Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Current State of the Economy and Obafemi Awolowo University Students' Assessment of the Image of the Nigerian Civil Service

Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Current State of the Economy and Obafemi Awolowo University Students' Assessment of the Image of the Nigerian Civil Service

Article excerpt


The objectives of this paper were three-fold. One, to examine the students' perceptions of civil service employment in Nigeria; two, to assess influence of their perception on attitudes toward the civil Service; and three, to examine implications of emerging attitude for civil service jobs on economic development. The study adopted qualitative research technique of focus group discussion. The study revealed variations in the work plans of the students, and notably, aversion towards civil service jobs. It also examined the sustainability of the students' negative attitude towards civil service employment. The paper concluded that the students had negative perception and image of the civil service and the emerging negative attitude could be sustained by the availability of job opportunities made possible by improvement in Information and Communication Technology (ICT).


In the contemporary times, Nigerian graduates tend to have aversion for jobs in the Civil Service. This study sought to examine the underlying factors and to project into the future consequences for Nigeria's economy if the attitude of aversion persists. The negative attitude towards the Civil Service is in contrast with what obtained before 1999, when President Olusegun Obasanjo began the labour reforms.

The labour reforms were to reduce the bloated Civil Service of almost three decades, beginning from 1970. The prominent reasons accounting for the unnecessarily large Civil Service workforce are: one, many Nigerians believed that employment in the Civil Service was the only opportunity, open to all, to share in the national cake; others belonged to the elites. The work ethos, therefore, did not promote hard work; the thinking was that civil servants were merely enjoying citizens' rights. Two, the civilian regimes within the period created sinecure jobs to please political party loyalists. Lastly, the use of age limit while considering applicants for employment in the Civil Service was not pronounced.

However, this period of seemingly unrestrained employment into the Civil Service evolved from a period of aversion as well. The introduction of salaried employment by the British Colonial Government was, at first, not accepted by Nigerians. Wage earning was still alien to many Nigerians; and this and other reasons such as low level of education, made the Britons to dominate the Nigerian Civil Service. Many Nigerians then, despised working for another person or institution, unless when governed by customs. To the villagers, wage earning employment usually connoted degradation from the independent status of a farmer to that of a hireling (Ogunbameru, 1984; Yesufu, 1984; and Mgbe, 1993). Yesufu (1984) pointed out that the Colonial Government had to enact Forced Labour Act to draw people out to work for wages and salaries. They created need for cash by introducing taxes and made payment compulsory for Nigerian adults.

This trend can be captured by the basic assumption of cyclical theories, which emphasizes a revisit to the point of departure or take-off when change is discussed. The trend of attitude towards the civil service has moved from hatred to deep interest and then towards hatred again.

Workers' downsizing exercises of the year 2000 to date, occurring as a result of high costs of keeping large workforce, seemed to reintroduce negative attitude towards salaried work, especially the Civil Service. Agboola (2010) reported that more than 1.7 million workers lost their jobs in a period of seven years - 2001-2008. Many of the said workers found succor in okada riding while others are looking elsewhere for survival. The accompanying shock and life's disruption following lay-off make some Nigerians to prefer selfemployment. Preference for self employment is evident in some smallscale or zero-employee businesses emerging in the contemporary Nigerian societies. At this juncture, some questions that are considered pertinent are: one, why should research interest be focused on the Nigerian Civil Service? …

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