Okonkwo Tasks Civil Servants On Improved Service Delivery

Dr. Obiora Okonkwo

Top businessman and political economist, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, has challenged civil servants in the country with leading the change in service delivery and bring government closer to the people by rendering qualitative and selfless service that renews public confidence in government systems and processes. 

He said it is only when the civil service re-invents itself with a deeper appreciation of its role as serving the public that it will be able to translate governments efforts at making sure that service is delivered selflessly and without hinderance.

Delivering a lecture titled ‘Leadership and Service in the Nigerian Democratic System’ at the 2019 retreat of the Southeast Zone of Heads of Federal Establishments and Parastatals Forum held at Golden Tulip Hotel, Agulu, Anambra State, Friday, Dr. Okonkwo called for a changed attitude towards service delivery in the country.

In the lecture delivered on his behalf by Chizoba Nnagboh, a lawyer, Dr. Okonkwo reminded the civil servants that for service to be qualitatively delivered, such services must come with respect for the customer's intelligence, time and pocket, adding that common courtesies and living up to professional standards, which include competence, ethics, professional demeanor and appearance, are necessary.

According to Dr. Okonkwo, teamwork built on values often create relationships that breed efficient systems that help the service provider to put the customer first in their behavior, strategy, plans, policies and operations and thus help create services that are exemplary.

“For example, respecting the customer both on your lunch break and when they are sitting in front of you in a meeting are simple ways of ensuring that they appreciate the service you render and make them always come back to you.” he said.

He warned that though the customer is always right, those that render service to the public should develop the habit of avoiding directly telling the customer they are wrong but see every complaint as an opportunity to learn and to improve.

He said “if you need to correct your client, please, do it in a positive and helpful way because you intend to keep him or her for a longer time,” adding that consumers of services rendered by government are always in need of more information and as such should be provided with all the information that they need to get about what they want to do.

He challenged civil and public servants to have a mental review of the reasons the Federal Government introduced Servicom and tasked them with ensuring that Nigeria moves forward instead of retrogressing on service delivery.

“In Nigeria, to achieve a good service delivery system, government created SERVICOM, which assignment was to simply ensure that consumers of services offered by government through civil and public servants, get their money’s worth. This became necessary because consumer feedback on service delivery was negative. Let us therefore look at ourselves again. Let us take an introspective look at ourselves and situate ourselves and our roles in the growth of service culture in Nigeria,” he stated.

Canvassing more improvement in service culture in the civil and public service, Dr. Okonkwo noted that a qualitative service culture must be built on qualitative leadership principles, norms, work habits and vision. He said such demands an improved service quality that comes with enhanced performance management systems.

“Ladies and gentlemen, when you think through the elements of service delivery, you would begin to open your mind to service delivery in the government of our country. You will see the missing link between leadership and service delivery in government. If you position yourself rightly in the mix, you will see the role you, as a civil servant or a public officer had played in designing, developing, and delivering the sort of service our country offers her citizens. This is where you come in. I am not here to indict you. I will rather invite you to locate yourself in the mix and introspectively review your role.

“From whatever you come up with, you should be the one to tell us if we have fared well. You should now be in a position to say if we need improvements or not, collectively or individually. You should now be the one to lead that change, that is, if you figure out there is need for change. The leadership level necessary for this change is not the President or the Governor or Local Government Chairman, neither is it the minister or permanent secretary. It is you. It is how you deliver the service for which you are a civil servant, or public officer, that will add to bring about the sort of society and country that we desire,” he stated.

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