Former Vice President, Solomon Ekuma Berewa has recently spoken on the Civil Society’s Perception of a Public Sector Performance Management System at the British Council Management Express Forum sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank.
This is his first public appearance and lecture after loosing the 2007 Presidential elections.
The former VP noted that Civil Society Organizations have not often publicize the performance of the public sector organization or the management system; and that he was not aware that any of them have taken up any issue relating to the adverse perception of the performance management system or follow the matter to its logical conclusion.
Speaking on the principles of a properly organized public sector management, Solomon Berewah explained that the public sector being a service oriented organization must have well defined roles and objectives with an established structure, hierarchy and systems of operations; and it is through those structures that the public service operates and is expected to provide effective and efficient service to the public. He stated that through its systems, the public sector is required to do things right for the benefit of the public “it is for this reason and this reason alone that any public sector organization exists; and it is therefore expected to employ the best practices to achieve these desired social objectives.”
Continuing, he reiterated that for the public sector to be able to carry out its assigned roles successfully, the sector should have in place a well established system to be recognized and adhered to by all the operatives in the organization; and must have a clear vision and mission, which is known, understood and adhered to by all. “After all, the Civil Service for example which is the major public sector organization is based on elaborate rules and regulations, most of which dates back to the early colonial period. This prescribes in my new detail the system by which the Civil Service is to operate and these rules and regulations have over the years being treated like the laws of Moses as nobody changes them even when they have outlived the purpose for which they were established” he said.
He thus posed that they become outdated and inappropriate to the changing circumstances that occur and to address the new responsibility the public sector necessarily assume from time to time.
Whatever might be the reason, the creation of ad-hoc rules and regulations would bring the public sector management into recourse, confusion and uncertainty in the operations of the system.
He importantly observed that the term ‘manager’ or ‘management’ are traditionally used in the context of public sector management which would give the professional role which the manager should possess and should be confined to business enterprises and not included in the roles that Permanent Secretaries perform. “The Permanent Secretary seems to be confined to performing administrative or fixing roles and the term ‘manager’ or ‘management’ should be reserved to be used only in the context of organizations which have profit making as their primary objective.
The former VP outlined that a good head or manager must not isolate him or her self; and should be in contact with the juniors and spend time getting the subordinates to learn and should bear in mind that every body likes complement. They should also try to trust their subordinates and delegate certain functions to them and should be fair to all.
What he said he expected the Civil Society to do was to play a watch dog role and that their activities should not be stopped and should raise issues of public interest. He said they should be a crusader on behalf of the voiceless and to specifically take up issues to its logical conclusion; organize themselves into an effective group and should be independent. He also said that Civil Society Organizations must be capacitated and should stay off partisan politics.
By Ishmael Bayoh