The civil service is a department in the executive arm of government which is responsible for the execution of policies and programmes of the government.  The civil service workers are known as Civil Servants.  Each ministry in the civil service is headed by Ministers or Commissioners.

 Characteristics of Civil Service

  1. Neutrality: Civil service workers are not expected to participate in partisan politics unless they resign their appointment.
  2. Permanence: The civil service is a permanent government institution that does not change with the government.  The workers also enjoy security of job.
  3. Anonymity: A civil servant is not expected to reveal or speak to the press disclosing official secrets unless authorized by the minister.
  4. Impartiality: Civil servants are also expected to serve any government or political party in power without fear or favour.
  1. Merit: Employment into the civil service is based on merit and not to be based on favouritism.
  2. Expertise: Civil servants are expected to be experts in the functions they perform. This is because they put in long years of service.



  1. Define civil service
  2. State five characteristics of civil service.



  1. Formulation of policies.
  2. They ensure the implementation and execution of government policies.
  3. They give useful advice to the government through the ministers or commissioners.
  4. They act as intermediary between the government and the general public in dissemination of information.
  5. Through delegated legislation, the civil service performs legislative function by making bye-laws and such laws are obeyed.
  6. The civil servants provide information and help in the preparation and execution of annual budget and yearly statement of expected income and expenditure.
  1. The civil service provides social services to the people which help to improve lives.
  2. It also provides employment opportunities to members of the public.
  3. The civil service also keeps official documents of government.
  4. They also perform functions such as preparing bulletins, collection of taxes, representing ministries and government in certain public functions and meetings.



  1. List four functions of the civil service.
  2. Explain two of the functions you have listed.



The civil service can be controlled through the following ways:

  1. Legislative Control: The legislature through the civil service appropriations can exercise control over civil servants and the ministers or commissioners can also be invited for questioning and to explain the activities of their ministries on the floor of the House.
  2. Public /Civil Service Commission Control: This commission is vested with the powers of appointing, promoting, transferring, discipline and dismissal of civil servants.
  3. Ministry of Finance Control: Ministries of finance and establishment exercise control over other ministries under the civil service. These two ministries deal with matters relating to other ministries annual expenditure, salaries and pensions.
  4. Hierarchical Control: The civil service is structured in a way that each higher hierarchy controls others below it.
  5. Judicial Control: The court can also control civil service through trying and punishing defaulters of criminal cases involving anybody including civil servants.
  6. Public Complaint commission (OMBUDSMAN). This is an independent body but have the power to listen to and investigate complains of citizens which may however relate to the civil service or a particular civil servant.
  7. Press Control: The press through their investigative journalism may criticize defaulters of public office holders and this serves as effective check on the civil service.


Problems that hinder the effective functioning of the civil service are

  1. Political instability
  2. Bribery and corruption
  3. Negative attitude towards work
  4. Low incentive
  5. Political interference
  6. Tribalism, nepotism and favouritism
  7. Bureaucracy i.e too much emphasis is laid on protocol especially on issues that demand urgent attention.



  1. Whose duty is it to fund the civil service?
  2. Explain the various ways of controlling civil service.



  1. What are the ways through which civil service is controlled?
  2. Explain the problems hindering the effectiveness of the civil service.
  3. Explain the various method of political competition.
  4. Give the full meaning of E.F.C.C.
  5. What is the meaning of N.G.O?


Read on Control of the Civil Service in Fundamentals of Civic Education for Senior Secondary School by Sola Akinyemi.



  1. The judicial control of the civil service is vested in (a) the ministry of finance (b) the press (c) the law court
  1. All are ways of controlling the civil service except by (a) civil service commission

(b) ombudsman           (c) local government chairman

  1. Lack of adequate control of the civil service leads to all except (a) effectiveness (b) poor management (c) inefficiency
  2. When too much emphasis is laid on protocol and official rules, it is termed _______

(a) Autocracy                (b) Bureaucracy        (c) Efficiency

  1. All are problems facing the civil service except (a) Low incentive (b) Nepotism (c) Lack of unskilled manpower



  1. List the structure of the civil service.
  2. Explain each structure you have listed above.


See also




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