The 1988 Civil Service Reforms in Nigeria

The civil service was greatly reformed in 1988 in line with the recommendations of the Dotun Philips civil service review panel established in 1985 by the federal government.


Major points of these reforms are as follows:

1. The minister, not the permanent secretary, assumed responsibility as the chief executive and accounting officer of the ministry. He was responsible for the policies and programmes of his ministry.

2. The permanent secretary was now called director- general and his appointment was now to be entirely political, i. e. he may retire with the government that appointed him. He may however, be reappointed by a new administration, but the appointee could reject the appointment and stay in service if he did not wish to retire yet.

3. There was professionalization of each ministry. Each officer now made his career in the ministry or department of his choice to acquire the necessary experience required for his efficiency in the civil service. The system of Central used pooling of administrative, executive and clerical officers was stopped thus also ending the inter – ministry transfer of officers.

4. Each ministry was to see the appointment, discipline and promotion of its staff following the guidelines provided by The federal civil commission. The federal civil service commission recruited staff form Grade level 11 and above.

5. The federal civil service commission now did the following under the reform:

a. Stated clearly the responsibilities of the employees in the ministries.

b. Monitored the ministries to ensure compliance with the guidelines and general existing civil service rules.

c. Served as an appellate body on all personnel matters, and kept personnel records of the entire civil service.

d. Trained civil servants, with emphasis on specialization and professionalism.

e. Had responsibility for review of the organization and method, grading and pay and general management services of the entire civil service.

f. Managed the pension scheme, pending the re-organization of the civil service pension scheme.

6. The horizontal structure of the service was based on three major functioning departments:

a. Personnel department

b. Finance department, and

c. Planning department.

A ministry may have five additional ‘operations’ departments to carry out its basic functions. The total number of departments must not exceed eight. A vertical structure in a ministry, to improve professionalism and specialization, should consist of divisions, which could be broken down into branches, which could be further broken into specialized sections.

7. Each ministry established its own personnel management board and its committees. Its composition must reflect a fair geopolitical spread. The Principle of Federal character was applicable to the recruitment of officers must be based on merit, 07 to Grade Level 10. Promotion of this calibre of officers must be based on merit, while the federal civil service commission remained an appellate body for aggrieved or dissatisfied officers.

8. The Central Bank and the Ministry of Budget and planning were located in the office of the President while the productivity, Prices and Incomes Board was located in the ministry of finance and economic Development.

9.The office of the head of service was abolished at the federal level, while that of the secretary to the government remained with the incumbent wielding considerable political and administrative powers.

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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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