Personnel Management In The Local Government Systems

Introduction

Human Resource, capacity building and staff welfare are the basic roles of the personnel management. The universal acceptance of the critical role of personnel in the achievement of organizational goals and the realization and appreciation of the various exogenous and endogenous variables which inform, determine, order and finally condition personnel activities, led to the establishment of Department of Personnel Administration, personnel management, or Human Resource Management in any viable organization (Okoli, 2000). These personnel management/Administrative units are traditionally saddled specific functions (Onyishi, 2002) among which are staff placement. The importance of personnel (Human Resources) in the attainment of organizational objectives cannot be over-emphasized (Onah, 2002) as it has been amplified by Ofoegbu (1985) who averred that “A firm can mobilize all its capital inputs and still be out of production. The decision to start capital mobilization is personnel management decision. The assemblage of the inanimate factors of production into a single, coherent and operational production system is a human act, conceived by human genius and realized by human efforts”. Hence the critical processes of determining goals, making investment choices, directing work effort on a day-to-day basis, maintaining and servicing equipment and so on, fall squarely on the personnel of an organization. It therefore follows that people are the main instruments for the realization of organizational objectives. Having established the importance of personnel, it is necessary to stress that in service organizations such as local governments, the role of personnel in the attainment of goals becomes all the more significant hence local government is a labour intensive organization and to the extent that these labours are well organized and motivated, to the same extent, the local government can successfully fulfill all its numerous responsibilities (Onah, in Ezeani and Nwankwo, 2002). To remedy the ills of local government in Nigeria, one should strive to remedy its personnel problems as enhanced personnel management promotes and ensures healthy local government administration. The main thrust of this paper therefore is to identify the problems of personnel management in Nigerian local government administration; to examine the contributions of the personnel managers to the personnel problems of Nigerian local government and ascertain the major strategies the personnel managers of Nigerian local government Administration.

Theoretical Framework

Good organizational structure alone, does not guarantee enhanced performance and increased productivity but with well-managed personnel. Personnel are therefore, a critical factor in the attainment of organizational goals. This is because all the organizational activities are initiated and determined by the persons who make up that institution, as plants, offices, computers, automated equipments and all else that a modern firm uses are unproductive except for human effort and direction. However, these abilities and capabilities of the personnel to contribute significantly to the attainment of organizational goals have contemporary, been hindered and hampered by some issues that are amenable. The local government as an institution cannot be exempted. The importance of personnel in the local government cannot be over-emphasized, so it becomes very essential that the personnel of the local government should be judiciously managed to achieve the goals of the local government.

The Local Government

The expediency for the creation of local government anywhere in the world stems from the need to facilitate development at the grassroots. The importance of local government is a function of its ability to generate sense of belongingness, safety and satisfaction among its populace. All forms of government regimes or political systems have so far ensured the attainment of this goal. Such strategy for ensuring national administrative development and political efficacy is found in the concept and practice of local government. Whatever is the mode of government, local government has been essentially regarded as the path to, and guarantor of, national integration, administration and development. Central to the creation of local government, however, is its ability to facilitate an avenue through which government and the people intermix, relate and more quickly than any other means resolve or dissolve issues that may have heated the system. Local government has been perceived as a panacea for the diverse problems of the diverse people with diverse culture.

As important as this tier of government has been, there seem to be some impediments that have been infringing on its performance and functions in recent times. These impediments range from political but undue interference of the higher levels of government to inadequacy of well-trained and qualified personnel. Usman (2010) sees local government as a system of public administration at a local level, charged with the responsibility of bringing the people at the grassroots closer to the government. He however, regretted that a critical survey of local governments in Nigeria today slows at most the same scene; that is, they are living in the shadow of the federal government that have resulted to the abysmal failure of the system.

The concept of local government as observed by Dumadu (2008) involves a philosophical commitment to democratic participation in the governing process at the grassroots level. This implies legal and administrative decentralization of authority, power and personnel by a higher level of government to a community with a will of its own, performing specific functions as within the wider national framework.

There are various definitions of local government by scholars and practitioner or administrators alike observed Ezeani (2006). Public Administration (1976) defines local government as: ….a political sub-division of a nation or (in a federal system) state, which is constituted by law and has substantial control of local affairs, including the powers to impose taxes or to exert labour for prescribed purpose. The governing body of such an entity is elected or otherwise locally selected.

The guidelines for a reform of local government in Nigeria define local government as:

The problems of local government are multifarious and that explains why in spite of the reforms, the problems are unabated. We shall look at three of these perennial problems of the local government.

1. General Indiscipline

Indiscipline is rampantly perceived and well pronounced among the workers in local government. The senior officers who travel to their families away from their offices on Friday, return very late the following Monday or may decide to stay back till Tuesday, and the junior members of the staff who directly or indirectly observe this more often than not are in the habit of playing truant with the jobs. Little or no commitment to duty has become a rule rather than an exception. Officers have been turned to market places were officers hawk their goods freely. The rules that guide moral conduct and professional ethnics seem to have, at worst, become cobweb that is too weak to tame the monstrous activities of the workers. Indiscriminate lustful desires are noticeable among the workers. The official relationship between super ordinates and subordinates has been stained. Strict instructions handed down from top echelon to the bottom are either not followed or treated with levity as a result of the immoral relationship between the boss and subordinates. Official duties are seen as an extension of private leisure. Laisser-faire attitude to work has arrested the efficiency of local government and has drastically affected its performance. Corruption in low and high places in the local government has been rampant among the senior civil bureaucrats to whom the public funds meant for developmental purposes are entrusted. Low officers sent on drives do not cover enough ground and also print their own receipt. They therefore, collect 70% of the drives as personal gains and return only 30% to the council. Generally, wide-scale embezzlement by officials of the grassroots has made the needed development of grassroots a fall dream and has rendered them financially incapable to discharge their constitutionally assigned responsibilities.

2. Undue Interference

The degree of external influence and intrusion in the local government affairs by the higher levels of government is worrisome and needs re-evaluation. Situation where the state governor unconstitutionally dissolves the entire elected council’s officers without proper investigations on spurious allegations is not good for the future of local government administration in the country. Such external interference indeed subverts democratic process and undermines constitutional authority at the grassroots level.

Practically, and in the true sense, local government in Nigeria lacks autonomous financial power. Local government is now considered an extension of state’s ministry. The inherent nature of this problem has caused subservience, a situation where local government waits for the next directives from state government before the former could think of, let alone embarking on development projects. The major challenge that the local government faces is the political control the respective state governors have on the local government chairmen. This is as a result of the fact that state governors sponsor election of most, if not all, of the chairmen. They are handpicked by the state governors rather than being elected. It is a clear case of who pays the piper dictates the tune. This again, creates a problem of diversion of local government funds for personal use of state governor.

 

3. Inadequacy of Skilled Worker

Save for some few local councils in Lagos State and perhaps, some southern states, local government generally has experienced and is still experiencing dearth of skilled, technical and professional staff like qualified engineers (of all types), medical doctors, accountants, statisticians, economists, lawyers, town planners, to mention a few. The facilitating factors for this include: Low image of local government in the mind of professional who feel and think that there is no job satisfaction sufficient to keep them at that low level of public service. Abysmally low payment scheme for the staff of the council which is not commensurate even with the recent minimum wave as local government is the least paid public service in the nation. Worst still, no effort is in place to upgrade their remuneration status.

Manner of recruitment is questionable as it is based on subjectivity and consideration of sentiment which ultimately enthrones mediocrity and debase meritocracy. This grade level 01-06 whose payment status is as low as N24,000.00 at most is naturally not suitable for any skilled worker

LOCAL GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT

Personnel management is the process of skillful procurement, utilization, development, motivation and control of staff to accomplish the organizational objectives. In fact, the ability of any organization or society to achieve its goals depends on the caliber of its human resources, otherwise known as personnel and more importantly, on how effectively they are managed. The local government is not an exception as the tier of government is not an exception. As the tier of government nearest to the grassroots, local government has over the years been regarded as a veritable instrument of rural development. Indeed, the objectives of the local government according to the 1976 guidelines for local government reform in Nigeria are: To make appropriate services and development activities responsive to local wishes and initiatives by evolving or delegating them to local representative bodies. To facilitate the exercise of democratic self government close to the grassroots of our society, and to encourage initiative and leadership potentials.

Mobilization of human and material resources through effective management of human resources. Thus, Lickert (1974) opines that “of all the tasks of management, managing the human component is central and most important task because all else depends on how well it is done”

Accordingly, the personnel management of local government involves the recruitment, appointment, posting, promotion, training and discipline of its employees for the purpose of attainment of its goals.

There is hierarchy of officials and institution which are responsible for the personnel management duties of the local government. This ranges from the chairman, secretary, supervisors, administrative heads of

Department junior staff management committee and the local Government service commission. Even the

Department of Local Government Affairs in the Governor’s office is also involved in these personnel management functions as it has the responsibility for local government personnel training.

 

PROBLEMS OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT IN THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT SYSTEMS.

Ubeku (1975), observed that we may examine personnel management from two different angles, first, as a function or responsibility of every manager or supervisor who has people under him all of whom are working towards the achievement of desired goals. Secondly, as a function in an organization which is performed by particular department, the personnel department. Deriving the above extract, there are

problems of the personnel departments of the local government and there problems which the staff of the local government encounter. On the basis of the latter, Ogunna (1996) referred to it as personnel problem of the local government among which he outlined low pay, lack of adequate incentives and motivation, low prestige as local government employees are considered as rural officials with local status and rural image. Their job is not challenging to bring out the best in them. They do not enjoy equal treatment with the state civil servants etc. Onyishi (2002) blamed the problems of personnel department of the local government on over centralization hence lumping seldom makes staff assessment efficient. Onah (2002) pointed at political interference from the states and the influence of ethnicity, favouritism and nepotism. Majorly, irregular payment of staff salaries and total absence of fringe benefits and physical working conditions which are usually very poor all impacts negatively on the personnel management of the councils.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Based on the research findings on problems of personnel management in the local government system, the following are recommended:

1. There is need for professionally qualified and experienced personnel to head various departments in the local government. Such persons will be needed to formulate efficient personnel plans, evolve personnel management techniques and strategies for efficient personnel recruitment, placement, and management;

2. There is need for autonomy of the local government as a third tier, especially on the aspect of personnel management where those professionally qualified and experienced personnel heading various departments will be able to showcase their competencies, experiences, knowledge’s and expertise.

Conclusion

Personnel is a critical factor in the attainment of the goals of an organization, hence good organizational structure does not by itself, guarantee good performance. Plant, offices, computers, automated equipments and all else that a modern firm uses are unproductive except for human efforts and direction. This is why personnel have been defined as persons employed in an organization to perform some kind of work or task including the management of them.

However, the ability of personnel to contribute to the attainment of the goals of an organization such as the local government depends to a large extent on how well they are managed. This is because all the task of management managing the human component is central and most important task because all else depend on how well it is done. Simply put, the personnel of an organization have to be properly managed for them to be able to make maximum contribution to the organization. Such organization may be the local government council.

Reference

Bello-Imam, I. B. (1996). Local Government in Nigeria: Evolving a third tier of Government. Ibadan:

Heinemann Educational Books (Nigeria) PLC.

Cole, G. A. (2002). Personnel and Human Resource Management. Fifth Edition. Book Power. London.

Croft, L. (1996). Management and Organisation, London: Bankers Books Limited.

Dumadu, S. (2008). Local Government Administration and Challenges of Rural Development in Nigeria. Unpublished.

Ezeani, E. O. (2005). Fundamentals of Public Administration. Enugu: Zik-Chuks Publishers, Snaap Press Ltd.

Ezeani, E. O. and Nwankwo, B. C. (2002). Human Resources management in the local Government System in Nigeria (eds.) Nsukka: AP Express Publishers.

Gary, D. (2008). Human Resource Management. Eleventh Edition. New Delhi: Prentice Hall of India Private Limited.

Haire, M. (1959) Modern Organization Theory, New York: John Wiley and Sons.

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