Since her appointment as substantive National Coordinator/Chief Executive Officer of SERVICOM about a month ago, Mrs. Nnenna Akayemeli has taken up the challenge to raise the tempo of activities of the agency to a higher plain with a view to give it national recognition and acceptability. And as one of the first steps towards achieving the set goal, she hosted editors of media organisations to an interactive session during which she exchanged valuable ideas on her intention to use SERVICOM to drive the Federal Government’s policy on service delivery and efficiency. Executive Editor AMOS DUNIA, who attended the interactive session reports.
It was the first interactive meeting between editors of media organisations and the National Coordinator/Chief Executive Officer of SERVICOM, Mrs. Nnenna Akajemeli and her management team which turned out beneficial to both sides as far as exchange of ideas and information sharing is concern.
In setting the tone for the discussion, Mrs. Akajemeli took the editors through the SERVICOM policy thrust and goals, saying as part of the new initiative to enhance service delivery in both the public and private sectors, the SERVICOM Office has strategized the use of ‘Mystery Shopping’ for objectivity in its evaluation exercise, adding that the initiative involves SERVICOM Staff accessing the service of an MDA under-cover to have a “moment of truth” so as to establish what ordinary citizen experience in the cause of getting service.
In this wise, she assured that the agency would monitor the progress made by ministries and agencies in performing their obligations under SERVICOM and reports such to CEOs of Organizations and the President through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. She therefore enumerated the core mandate of SERVICOM to include; “To make service delivery a subject of national discourse with the aim to raise citizens’ awareness of the significance of service delivery in their lives as well as stimulate them to challenge service failures and demand for quality service as their constitutional right. These can only be achieved with proper collaboration with the media.”
Not done, Akayemeli explained that SERVICOM’s critical role as the engine for the Service Delivery initiative of the Federal Government calls for a greater engagement and collaboration with the media because of the importance of the media to national growth and development through its statutory responsibility of informing, educating and enlightening citizens to enable them take informed actions and make informed decisions.
In her words; “It is worthy to note that under the present administration, there has been a very significant improvement in executive support to SERVICOM. This has rejuvenated the aforementioned activities of the SERVICOM Office which are geared towards refocusing public service institutions for better service delivery and increasing citizens’ awareness.”
The SERVICOM National Coordinator further said that as part of its renewed mandates, the agency also carries out independent surveys of the services provided to citizens by the MDAs, their adequacy, their timeliness, customer satisfaction and widely publicize the results to keep citizens fully informed as well as public awareness of the damaging effects of service failure to the Nigeria society and social structures
The mandates according to Akayemeli also include promoting attitudes by which citizens would recognize the need to challenge service failure as their civil rights as well as responsibility, adding that to fully ensure compliance, SERVICOM operates through a network of Ministerial SERVICOM Units (MSUs) established in all MDAs to refocus every institution in the public service towards better service delivery. This way, she emphasized SERVICOM aims to improve Nigerian Public Services by building the capacity of Public Servants through training and support to the MDAs to implement service improvement plans to demonstrate how services can be improved in practice.
Commenting on the perception of SERVICOM by public servants as “alien” initiative and a toothless watchdog, which has led to resistance to change within the public service (the supply side) while the general public (the demand side) is largely ignorant or do not seem to know how to access quality service, Akayemeli noted that many see the brand as a mere political initiative of a previous administration thereby posing a huge task in changing the mindset and attitudes of Nigerians but said the narrative is changing.
Ownership and performance monitoring
Mrs. Akajemeli explained that within the MDAs, there is little or no ownership of ministerial SERVICOM Units (MSUs) by some CEOs, as the MSUs are not appropriately positioned to perform their roles within their organisations just as she lamented the lack of legislative instrument (Act of Parliament) on the execution of the mandates of SERVICOM which she noted has affected the effectiveness and sustainability of the Office, saying that attempts to have the SERVICOM Bill enacted in the last two legislative sessions have not been successful.
The National Coordinator advocated for adequate and regular funding for the SERVICOM Office to enable it achieve its mandates in order to make much impact in facilitating the provision of quality service delivery by all MDAs to the citizens Accordingly, she said provision of an Act through executive bill for the establishment of the SERVICOM Office to enable it function more effectively is required even as she said that the leadership of the Intergovernmental committees of the two legislative Houses have expressed willingness to support the process of reviving the bill again.
On the overall, Akayemeli commended the demonstration of political will by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to pursue a service delivery agenda that will ensure that all Chief Executive Officers/Ministers produce, own and implement service charters as instrument for providing efficient and effective services
And as part of the way forward, the National Coordinator said revisiting of SERVICOM strategic plan for immediate implementation of quick fixes that would improve public service delivery, so as to make agency more visible through the media in addition to massive public awareness campaign on the need for citizens to challenge service failures in MDAs and to constructively engage with the media and civil societies to bring to the fore issues bordering on service delivery in the public sector is key.
Akayemeli further said; “Regular reporting of service delivery status of MDAs by SERVICOM Office to the Federal Executive Council to make MDAs more accountable to the President and the people. Sustained advocacy for state level SERVICOM for replication of success of the Cross River State pilot Project
SERVICOM was established in 2004 by Former President Olusegun Obasanjo after a three-day Special Presidential Retreat on Service Delivery with the objective to meet the challenge of nationwide service failure as depicted in a diagnostic survey, Delivering Service in Nigeria: A Roadmap: whose findings were fully discussed at a Retreat, especially its conclusions that Government services were not serving the people and Services were inaccessible, poor in quality and indifferent to citizens’ needs.
The National Coordinator said part of the success stories is the establishment of ministerial SERVICOM Units in MDAs to spearhead the service delivery initiative in various organisations, adding that to strengthen the Units and make them very effective, SERVICOM Office carries out high level advocacy visits to Ministers and CEOs of MDAs to solicit support and ensure ownership of Initiative among other things.