Job Dissatisfaction And Public Service In Nigeria –By Johnson EBIGIDE


Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –By Johnson EBIGIDE: 

Dr. Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), American Psychotherapist, stated in his theory on ‘’work and why people work’’ that work is a very important part of our lives to which we dedicate more than half of our whole time on earth’’ and that ‘’if you are unhappy with your work, you have lost one of the most important means of self-fulfillment.’’

The essence of work, therefore, is utilization of the inner drive of an individual towards the actualization of his aspirations in life. Apart from the urge to meet the basic human needs of food, clothing and shelter, humans, unlike instinctive animals, crave recognition as being self fulfilled in the society. It is the aspiration of every sane human to be a force to reckon with in the society.

Normally, it is by working that such recognition is attained. However, different communities in the world have different canons with which to judge the greatness of an individual. While some communities rely heavily on the humanitarian uprightness of an individual in assessing greatness, some others hinge such judgments on material growth of individuals, resulting in the people in such a materialistic community striving at all costs to arrive the shores of greatness through devilish, capitalistic maneuvering, even at the detriment of the society itself.

In such a debased community, less importance is attached to the dignifying values of work; instead, people would be materialistic, corrupt, hard-hearted and generally devilish in their inter-personal relationships, thereby, making life unsafe and brutish. Their work philosophy would be ‘’Less effort, huge material gains’’. Indolence, mediocrity, and political appointments are embraced at the expense of industry, justified means of livelihood and commitment to the general well-being of one another. A sudden reversal of the work ethics of such people would result in most of them complaining of job dissatisfaction.

Nigeria at present can be said to have some taints of such a debased community. Why are most Nigerians dissatisfied with the work they do these days, particularly in the public service? Why is it that while some civil servants are unhappy with their job and working strenuously to retain their present offices, some others are dissatisfied with theirs and praying fervently for a possible immediate reversal of the status quo?

That is not far-fetched. It all borders on insincerity of those making the whole gamut of bureaucracy much more bottle-necked than expected. Why for example an office should be created and funded at all if its utmost goal is to serve as a dungeon for civil servants who are perceived to be deviants?. Why in the name of morality should staff of any ministry be segregated into first choice and second rate?

As a follow up from the above, the question of placement during posting exercises in the service is germane. Most Nigerians for obvious reasons prefer life in the glittering urban centres to that in the rustic rural scene. Posting such Nigerians to the sleeping rural enclaves would result almost immediately in the lost of interest in their job. Most times, however, such posting may not be ordinary, but simply a vindictive exercise to punish and possibly vanquish a perceived intransigent staff.

Again, internal deployments of staff within a ministry and from one government establishment to another can bring about job dissatisfaction of some staff. Some offices and establishments are definitely rosier and juicier than others. A deployment or posting from the former to the latter could suddenly remove the glamour of the job for most staff, resulting in their being dissatisfied with the routine of the new office. That explains why most civil servants go the extra miles to lobby and continually bribe the authorities concerned to ensure the consolidation of their rosy positions while those that are so morally upright as to ignore such corrupt authorities are continuously frisked from one drab office to another.

Another major source of job dissatisfaction and frustration is imposed idleness. This is common place in the civil service. Government is the largest employer of labour; most times, employing just to satisfy the political aspirations of the ruling party, even when there are no vacancies in the various ministries and establishments, resulting in unmanageable bloated public workforce. When this happens, too many staff in a department would be pursuing the same assignment at the same time. In such an instance, those staff that are closer to the departmental head owing to tribalism, favouritism, nepotism and other unwholesome relationships are more often scheduled to engage in rosy assignments, leaving tedious, gratuitous duties to some, and some others to merely browse through old discarded files. This can be very frustrating and demeaning!

Before now, it was thought that only the dead wood, those that could not cope with the rigour and fast pace of the private sector, chose to work in the public service, which was, therefore, seen as a kind of dumping ground for people with low academic and intelligent quotient. However, with the present high rate of unemployment in the country, the earlier perception and paradigm have shifted, as most recently employed civil servants in the country are not only geniuses, but vibrant staff burning to showcase their innate intellectual gifts but are being frustrated and tamed by the bureaucratic bottle-necks of the service. This in addition to constant frictions in most cases between some heads of departments and some of their subordinates, particularly the vibrant ones, is a cause of serious job dissatisfaction among the latter. In some instances, the cause of such unnecessary debilitating frictions is the conflicting points of view of the two groups. While some of the senior management officers are conservative, pedantic, adamant and uncompromising, most other officers are progressive, flexible and intelligently compromising in their attitude to work, making it nightmarish for the latter to work in tandem with the former.

The ever widening gap between the private and the public sectors, particularly in terms of emoluments in the different sectors, is another major problem. While employees in the private profit-oriented sector are invariably often highly remunerated with better working conditions and mouth-watering welfare packages, their counterparts in the public sector until lately were laughable species in this regards. Even now, some civil servants see the service as a mere launching pad to a better job in the private sector in the future, while taking solace in the job security being provided in the public service. Again, the nascent democracy where a fresh graduate from the university for example is catapulted through political appointment to head the affairs of a government establishment could also be a source of job dissatisfaction to some civil servants in the establishments; particularly when such an appointee is arrogant, dictatorial and disrespectful to those who are clearly far older than him or her.

Against this backdrop, it is necessary that the Nigerian society should help in installing job satisfaction into workers by institutionalising a reversal of canons of assessing those to be acclaimed successful in the society. Most Nigerians would start enjoying what they do for a living, even though menial but not demeaning, with the realization that societal inducements, such as chieftaincy titles, could be bestowed on those with the sparks of transparency, accountability, probity and total commitment to work, even though poor, rather than the present deleterious, putrid situation where the richest and highest bidder, corrupt and incorrigibly hedonistic is adorned with the regalia of the achiever and celebrated in the society.

It is also necessary to inform and advise dissatisfied Nigerian workers that they cannot be truly saddened with the thought of being idle, and so showcase their intellectual gifts one way or the other, even though the hard ways, in their job.Yes, ‘’Growth comes through pain and struggle, ‘’ says the Philosopher, Friedrich Hegel.

*Johnson Ebigide, a journalist, writes from Asaba, Delta State

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