Our resolve to sustain innovation in the Civil Service yielding tangible results – Yemi-Esan

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*Photo: Dr (Mrs) Folasade Yemi-Esan*

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The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Mrs Folasade Yemi-Esan has said the resolve to sustain innovation in the Civil Service is yielding tangible results.

She said this on Monday in Abuja in her keynote address delivered on the occasion of the award ceremony of the 4th edition of the annual Civil Service Innovation Competition.

The HoCSF said “Since the first edition in 2020, the Civil Service has been able to effectively deploy several solutions that were developed in-house.”

These, according to her, include:
“The Compro CBT Application for the Conduct of Confirmation Exams in the Civil Service;

“Anonymous Reporting System (ARS) which is a whistleblowing application; and

“Office Space Management Solution which has helped the office to effectively reallocate and manage office spaces in the various phases of the Federal Secretariat Complex, Abuja.”

She enthused that ” ​Just last week, the Office commenced the Pre-Promotion Training for Officers on Salary Grade Level 14. It will interest you to know that the application used to conduct the mock assessment exam was developed by an officer in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. The web-based application is secure and has the feature of admitting all the prospective candidates on the portal and assigning unique user I.Ds to them. This is in addition to administering exam questions and scoring candidates in real-time.


Dr Yemi-Esan said “These and other innovative ideas only revalidate the point shared by the Chief Executive of the Anambra State ICT Agency, Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata, during a panel discussion at the Omniverse Summit held last month in Lagos, wherein he said:

“The notion that civil servants lack innovation is a misconception we are determined to overturn”.”

She noted that the best can be brought out in civil servants at all levels when they are engaged and provided with the enabling environment to find expression in the work they do.

“This is why the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation remains committed to sustaining and strengthening the structures established to drive innovation in the public service which are in line with the policy thrust of the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan 2021-2025 (FCSSIP25),” she said.

The HoCSF said “This commitment is also in pursuit of the actualization of Priority Area 7 of the Renewed Hope Agenda of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu -led Administration which is to “Accelerate Diversification through industrialization, digitization, creative arts, manufacturing and innovation. It is instructive to point out that achieving the aforementioned Priority area is key to unlocking Priority Area 8 – Improving governance for effective service delivery as well as other Priority areas in the agenda.”

She however said that the Nigeria Civil Service cannot do it alone, adding that “This is why we call for effective and sustainable collaboration with both public and private sector organizations including development partners. It is hoped that with the sustained support, the Nigeria Public Service will significantly contribute to improving Nigeria’s ranking in the Global Innovation Index which is 109th among the 132 economies featured in the 2023 rankings.”

Dr Yemi-Esan said,  in line with  tradition, “The Star prize winner will be awarded the sum of Three Million Naira (N3,000,000), the first runner-up will receive One Million, Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N1,750,000), while the second runner–up will be presented with the sum of One Million Naira (N1,000,000). Ten other innovators will receive the sum of Two Hundred Thousand Naira (N200,000) each as consolation prizes.”

She commended the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties Office, Office of the Head of Service, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, and members of the technical team for all the effort put in to host this year’s competition, while also extending appreciation to the judges for taking time out of their very busy schedules to be part of the event.

In her address of welcome, Dr Ajani said the Public Service which is traditionally viewed as bureaucratic and slow to change, is now under pressure to adapt and innovate to meet the evolving needs of citizens, improve service delivery, and enhance societal outcomes.

She said  the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) has in order to build a world class, effective and responsive Civil Service, as envisioned in the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan (FCSSIP – 2020) and the successor plan (FCSSIP – 2025), remained committed towards institutionalization of innovation in the Federal Civil Service.

” One of the strategies deployed towards achieving this goal is implementation of Federal Civil Service Innovation Competition, with the maiden edition organized in the year 2020. The competition provides a veritable platform to showcase and celebrate the ingenuity, creativity and problem-solving prowess of Civil Servants. It also encourages Civil Servants to identify problems in the Service, proffer solutions and propose suitable approaches to solving the problems,” Dr Ajani said.

Read the full speeches below:

KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY DR. FOLASADE YEMI-ESAN, CFRHEAD OF THE CIVIL SERVICE OF THE FEDERATION, DELIVERED ON THE OCCASION OF THE AWARD CEREMONY OF THE 4TH EDITION OF THE ANNUAL FEDERAL CIVIL SERVICE INNOVATION COMPETITION HELD AT THE CONFERENCE ROOM, FEDERAL MINISTRY OF WORKS ON MONDAY 25TH MARCH, 2024, ABUJA.

PROTOCOL

Globally, the drums of innovation sound the loudest. Innovation has not only transversed all eras of human existence but has remained the catalyst of civilization. From the invention of the wheel to the crafting of the compass, to the moulding of the first Light Bulb, to the ascent of the first Aircraft, and the activation of the computer, innovation has enabled humanity to defy the boundaries of impossibility.

2.​Innovation is about identifying problems, stirring up creativity and engaging in divergent thinking to derive solutions to improve the quality of life.

3.​These among other allied objectives have informed the hosting of the Federal Civil Service Innovation Competition. As you are aware, the competition sets out to provide a platform for Civil Servants to identify problems in the Service and proffer innovative solutions.

4.​This year’s competition is the 4th Edition since its inception in 2020 and participants were made to compete within the scope of the following subjects. These are: Reward and Performance Management, Mentorship and Succession Planning, as well as Talent Management and Knowledge Transfer through E-Learning.

5.​A total of 203 submissions were received and collated, out of which 99 civil servants participated in the first round of pitching. From this number 28 qualified and participated in the second round. At the final round held on 22nd March, 2024, a total number of 14 contestants competed, from which three (3) top winning ideas emerged, with ten (10) other winners. 

6.​For me, I feel the most important outcome of the competition is the remarkable display of courage and a can-do-attitude by all the innovators who pitched one idea or the other during the competition. This is a very commendable level of confidence and a positive approach to life. Having a positive attitude to problems helps you identify what improvements can be made.

7.​This is why attempting to innovate involves taking risks and that also requires courage to confront skeptics and the fear of failing. It is pertinent to also point out that inherent in every failed attempt at anything is an opportunity to improve and succeed. Fear is what stops you but courage is what keeps you going.

8.​Sir Isaac Newton, is credited with the saying that:
“No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.”

9. ​Albert Einstein was also famously quoted as saying:
“If you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried anything new.”

10. Therefore, it is true that “Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will”. Against this backdrop, I extend a thumbs up in saying a big well done to all the participants of this year’s Innovation competition for demonstrating exceptional courage and daring to pitch your numerous ideas.

11.​Distinguished Guests, Innovators, Ladies and Gentlemen, Public Service innovation is essential to keep up with the pace of global change. By investing and promoting a culture and ecosystem for innovation to thrive, the Public Service can retain and attract the best talents in a competitive labour market.

12.​In this light, it is pleasing to note that our resolve to sustain innovation in the Service and discourage the suppression of ideas is yielding tangible results. Since the first edition in 2020, the Civil Service has been able to effectively deploy several solutions that were developed in-house. These include:

The Compro CBT Application for the Conduct of Confirmation Exams in the Civil Service;

Anonymous Reporting System (ARS) which is a whistleblowing application; and

Office Space Management Solution which has helped the office to effectively reallocate and manage office spaces in the various phases of the Federal Secretariat Complex, Abuja.

13. ​Just last week, the Office commenced the Pre-Promotion Training for Officers on Salary Grade Level 14. It will interest you to know that the application used to conduct the mock assessment exam was developed by an officer in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federatio0n. The web-based application is secure and has the feature of admitting all the prospective candidates on the portal and assigning unique user I.Ds to them. This is in addition to administering exam questions and scoring candidates in real-time.


14.​These and other innovative ideas only revalidate the point shared by the Chief Executive of the Anambra State ICT Agency, Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata, during a panel discussion at the Omniverse Summit held last month in Lagos, wherein he said:

“The notion that civil servants lack innovation is a misconception we are determined to overturn”.


15. ​Truly, you can bring out the best in civil servants at all levels when they are engaged and provided with the enabling environment to find expression in the work they do. This is why the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation remains committed to sustaining and strengthening the structures established to drive innovation in the public service which are in line with the policy thrust of the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan 2021-2025 (FCSSIP25).

16. ​This commitment is also in pursuit of the actualization of Priority Area 7 of the Renewed Hope Agenda of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu -led Administration which is to “Accelerate Diversification through industrialization, digitization, creative arts, manufacturing and innovation. It is instructive to point out that achieving the aforementioned Priority area is key to unlocking Priority Area 8 – Improving governance for effective service delivery as well as other Priority areas in the agenda.

17. ​However, the Nigeria Civil Service cannot do it alone. This is why we call for effective and sustainable collaboration with both public and private sector organizations including development partners. It is hoped that with the sustained support, the Nigeria Public Service will significantly contribute to improving Nigeria’s ranking in the Global Innovation Index which is 109th among the 132 economies featured in the 2023 rankings.

18.​Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, in line with our tradition, the following category of top innovators will be awarded the following prizes, The Star prize winner will be awarded the sum of Three Million Naira (N3,000,000), the first runner-up will receive One Million, Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N1,750,000), while the second runner–up will be presented with the sum of One Million Naira (N1,000,000). Ten other innovators will receive the sum of Two Hundred Thousand Naira (N200,000) each as consolation prizes. Congratulations to you all.

19.​I use this opportunity to thank the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties Office, Office of the Head of Service, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, and members of the technical team for all the effort put in to host this year’s competition. I also wish to extend my appreciation to the judges for taking time out of their very busy schedules to be part of the event. I am confident that the winning solutions will contribute to enhancing the trajectory of the Federal Civil Service toward improved service delivery and productivity. I want to assure you all that we will explore ways of refining and deploying the solutions from this edition where required.
20.​Permit me to specially thank the Honourable Minister of Works, His Excellency, Engr. David Umahi for providing this very convenient venue for the grand finale of the competition to hold.

20.​Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, on a final note, I wish to affirm that the future is truly bright. However, the onus is on us all to continue to work collectively and diligently for the contemporary transformation of the Public Service and enhance its ability to drive the socio-economic advancement of Nigeria.

21. ​I sincerely thank you all for your support and may God bless us all.

WELCOME ADDRESS BY DR. MAGDALENE AJANI
PERMANENT SECRETARY, SPECIAL DUTIES OFFICE, OFFICE OF THE HEAD OF THE CIVIL SERVICE OF THE FEDERATION AT THE AWARD PRESENTATION CEREMONY OF THE 4TH EDITION OF THE FEDERAL CIVIL SERVICE INNOVATION COMPETITION HOLDING
ON MONDAY, 25 MARCH, 2024

PROTOCOL

          It is my pleasure and honour to welcome you all to the Award Presentation Ceremony of the fourth edition of the Federal Civil Service Innovation Competition organized for officers across the Federal Civil Service.

2.       Traditionally viewed as bureaucratic and slow to change, the Public Service globally is now under pressure to adapt and innovate to meet the evolving needs of citizens, improve service delivery, and enhance societal outcomes. Public Service innovation plays a crucial role in addressing societal challenges and improving governance effectiveness. It has become increasingly important in addressing the complex challenges confronting Governments worldwide.

3.       In order to build a world class, effective and responsive Civil Service, as envisioned in the Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan (FCSSIP – 2020) and the successor plan (FCSSIP – 2025), the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) has remained committed towards institutionalization of innovation in the Federal Civil Service. One of the strategies deployed towards achieving this goal is implementation of Federal Civil Service Innovation Competition, with the maiden edition organized in the year 2020. The competition provides a veritable platform to showcase and celebrate the ingenuity, creativity and problem-solving prowess of Civil Servants. It also encourages Civil Servants to identify problems in the Service, proffer solutions and propose suitable approaches to solving the problems.

4.       The progress recorded over the past three editions is impressive. The Service has witnessed emergence of transformative ideas and solutions that have redefined the landscape of the Federal Civil Service, showing that we have great minds and innovative people in the Service, with the capacity and capability to move the Service forward.

5.      Dear participants, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, the fourth edition of this competition as you are aware is focused on addressing problems classified under the following thematic areas:

      i.         Reward and Performance Management System;

    ii.         Mentorship and Succession Planning;

  iii.         Talent Management and Knowledge Transfer (E – Learning solutions).

7.      I am glad to inform you that the competition which commenced with submission of ideas on 16 February, 2024 was successfully concluded at the third/final round on 22 March, 2024 with the emergence of first, second and third prize winners and ten other consolation prizes. A whole lot of activities were carried out to ensure successful delivery of the competition. These included:

      i.         Sensitization webinar held 7 March, 2024 where intending participants were acquainted with modalities for participation;

    ii.         Round 1, Pitching of ideas/problems held 11 – 17 March, 2024, where 99 participants presented their ideas/solutions;

  iii.         Training on effective pitching organized on 19 March, 2024 for 28 contestants short-listed for second round of pitching to equip them better with the requisite skills for pitching and ideation;

  iv.         Round 2, pitching of ideas held 20 – 21 March, 2024, where 28 participants short-listed from the 1st round participated;

    v.         Final round of pitching held 22 March, 2024 where 14 contestants that qualified from Round 2 participated;

  vi.         A team of experts with expertise on innovation were selected as judges. They assessed the contestants and awarded scores to them  at various stages of the competition.

8.      Today’s event is symbolic and marks the Award Presentation Ceremony of the 4th edition of the Federal Civil Service Innovation Competition. I will like to appreciate the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan for her visionary leadership and support which made this high impact transformative programme a success. I wish to thank the judges, technical team members led by the Director (SID) and other officials that worked behind the scene to make this event a success. I wish to congratulate those that will emerge winners and assure them that they will be carried along with all the relevant stakeholders in the implementation of the winning solutions in the Service.

10.    I will end my speech with this popular saying “Without change, there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.” – William Polard.

11.    Thank you and God bless.

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