Nigerian government signs skills deal

By on 03/05/2017
Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, founder and chairman, Africa Initiative for Governance (Image courtesy: Africa Initiative for Governance)

The Nigerian Civil Service has formed a private-public partnership (PPP) with the Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG), a private sector-led, Nigerian-Ghanaian initiative dedicated to improving the quality of public sector leadership in Africa.

Under the PPP, AIG will support Nigeria’s Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) with skills support and funding – concentrating particularly on fields prioritised in the OHCSF’s 2017-19 strategic plan, which include culture, technology, entrepreneurship and welfare administration.

AIG was founded by Nigerian lawyer and banker Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, with the goal of building leadership skills through online learning, scholarships and awards: the organisation is funding five talented young people each year to study at Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government. The intiative has recruited a panel of advisers including former Nigerian president chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Ghanaian finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta, and the dean of Lagos Business School Dr Enase Okonedo. In February, AIG announced its appointment of Chienye Ogwo, the former head of change management at the Union Bank of Nigeria, as its new chief executive.

In an interview published on AIG’s website, Aig-Imoukhuede says that he was “I was inspired by Lee Kuan Yew’s transformation of Singapore”. That country’s first prime minister, he said, recruited “a critical mass of highly capable men and women into the public service who took responsibility for Singapore’s development from third-world to first-world. I’m confident that if we have the same high calibre talent in Nigeria’s public sector as we have in our private sector, Nigeria’s story will be totally different… AIG is a platform by which we can build the needed critical mass of high quality leaders.”

Dr Tunji Olaopa, executive Vice-Chairman at Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy and a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, told Global Government Forum that he believes the partnership can be successful.

“One of the biggest challenges of reform implementation in the past has been that Nigerian governments have not recognised that reform is costly,” he said. “The AIG arrangement to mobilise technical and funding support is a positive move in the right direction.”

Olaopa issued a warning about one threat to the project, saying: “What remains a concern is what I call the conception-reality gap, which usually bedevils a private sector inspired intervention in public sector renewal schemes. The tendency is to deploy private sector tested solutions without recognising that public administration has strong conceptual underpinnings that draw heavily on theory, insider’s expert knowledge and best practices.

However, he argued that “the public service is reformable if there is sincerity and openness to be appropriately guided.”

Aig-Imoukhuede, who chairs AIG, said of the new PPP: “We greatly commend the efforts of the Presidency and the OHCSF towards impactful public sector reforms, and are enthused by our shared conviction that such reforms are vital to the sustained growth and development of any economy or nation.

“AIG is pleased to pioneer and harness private sector support to the government in this area. Collaboration between AIG and OHCSF also extends to enabling deserving public servants to access world-class training in order to enhance competency and performance.”

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See also:

The innovation coming out of Africa

Nigeria’s top officials are warned over corruption, again

Nigerian Civil Servants Told To Speed Up Audit Responses

Nigeria announces new in-country training scheme for all civil servants

 

About Glen Munro

Glen Munro has worked as a journalist for a wide variety of trade and consumer titles, including the Daily Express, the Independent and the Evening Standard. Topics he has covered during his career include business issues, personal finance, travel and African and Caribbean affairs.

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