I am highly delighted to welcome you all to the 2018 Meeting of the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) holding in the beautiful City of Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, the “Glory of all Lands”. First, my gratitude goes to the Almighty God for making this day a reality and for keeping us all in good health since our meeting last year. I also appreciate the grace He has given us to convene in 2018 to once again deliberate on issues concerning the welfare and conditions of service for Government workers in Nigeria.
- With great joy in my heart, I welcome delegates from eight (8) Trade Unions that make up the Joint Council. I also acknowledge in a special way, all our distinguished guests who have travelled from different parts of the country to attend this Opening Ceremony in solidarity with our commitment to improve the welfare of workers in the Public Service.
- Worthy of note and commendation, is the longstanding commitment of His Excellency, the Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, to host this meeting annually, because of his desire to foster a healthy relationship between Government and Labour. His Excellency, the Countryman Governor is a man of his words. His uncommon commitment to the welfare of Public Servants in Nigeria has been demonstrated once again in his provision of excellent facilities and logistics to ensure a conducive environment for the success of this meeting.
- I also commend the Secretary to the Bayelsa State Government, the Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, the Head of Service, the Permanent Secretary (Establishments), as well as other Officials of the States, for their various efforts in putting in place adequate arrangements for this meeting. Permit me also to seize this opportunity to thank the good people of Bayelsa State for their hospitality and the warm reception accorded the delegates since their arrival. Indeed we have received such great hospitality that we are already looking forward to coming back next year. I must say, I am proud to be a Bayelsan.
- I would like to acknowledge and appreciate the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, FCA, NPoM for her deep commitment to the welfare and well-being of Civil Servants and for approving that this meeting be held here, in the City of Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
- Your Excellency, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is important at this juncture to state that the issues regarding improved work conditions and welfare of Public Servants will always be of great importance to Government. It is for this reason, that the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation approved the theme: “Sustaining Industrial Harmony in the Public Sector – An Imperative for Achieving Federal Government Change Agenda for National Development” for all industrial relations activities for the year. Indeed, this theme is apt, especially at a time when concerted efforts are being made by Government to ensure improved welfare and conditions of service of Public Servants.
- The importance of workers welfare and well-being is underscored by its inclusion as one of the Eight (8) priorities areas in the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan 2017-2020. I am glad to inform you that concerted efforts are on-going to institutionalize key welfare initiatives for employees across the Federal Service. It is believed that the successful implementation of these initiatives as well as several other reform initiatives would transform and reposition the Federal Civil Service to a “Modern Public Service Organization that Provides World-Class Service for Sustainable National Development”. It is expected that State Governments would take a cue from the several initiatives being implemented by the Federal Government, to replicate same in the various States.
- Since the re-establishment of the Service Welfare Office in August, 2017, several programmes have been initiated and are at different stages of implementation.Your Excellency, distinguished delegates, permit me to take a few minutes to intimate you of some of these programmes.
- It is a known fact that preparation for exiting the Service is a crucial stage in the life of Civil Servants, which requires adequate support to ensure smooth transition into retirement. To ensure this smooth transition, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation has approved the development of an Exit Management Programme for Officers in the Federal Civil Service. The Programme, has several individual components including the Pre-Retirement Training Scheme and the Federal Civil Service Post-Retirement Service Scheme. The Pre-Retirement training is to prepare Civil Servants for seamless transition by supporting them to acquire skills that would enable them earn an income whilst in Service and beyond. The Pre-Retirement Training Scheme has been piloted with about 200 staff and full implementation would commence shortly. The Training exposes participants to the Agriculture Value Chain and encourages them to begin Agribusiness. The Post-Retirement Service Scheme is to ensure continuous utilization of the expertise of Retirees in the Service and for national development.
- Another initiative of the Service Welfare Office is a proposal for the establishment of a Rewards and Recognition System in the Federal Civil Service. The Programme is aimed at institutionalizing a Rewards and Recognition System in order to encourage and motivate Staff for optimum performance and enhance their productivity for more efficient and effective Service delivery. The Programme links incentives and rewards to performance and productivity.
- People with Disabilities are a vulnerable group which the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation wishes to integrate and give priority attention to enable them participates maximally in all Service activities despite their disability. To this end, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation has approved a Survey of People With Disabilities in the Federal Civil Service. The survey is to be launched on the 3rd of December, 2018 to mark the International Day of People With Disabilities in Public Service with a view to identifying their needs and ensuring their full inclusion in Service activities.
- The Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) Programme is the flagship programme of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. The mandate of the Programme is to provide quality and affordable housing for Civil Servants. The Service Welfare Office has worked assiduously with its partners for the success of this Programme and I am pleased to announce, that our first beneficiaries are expected to move into their houses, in December, 2018.
- Your Excellency, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, you will agree with me, that the institutionlisation of these and all the other welfare programmes is critical, if they are to be sustained. To this end, all the welfare and benefit packages for Civil Servants are to be documented in a proposed Welfare Policy.
- Now to the highlight of today. You will recall that at the last Joint Meeting, the issue of Constitutions of Councils I, II and III and Joint Council which has lingered for more than a decade was raised. At that meeting, I promised to do my best to see to the resolution of the problem. I am honoured to inform you that the issue is finally laid to rest, as the Constitutions would shortly be presented later on in this Ceremony by His Excellency Henry Seriake Dickson, Governor of Bayelsa State. I wish to specially acknowledge the contributions of the Secretary to Council, immediate past, Mr. Anthony Okhamera and present, Mr. Alfred Abahand the other members of the Committee approved by Council, who worked assiduously to make it a reality. I thank you all for your understanding and support in this regard. Our special thanks also goes to WAPIC Insurance Plc, who bore the cost of the publications as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
- Distinguished delegates, the Federal Government would continue to make positive efforts to improve the welfare and conditions of service of Public Servants. I therefore, urge you to give Government at all levels the necessary support and cooperation towards ensuring industrial peace and harmony in the Service. In this regard,both Government and Trade Union sides are called upon to continuously collaborate and embrace the principles of collective bargaining and mutual respect at all meetings.I also encourage you to embrace the tenets of integrity, merit, performance and transparency in the conduct of Government business in consonance with the ethics of the Public Service and for the overall national interest.
- Finally, I charge you all to sustain your commitment to Council in order to realize an improved Public Service through constructive contributions to the issues at stake, with a view to making far reaching decisions that would impact positively on the Service and its workers. It is my expectation, that this meeting would not only be stimulating and participatory, but would be an opportunity for a re-evaluation of any unresolved issues and all other matters at stake. This we can do by contributing positively and arriving at resolutions that would strengthen Employer-Employee relations, enhance workers’ productivity and complement Governments’ efforts in national development.
- I sincerely thank His Excellency and the members of the State Executive Council, all Delegates and Stakeholders, for making this event a reality. I wish you successful deliberations and God bless you all.