By Joe Abah
Yesterday, the President announced that Ministers will sign a Performance Agreement with him at the end of the ongoing Ministerial Retreat. Many private sector people hailed it as the introduction of KPIs and targets for Ministers, like is done in the private sector.
This is not correct. We have been issuing KPIs and targets to Ministers for at least 11 years now. Let me give you a bit of the history and explain some of the issues. KPIs and targets in the public sector actually go back to the Jerome Udoji Report of 1974. The Gowon government ignored it and just implemented the part of it that said public sector should be comparable to private sector pay. They just raised salaries and ignored the performance management part.
President Jonathan issued KPIs and targets to Ministers in 2012 and everyone signed. When we reported the results in 2013, virtually every Minister failed to meet theirs. Some said “Haa! We didn’t know what we were signing then ni o.” Others blamed it on lack of funds and not being able to hire and fire.
The President didn’t really push it and in 2014, preparations for elections were already underway. Everyone just moved on.
In 2021, President Buhari set out KPIs and targets for each Minister and everybody signed a Performance Agreement.
It was monitored and reported on every year, with the President and the VP attending every session and staying throughout for 2 days. A Central Coordination and Delivery Unit was set up in the Office of the SGF to independently track and report performance. The best young minds from the public service was recruited into that unit and they received free technical assistance from one of my projects to train the staff and get it going.
However, nobody was ever sanctioned for poor performance. In some cases, some Ministers failed or refused to do some things and this was reported every single year. For instance, the Attorney General/ Minister for Justice had a target to establish Special Anti-corruption Courts. It never happened and was reported every year with the President in attendance. Nothing ever happened.
President Tinubu has set out 8 Priority Areas and 8 Priority Targets. He has warned that Ministers who do not perform will be sacked. He has also fully and very publicly empowered his SA on Policy Coordination and Delivery to track performance, and said that any Minister that has a problem with her should come to him. Will things be different this time? We wait.
Dr Joe Abah is a governance sector leader