Public Administration Project Topics

An Examination and Analysis of the Reforms to the Civil Service in Nigeria





In Nigeria, the beginning of reforms may be traced back to the time when the country was under colonial control. In point of fact, the colonial administration of Nigeria made a few attempts between the years 1941 and 1947 to reform and reorganise the Nigeria Civil Service (Akinwunmi, 2022). These attempts took place during that time period. Reforms range from those that are quite broad in scope to those that are extremely narrow. In point of fact, “every dictatorship in Nigeria from the beginning put the topic of administrative reform on its genda” (Obasi, 2022). The process of reform can be divided into a number of distinct phases, beginning with the recognition of a problem and continuing through their execution and evaluation. To reform, on the other hand, is to improve something by making changes to it, whether it be a system, an organisation, or a law; or to make a modification that can be made to a social system, organisation, or anything else in order to improve or fix it [From the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 7th edition, published in 2005]. This indicates that “reforms” have the intention of transforming, restoring, rebuilding, amending, improving, removing deficiencies from, redressing, and bringing a better way of life into existence. According to what it seems to imply, it signifies that the reforms of the civil service were/are designed to modify, alter, restore, and make better whatever the existing problem may have been during an era of a certain period (Otu, 2022).

From the time before independence until after it, Nigeria has carried out a variety of administrative reforms. On October 1, 1960, Nigeria became a fully independent nation after adopting a constitution that called for a parliamentary form of government and granted a significant degree of autonomy to each of the country’s three regions. This event is significant in the country’s history. Since that time, numerous commissions, such as the Tudor Davies commission in 1945, the Harragin commission in 1946, the Gorsuch commission in 1954, the Mbanefo commission in 1959, the Morgan commission in 1963, the Adebo commission in 1971, and the Udoji commission in 1972–1974, have investigated the issue of civil service reform and made recommendations for how it should be carried out (Otu, 2022). The adoption of a new constitution in 1979 that was based on the one used in the United States marked a significant turning point. In 1985, a commission led by Dotun Philips made an effort to restructure the public service system. The 1988 Civil Service Reorganization Decree that was proclaimed by General Ibrahim Babangida had a significant impact on the organisation of the Civil Service in earlier years as well as the efficiency with which it operated.

According to Clarence (2022), after decades of military dictatorship, on May 29, 1999, Olusegun Obasanjo began a process of slow and methodical reform and reorganisation of the 1999 Civil Service. This process began after decades of military administration. Despite this, the civil service continues to be viewed as being unmoving and ineffective, and the efforts that have been made in the past by panels have had little to no impact.

The efficiency implications that the civil service reforms in Nigeria had brought to the service from the time before the country’s independence up till the present day are the primary focus of this study (Clarence, 2022).


However, the Olusegun Basanjo reforms that began in 1999 and continue to this day will be the focus of the discussion. This is due to the fact that the reform that took place in 1999 was the first civilian reform that took place following a lengthy period of military rule.


The history of Nigeria demonstrates that it is a multi-ethnic society, which is distinguished by distinct values, ethics, traditions, and views towards politics. This is evidenced by the fact that there are over 250 recognised ethnic groups in the country. The study will concentrate on and investigate the slowness of the civil service in reacting swiftly and efficiently to its aims as a consequence of the heterogeneity that exists across the nation (Desmond, 2022).

In addition, from the time of the colonial era right up until the present day, the civil service has had to deal with a variety of challenges on a daily basis. These challenges include the following:

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Inadequate Remuneration: In practise, this indicates that not only should civil servants be sufficiently compensated, but also that their wages should be consistent. Given the current precarious state of the economy and the rising expense of living, the salary that is offered within the Nigerian civil service has become severely insufficient. This is the situation that has arisen (Clarence, 2022).

Contrary to the Weberian merit criteria that were hypothesised, it has been alleged that recruitment into the civil service is based on considerations other than competence and merit. The federal character policy is the most apparent example of such a consideration.

Incorrect application of the Rules/Excessive Strictness in the Application of the Rules: Because of the hierarchical structure of the Nigerian civil service, which follows the pattern established by Weber, authority is concentrated at the highest levels. Even officers in the management cadre are not permitted to take the initiative on any problems that are brought to their attention by their subordinates. Right from below, there is a fear of taking action, which is why buck passing is the norm in the civil service. Since most matters are eventually always referred to the highest authority in the ministry or department for action or decision, this is because there is a fear of taking action right from below (Desmond, 2022).

It will be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain the best performance from employees in a service that is characterised by fear of loss of job. According to Weber, the ideal type of bureaucracy is characterised by a career system in which there is security of tenure. “civil servants as a whole regard their greatest benefit as being job security and pensions.”


The main objective of this study is to examine and analyse the reforms to the civil service in Nigeria. Specifically, the study seeks:

i.          To investigate the efficacy, efficiency, and accountability of the Nigerian civil service.

ii.        To examine whether the civil service has the capacity to integrate its authorities and responsibilities.

iii.      To examine the ways checks and balances are carried out in the civil service.


The following research questions will be answered in this study:

i.          How can the efficacy, efficiency, and accountability of the Nigerian civil service be guaranteed?

ii.        Does the civil service have the capacity to integrate its authorities and responsibilities?

iii.      What are the ways checks and balances are carried out in the civil service?


The purpose of this study is to investigate the significance of the Nigerian civil service to the achievement of public policy goals. In addition to eradicating existing problems, this research will act as a point of reference for future research in the social sciences and management disciplines.


This study focuses on the examination and analysis of the reforms to the civil service in Nigeria. Specifically, this study focuses on investigating the efficacy, efficiency, and accountability of the Nigerian civil service, examining whether the civil service has the capacity to integrate its authorities and responsibilities and examining the ways checks and balances are carried out in the civil service.


In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents. However, the researcher were able to manage these just to ensure the success of this study.

Moreover, the case study method utilized in the study posed some challenges to the investigator including the possibility of biases and poor judgment of issues. However, the investigator relied on respect for the general principles of procedures, justice, fairness, objectivity in observation and recording, and weighing of evidence to overcome the challenges.


Examination: A detailed inspection or study.

Analysis: Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better understanding of it.

Civil Service Reforms: Civil service reform is a deliberate action to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, professionalism, representativity and democratic character of a civil service, with a view to promoting better delivery of public goods and services, with increased accountability.



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