Nepotism And The Nigerian Civil Service
By Abdullahi Ahmad Bamalli
The term Nepotism is a practice that refers to the act of favouring family members, friends, or acquaintances in employment, promotion, or other benefits, often at the expense of more qualified or deserving individuals. It is a ubiquitous problem in many organisations, including the Nigerian civil service as a case study, and it has far-reaching negative effects on the performance, efficiency, and integrity of the service. In this article, the negative effects of nepotism in the Nigerian civil service will be examined.
First and foremost, the Nigerian civil service is a critical component of the country’s governance structure, responsible for policy implementation, public administration, and service delivery. It is supposed to be a merit-based system, where individuals are recruited, promoted, and retained based on their qualifications, experience, and performance.
However, in reality, nepotism has become a pervasive problem in the service, with political leaders, senior bureaucrats, and other influential figures often using their positions to favour their relatives and associates.
Nepotism in the Nigerian civil service has a huge negative effect on the erosion of professionalism. In this regard, professionalism refers to a system where individuals adhere to ethical and moral standards, are accountable for their actions, and prioritise the interests of the organisation and the public over their personal interests.
In addition, when nepotism is rampant, individuals tend to prioritise the interests of their family members or associates over the interests of the organisation or the public. This results in a culture of corruption, favouritism, and entitlement, where individuals feel entitled to benefits and privileges based on their connections rather than their performance or contribution to the organisation. This, in turn, erodes the integrity and credibility of the civil service, making it difficult for the public to trust and rely on the service.
Sequel to that, being nepotism as the practice of favouring family members or friends in employment or other types of opportunities, it can obviously have several negative impacts on the Nigerian civil service. Some of these negative impacts include:
1. Reduced merit-based recruitment: Nepotism often means that less qualified individuals are hired for civil service positions over more qualified candidates. This can lead to reduced quality of service delivery and inefficiency in the civil service.
2. Corruption: Nepotism can lead to corruption in the civil service, as individuals who are hired through nepotistic means may feel obligated to return the favour by participating in corrupt activities.
3. Reduced diversity: Nepotism can limit the diversity of the civil service workforce, as hiring decisions are often based on personal relationships rather than qualifications or merit. This can lead to a lack of representation of certain groups and perspectives in the civil service.
4. Reduced trust in the civil service: Nepotism can erode public trust in the civil service, as it may be perceived as unfair and corrupt. This can undermine the legitimacy of the civil service and limit its effectiveness in serving the public.
Overall, nepotism can have a significant negative impact in the Nigerian civil service, both in terms of its ability to deliver quality services to the public and its reputation and legitimacy in the eyes of the public.
Accumulatively, Now a days in Nigeria when it comes to seeking a job by most of the graduates or individuals that are qualified became an issue most especially if they have no connection, because whenever they go to some specific government organisations to seek for a job they would be asked about the person who sent them, a referral letter or phone number of that person and in this case if it happens to be the opposite without having the rightful connection where nepotism will secure the job for them then they would lose the job instantly.
Moreover, in real sense nepotism can present several challenges to graduates seeking employment opportunities in Nigeria, because it can limit the number of job openings available to graduates, as positions may be filled by family members or acquaintances of current employees and it can also make graduates to find themselves competing for jobs with individuals who have less experience or qualifications, but who have an advantage due to family connections and can easily get job in favour of nepotism and free from any stress or challenges in the process.
Another challenge graduates may experience due to the negative effect of nepotism in Nigerian civil service is that, nepotism can limit growth opportunities for graduates within a company or organization, as family members or acquaintances of current employees may be given priority for promotions or other advancement opportunities and due to the latter graduates may become demotivated and disengaged if they feel that their hard work and achievements are not being recognized or valued due to the prevalence of nepotism in the workplace.
In this regard, nepotism can create a negative work environment and damage the morale and motivation of other employees who feel that they are not being given a fair chance to succeed. So this leads nepotism to be detrimental to the career prospects and professional development of graduates, as well as to the success and culture of the organisations in which they seek employment.
Nepotism can also lead to resentment and division. This unequal and unfair treatment will make a lot of qualified people feel that since they are not related to the person in charge, they will never get a fair chance to be employed.
Likewise, Such issues for declining to appoint the rightful and qualified people and only appoint those who are unqualified in favour of nepotism creates many lapses and unprofessionalism in the Nigerian civil service which always take the specific organisation and the country backward.
The basic fact is that, any organisation or workplace that has the highest number of employees in favour of nepotism will definitely turnout to be toxic, poor productivity and engagement, drop employee satisfaction, higher employee turnover and a lot of negative outcomes that will damage or tarnish the organisation’s reputation.
Nepotism causes a lot of damage in the Nigerian civil service, because a lot of qualified people are missing out on job opportunities and also the specific organisation is crippling from the inside and moving backward due to nepotism and for refusing to appoint the right people for the job.
There’s no doubt nepotism is amplifying the high rate of terrorism in Nigeria, because people who know that they are qualified and have the excellent qualifications to be employed are losing the opportunities, while their opportunities have been seized and given to others in favour of nepotism who are totally not equal to the task. So this scenario can provoke them and if care is not properly taken they will deviate and commit themselves into something evil to survive just to provide their needs illegally which will become an uncontrollable obstacle to the nation.
Conclusively, the Nigerian government needs to strengthen its institutions to promote merit-based selection and reduce the influence of personal connections in government appointments. This includes creating independent bodies to oversee recruitment processes and ensuring that appointments are based on qualifications and experience rather than personal connections.
The Nigerian civil service commission should focus more on the process of employment in the sense that employment and rewards should not be given because a person is one’s family member. It is supposed to be based on merit and worth. Nigeria strives to become a developed nation, this is impossible when nepotism is allowed to take the centre stage in the decision-making of people. This should also begin at a higher level to the lowest possible level. Relationships should never influence the choice of appointment and credits.
The government should promote transparency and accountability in all government appointments. This includes publishing the criteria for appointments, the names of those who are being considered, and the reasons for their selection. This will help to ensure that appointments are made on merit and not on personal connections.
When an appointment or credit is to be given, there should be a panel set to appoint the best candidate. The person from which the appointment or credit stemmed from his table should be out of the nomination process and should have no influence whatsoever in the whole process so that the nominees or candidates are chosen strictly based on merit and nothing else.
It is also worth screening the panellists also to ensure that they do not have their own favourites in order not to influence their judgments and this should start at the top. When there is an opening for hiring, there should be an outlined job description that will cover the qualifications of the applicants.
Anyone who doesn’t meet up with the requirement should not be hired at all no matter the relationship of such a person to the organisation. When this is done, it will curb unnecessary appointments of unqualified personnel who will require long hours of training before they could get the job done.
Most companies have taken the lead in excluding family members from promos and opportunities. This is very effective. Humans will remain humans and the tendency to compromise in favour of a family member will be there, especially when they are on board (this is not a bad trait, however, but it should not influence choices in getting jobs done or giving merits).
Preferably, organisations should be structured in a way that family members are given the strictest chances to join so that when they do, it will be by merit. Relatives and family members should be told when there is an opportunity that they qualify for, and they should be told at the same time that they will likely be given the job strictly by merit. If this statement is made and the party involved sees the seriousness of the statement, the family member will buckle up and not depend on the connection but will do everything morally right to earn the seat or position.
It is also advisable that family members work somewhere else other than the place of work of other family members. A work environment should never be a place where nepotism should have its grip lest it cripples the whole system. And as a boss, never employ two relatives in your workplace.
There also needs to be a public awareness campaign to educate Nigerians on the negative effects of nepotism on society. The campaign should highlight the importance of merit-based selection and the dangers of appointing unqualified individuals to positions of power.
Nigeria is a diverse country with different ethnic and religious groups. The government should encourage diversity in all government appointments to promote national unity and reduce the perception of nepotism.
The government should support the growth of the private sector by creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. This will reduce the dependence on government jobs and reduce the influence of personal connections in government appointments.
Nigeria needs to enforce its anti-nepotism laws to deter individuals from appointing family members and friends to positions of power. This will help to promote transparency and accountability in government appointments and reduce the prevalence of nepotism.
Ultimately, addressing nepotism in Nigeria will require a sustained effort from both the government and the public to promote transparency, accountability, and merit-based selection in all government appointments.