801 Forum One
The first influence on Nigerian public administration arose from British colonialism. The British colonized Nigeria and established British public service structure and procedures in the administration of the colonial territory. This however, influenced the growth and development of public administration in Nigeria. The colonial public administration managed the colonial territory (Nigeria) from about 1861 to 1954 when regional governments were created, and made the territory to operate federal structure. Thus, the public services of the then regional governments from 1954 to 1960, and up to 1966, were direct offshoots of the early British colonial public service administrative structure in terms of ethics or values, culture and tradition, training, procedures and spirit de corps associated with the public service (Onuoha, 1999).
Another influence on the public administration is Nigeria’s federal structure adopted in the 1954 Lyttleton Constitution. The constitution was largely responsible for the regionally oriented development of the public service administrative structure. The federal structure enabled the creation of federal and regional services.
The civil war of 1967 to 1970 was another significant influence on public administration in Nigeria. That enabled the military to establish what was called a result-oriented and unified grade structure public service for the entire country through the recommendations of the 1974 Public Service Review Commission (Udoji Commission). That public service reform has continued influence on the structure and procedures of public administration in Nigeria till date (Onuoha, 1999).
The management of public affairs in Nigeria is grossly afflicted by various abuses of administrative powers and malpractices which are described as violation of administrative responsibility. Bribery and corruption could be regarded as the worst acts against administrative responsibility in Nigeria. Many officials receive monetary or material gratification in the course of their official duties. For instance, some officials receive bribes before appointments into the public service are made, monetary inducements are made before licenses of various kinds are issued, and contracts are awarded after the awarding officers have been fully rewarded in money and materials, and so on. Apart from “kickbacks” and inflation of contract prices, there is yet another fraudulent practice of paying for contracts that were not executed at all. There are serious cases of examination malpractices by teachers as a result of monetary inducements. Indeed, bribery and corruption afflicts the whole public sector management
Dishonesty is quite associated with corruption, as dishonest official indulges in corrupt practices such as fraud, forgery, embezzlement of public funds, cheating, stealing or misappropriation of public property which are wide–spread in the Nigerian public service. Some scrupulous revenue officials of the State and Federal Governments collect taxes, duties, fee, etc, with fake receipts and such revenue is not paid into the public treasury but pocketed by individual officials. There are numerous cases of falsification of documents to satisfy selfish ends. Dishonesty is quite a serious canker–worm which wrecks the public services in Nigeria and which results in inefficiency and low productivity. As a developing nation and one which has undergone a long period of military administration, the Federal Republic of Nigeria has a wide spread of abuse of office in its public administration which adversely affects the efficiency of the administration. For corruption to be reduced public officials are given under the law certain limits of administrative discretion. In spites of this, some public officials do not take positive decisions by exercising the legitimate discretion. Sometimes the official fails to take the action even though the law empowers him/her to do so and indeed the situation calls for it in order to satisfy the interest of the public. Therefore, the failure of officials to have initiative could be highly risky. Whatever the case may be, administrative initiative is an essential requirement for organizational efficiency and high productivity. A public officer has a responsibility to contribute a maximum not a minimum of service to the organization which he/she serves. Hence, corruption in Nigeria is very much structural and for this to be reduced Nigeria must change its historical antecedents for corruption to be reduced, need we say more, Nigeria was founded on colonial corruption, so it takes the extermination of such colonial antecedent to reduce corruption in the Nigerian public sector.