nigerian civil service is a significant milestone that marks the end of an individual’s formal career within the public sector.

It is governed by specific criteria and regulations, offering both mandatory and voluntary options for civil servants.


  1. Age Requirement: One of the primary criteria for mandatory retirement from the Nigerian civil service is reaching the stipulated age limit. Typically, civil servants are required to retire upon reaching a certain age, which is commonly set at 60 years.
  2. Service Years: Apart from age, civil servants may also be required to retire upon completing a certain number of years in service. This criterion ensures that individuals do not remain in their positions indefinitely, allowing for the recruitment of new talent and the promotion of career progression within the civil service. The specific number of years required for mandatory retirement may vary depending on the rank or grade of the civil servant.


It is worth noting that certain categories of civil servants may be exempted from mandatory retirement based on their roles or positions.

For instance, judges within the judiciary and academic staff employed by universities often have different retirement criteria tailored to the nature of their professions.

These exceptions recognize the unique demands and expertise required for such roles, allowing individuals to continue their contributions beyond the typical retirement age.


In addition to mandatory retirement, the Nigerian civil service also offers voluntary retirement options for individuals who wish to exit the public sector before reaching the mandatory retirement age or service years.

Voluntary retirement allows civil servants to retire at their discretion, providing flexibility in planning their transition out of the workforce.


Resignation is a voluntary means through which individuals can leave the Nigerian civil service.

It involves formally notifying the appropriate authorities of one’s decision to terminate employment.

Proper procedure and awareness of potential consequences are essential when considering resignation.


  1. Drafting the Resignation Letter: The first step in resigning from the Nigerian civil service is to draft a formal resignation letter addressed to the appropriate authority. The letter should be concise, respectful, and clearly state the intention to resign from the position.
  2. State Reasons (Optional): While not mandatory, individuals may choose to include reasons for resigning in the letter. Whether it’s for career advancement, personal reasons, or pursuing other opportunities, providing a brief explanation can help maintain professionalism.
  3. Specify Effective Date: The resignation letter should specify the intended last working day or effective date of resignation. This allows for proper planning and transition arrangements within the organization.
  4. Submit to Supervising Officer or HR Department: Once the resignation letter is drafted, it should be submitted to the appropriate authority within the civil service hierarchy, typically the immediate supervisor or the Human Resources (HR) department.
  5. Follow-Up: After submitting the resignation letter, it’s advisable to follow up with the relevant authority to ensure that the resignation is acknowledged and processed accordingly.


A leave of absence is a temporary period during which an individual is granted permission to be away from their duties within the Nigerian civil service.

There are various types of leave tailored to accommodate different circumstances, and it’s crucial to adhere to proper procedures to ensure eligibility for benefits and maintain organizational efficiency.


  1. Spouse Relocation Leave: This type of leave is granted to civil servants whose spouses are relocating to another location due to job transfers, educational pursuits, or other legitimate reasons. It allows the affected individual to accompany their spouse without jeopardizing their employment status.
  2. Study Leave: Study leave is provided to civil servants pursuing further education or professional development programs relevant to their role within the civil service. It enables individuals to enhance their skills and qualifications while maintaining their employment status.
  3. Sick Leave: Sick leave is granted to civil servants who are unable to perform their duties due to illness or injury. It allows individuals to take time off to recuperate and seek medical attention without risking their employment.
  4. Maternity/Paternity Leave: Maternity leave is granted to female civil servants to enable them to take time off before and after childbirth, ensuring their health and well-being as well as facilitating bonding with their newborn. Paternity leave, on the other hand, allows male civil servants to take time off to support their partners during childbirth and adjust to their new family dynamics.
  5. Public Service Programs Leave: Some civil servants may be granted leave to participate in public service programs, such as election duties, community development projects, or government-sponsored initiatives aimed at societal improvement.


Disengagement due to performance issues represents a significant way through which individuals may leave the Nigerian civil service.

It typically occurs when an employee’s performance falls below the expected standards, leading to disciplinary action or termination.

It is important that you understand the reasons for dismissal or termination and consulting the relevant regulations is essential in such circumstances.


  1. Disciplinary Action: Employees may face dismissal or termination from the civil service as a result of disciplinary action taken against them due to misconduct, violation of rules or regulations, or other serious infractions. Examples of such misconduct include insubordination, fraud, corruption, or other forms of malpractice.
  2. Poor Performance: Persistent failure to meet job requirements, achieve performance targets, or uphold the standards of the civil service may result in disengagement due to poor performance. This can include consistent underperformance, negligence of duties, or incompetence in carrying out assigned tasks.


Secondment involves the temporary transfer of an employee from their current position within the civil service to work with another organization, which could be a government agency, private company, non-profit organization, or international institution.

During the secondment period, the individual retains their civil service employment status, benefits, and rights, while fulfilling duties and responsibilities assigned by the host organization.

Secondment arrangements are typically governed by formal agreements between the civil service organization, the employee, and the host organization.

These agreements outline the terms and conditions of the secondment, including the duration, scope of work, reporting lines, and any financial arrangements or allowances.


As you’ve seen, leaving the Nigerian Civil Service can be done using any of the five well-defined options, each with its own advantages and considerations.

Whether you envision a well-deserved retirement, a strategic career shift, or a temporary break, there’s a path that aligns with your goals.

We encourage you to delve deeper into the specifics relevant to your situation. Consult your Human Resources department, review the official Public Service Rules, and don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance if needed.

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Oluchi Chukwu

Oluchi is a seasoned Information blogger, content developer and the editor of Nigerian Queries. She is a tech enthusiast who loves reading, writing and research

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