The civil service is a body or department in the executive arm of government . It has the duty of assisting the executive in the planning and implementation of government policies.
The civil service is divided into departments called ministries. For example, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Finance, etc.
The political head and chief executive of a ministry is either a minister or a commissioner. The Director-General (Permanent Secretary) is the administrative head and the Accounting Officer of a ministry.
The civil service is different from the public service in terms of condition of service. A worker in the civil service is called a civil servant. The change from Permanent Secretary to Director-General effected in Ibrahim Babangida‘s administration was reverted back to Permanent Secretary in Abacha’s administration.
There are state civil service as well as federal civil service.
How Civil Service are Controlled in Nigeria
The civil service is subject to various forms of control. Civil servants may be censured by the legislature, disciplined by the executive, overruled by the courts and criticised by the public.
The legislature controls the civil service in several ways. It lays down the objectives of government, decides the institution that will implement them and (in conjunction with the executive) stipulates the method and policy to be followed.
The legislature approves the budget of the ministries and ensures that money is spent only for programmes approved by parliament. It may create or abolish administrative agencies and may even starve them of funds.
The executive exercises direct political and administrative control over the civil service. It coordinates the activities of government ministries and administrativeagencies and appoints ministers, permanent secretaries and other top civil servants.
The executive assigns duties to senior civil servants and instructs them about how to achieve government objectives.
It maintains discipline in the service and provides for the promotion, training and motivation of these officials.
The judiciary enforces the principle that the government and its employees are accountable to the law. In other words, it ensures that administrative acts are consistent with the law. It tries civil and criminal cases involving official misconduct and it may issue writs of mandamus to compel the performance of official duties and injunctions to srevent wrongful acts by civil servants.
Public criticism of civil servants and their performance, though an indirect control of the civil service, may lead to increased efficiency and instigate reforms of the service, because an indictment of the civil service is an indictment of the government.