The Nigerian public service will be getting a facelift and it isn’t the regular kind. The Federal Government announced today that it has begun the process of phasing out the paper-based Annual Performance Evaluation Report (APER) system of evaluation for public service servants.
This was revealed by the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan during the take-off of a service-wide training for public officers on the use of Performance Management System (PMS) in Abuja. This, according to the HoS, is part of the government’s commitment to enhancing service delivery in the public service.
The Annual Performance Evaluation Report system (APER) is an annual evaluation procedure whereby employees work ethics, skills and capabilities are assessed for the suitability of promotion and training. It was adopted by the Nigerian Civil Service in 1979 following the Udoji report. However, many observers have dismissed the system as being more theoretical than practical.
To many of them, the system is the bedrock of poor performance and ineffectiveness that has plagued the civil service over the years. The APER system is also claimed to suffer from inefficient feedback mechanisms because it is not a continuous process, poor objectivity, cumbersome and its measures are not always quantifiable.
Dr Yemi-Esan acknowledged these shortcomings thus:
“What we are doing today is a training workshop on the new Performance Management System that will replace the APER that has been used for years and has quite a number of limitations.Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan
“One of the limitations we have seen is that it doesn’t really give any sense of reward or what the officer has done. And what we discovered recently is that officers just sit down and fill forms themselves with no clear objectivity and there is no appraisal whatsoever with the APER form. And the APER form is filled just once a year,” she said.
While reiterating that APER is an annual paper-based appraisal with a prevalence of missing paperwork before the next appraisal, she agreed that these obvious limitations necessitated the introduction of the digitally-driven PMS which would help prepare all categories of public officers for goal and objective setting.
“The new Performance Management System that we are introducing now is a digital system and every officer will have to go online and fill in his/her target for the year. At the beginning of every year, the officer will agree with his immediate superior on a target based on the departmental strategy as well as the national strategy. So, the officer will be able to relate to the national goals,” the Head of Service said.
While noting that every information will henceforth be online, she clarified that promotion of public servants will be based strictly on the PMS and the performance updates within it.
“When it is time for promotion, what the Director, Human Resources will do is to forward the summary of the individuals’ appraisal, and translate it to the Office of the Head of Service for onward transmission to the Federal Civil Service Commission.”
In a world where public servants are generally considered lazy and never alive to their duties except with extra motivation, the Nigerian public service still stands out. It is widely considered to be filled with political appointees employed through favouritism and nepotism and this has made them less accountable which in turn has reduced the service to mediocrity.
This lack of accountability has been largely blamed on the poor system of performance evaluation within the public service. We can only hope that introducing the PMS would bring a measure of accountability and productivity to the service.
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