Is corruption the only cause of ineffectiveness in Nigerian public sector?


A common assumption is that corruption is the only cause of ineffectiveness of public sector organizations in an institutionally corrupt society. However, is this really the case? A new study on the “challenges to effective management of public sector organizations in an institutionally corrupt society: a study of Nigeria”, from the University of Vaasa shows that there are other factors that pose a big challenge to effectiveness of public sector organizations.

Ethelbert Nwokorie’s doctoral thesis investigates how corruption breeds other factors that affect the behaviours of managers of public sector organizations in Nigeria, and make them ineffective.
Negative networking leads to ineffectiveness

Networking provides managers the opportunity to interact with actors outside their organization. In Nigerian, ‘godfatherism’ is one of networking strategies managers of public sector organizations use for their career progression. They commit much of their organizations’ time and resources in the effort to join and sustain their membership of different network groups. Membership of the godfather’s network has little or nothing to do with the effectiveness of public sector organizations, other than benefiting the network members according to Nwokorie’s study.
Quota system is a setback

Apart from godfatherism, Nwokorie’s study identified other factors that make public sector organizations in Nigeria ineffective. Against the spirit of competitive recruitment and promotion standards, the Northern political elites introduced the quota system/federal character into the Nigerian constitution, to accommodate people from Northern Nigeria who are educationally backward into the federal public service and higher institutions of learning. This undermines merit, excellence, competence, and hard work. It constitutes a setback to effectiveness of public sector organizations in the country.
Poor salary kills motivation

Employees of public sector organizations are poorly paid, and in most cases, employees and pensioners are owed months of unpaid areas of salaries and pensions. This negatively affects motivation and commitment to their jobs and pushes many of them to involve in unethical practices and using government paid time to run their private businesses.

“Managers of Nigerian public sector organizations manifest poor leadership by failing to keep promises and agreements with employees, disregard for employees’ welfare, restricting every benefit to themselves, lack of transparency, poor communication, not knowing when to be work centered and when to be human centered”, says Nwokorie.

There is also lack of employees’ training and development, capacity building programmes, and performance measurement standards. All these whittle down the influence, confidence and trust managers enjoy from their employees. It also reduces employees’ motivation to function effectively in their organizations. Hence, managers merely command employees’ attendance, but not their attention.

Nwokorie conducted this qualitative research by interviewing senior and middle-level managers of public sector organizations, in the three (Federal, State and Local) tiers of government across Nigeria.

Managers of Nigerian public sector organizations think that their key to effectiveness is in the traditional management roles. This is evident in their penchant for treating files and memos, instead of communication and human resource management functions. This negatively affect their leadership style and manifest in their inability to motivate their employees to function effectively.

Finally, Nwokorie suggests that increasing citizenship education and social reorientation will help in rebuilding the broken moral codes and values in the Nigerian society. It will also help managers of public sector organizations to keep to their organizations ethical standards. Though the idea behind the quota system/federal character policy is rationale, a minimum standard should adopted for the implementation of this policy. It will reduce the level of incompetence and mediocrity associated with the policy.

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Godwin Okafor is a financial journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and the Founder Naija247news Media Ltd He has over 16 experiences in journalism, which cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career in Business Day, Where he was a senior editorial graphic artist, before he left to start Naija247news, An Online Financial Newspaper in 2010. He has won series of awards and he is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of and also sits on the board of Students In Business Awards, (SIBA).


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