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Government Studies: Definition, Objectives, Structure And Functions Of The Civil Service

Nigerian Civil Service

Definition Of The Civil Service

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.

Public corporations, the Police, Armed Forces, etc, are not part of the civil service but public service. 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 Babangida’s administration was reverted to permanent secretary in Abacha’s administration. There are state civil service as well as federal civil service.

Characteristics Of The Civil Service

1. Impartiality: Civil servants are expected to be fair and just to any government in power. They must show faith in any government.

2. Permanence: It is an institution that does not change with the government. Workers equally enjoy a permanent tenure of office.

3. Anonymity: A civil servant is not expected to reveal or speak to the Press unless authorised by the minister or Director-General. Credit or failure of the government on any issue is not blamed on the civil servants but the minister.

4. Neutrality: Workers in the service are not expected to engage themselves in partisan politics unless they resign their appointment.

5. Expertise: Experts are produced in the field of administration. This is because they put in long years of service.

6. Merit: Employment is based on merit. This will enhance efficiency in their areas of performance.

The Structure Of The Nigerian Civil Service

The following are some of the structures of the Nigerian civil service

1. Administrative class: This is the highest class and they are mostly Director Generals, Deputy Director Generals, Principal Officers, etc. They are mostly graduates of different fields with many years of experience in the service. They are involved in policy making, advising the ministers or commissioners, and in other areas of administration.

2. The professional class: They are mainly recruited as professionals of different category. For example lawyers, doctors, engineers, etc.

3. The executive class: They are senior executives, executive officers, assistant executive officers, etc. They are holders of first degree, H.N.D., etc. They are responsible for the implementation of the policies of the government.

4. The clerical class: They are school certificate holders and are mostly clerical officers, clerical assistants typist, etc. They are involved in routine work like moving of files from one desk to other, etc.

5. Messengerial class: They are mostly cleaners, messengers, drivers, etc. They are either to tidy up the office, drive official vehicles or deliver official messages.

Nigerian civil service

Functions Of The Civil Service

1. Formulation of policies: They formulate policies and these are part of the objectives of the government.

2. Implementation of policies: It ensures that the policies made are executed.

3. Preparation of the budget: lt prepares the government’s yearly statement of expected income and expenditure.

4. They draft bills: These bills are prepared by some experts in the ministry of justice. The executive presents these bills to the legislature

5. They make bye-laws: The power to make bye-laws is made possible through delegated legislation. A senior civil servant can make an order or laws.

6. They advise the government: They advise the government on issues facing the country for a better result.

7. They provide stability: They ensure continuity of government and this makes for stability.

8. They prepare answers to parliamentary questions: Ministers in a parliamentary system defend the policies of government through this preparation.

9. They inform the people: They educate the public about actions and policies of the government.

10. Keeping of documents: The civil official documents that are relevant to the government of the day.

11. Handles Correspondence: Civil service handles correspondence, bulletin and forms relating to the government.

12. National and International Conferences: It provides officials to attend national and international conferences and seminars on behalf of government.

13. Quasi-judicial functions:The civil service performs quasi-judicial functions.

14. Rules and Regulations: The civil service makes rules and regulations for its internal working.

15. Revenue Generation: It generates revenue for the government.

Thanks for reading,

  1. Chris; C. Debie; Essential Government For Senior Secondary Schools; Tonad Publishers
  2. Ali Sani Mahmud BABURA; “Leading Public Service Innovation: The Case Of The Nigerian Civil Service And The Federal Civil Service Commission”; 2003; Federal Civil Service Commission.
  3. Evelyn Bankole; Get to know main functions of Nigerian civil service;

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Cite this article as: Teslim Omipidan. (January 17, 2019). Government Studies: Definition, Objectives, Structure And Functions Of The Civil Service. OldNaija. Retrieved from

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