Organization of the Nigeria Civil Service

Nigeria is a federal state and as a federal state the civil service of the federation is organized into federal civil service and state civil service. This means that at present we have 37 civil services in Nigeria. Both the civil service of the federal and the state government are structured vertically into ministries and department.

Each ministerial organization of the civil service is headed by a permanent secretary who is appointed by the chief executive of the federal government in the case of federal civil service and by the chief executive of the state in the case of the state civil service.

The permanent secretary is the administrative head of the ministry. He is also the chief accounting officer of the ministry while the ministers/commissioners are the political head of the ministry, charged with policy matters.

The 1988 civil service reform made the minister/commissioner the chief executive of the ministry and also the accounting officer. However the Abacha administration returned the responsibility of the accounting officer of the ministry to the permanent secretary.

Each ministry or extra-ministerial department is subdivided into eight departments namely

  • Department of personnel management
  • Finance and administration
  • Planning, research and statistics

And the other operation department depends on the size and nature of function of the ministry. Each department is headed by a director. The department is further divided into divisions which reflect broad professional areas within the department.

A division is headed by a deputy director and is further subdivided into branches. Each branch is headed by an assistant director. A branch is sub divided into section with Chief X as the head of the sections. (X refers to the specialist or the specialized function or the professional).

Each ministry within the governmental organization has a hierarchical structure with definite lines of communication and control, unity of command, defined relationship, definite span of control and inbuilt system of coordination and control.

This hierarchical structure tends to reduce the management of public affairs to mere routine process with set down procedure which is regulated by general order. The civil services both federal and state level are also organized into headquarters and field civil servant.

The headquarter officials who are normally located at the state headquarter in the case of the state government and federal headquarter in the case of federal government are responsible for policy formulation, coordination and the actual management function of the civil service within their respective ministries.

Field officials on the other hand are located at the local government headquarters and they serve as the real contact point between the people and the government.

There major function is the actual implementation of government policy, collection of vital data and information from the field for policy formulation and feed back for the government.

They are nearer to the people and they interact freely with the people, which enable them to determine their real interest, needs and problems which they include in their annual or monthly report to the respective parent ministries at the headquarters.

At the apex of each of the civil service structure (federal and state) is the head of service. He control and coordinate the activities of the entire civil service within the ministries and department.

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