When Nigeria gained her independence in 1960 from the British Colonial Authority, the Public Service Commission was entrenched in the constitution of Nigeria to perform the function of appointments, promotion and discipline in the Public Service; particularly as Government business were organized under the departmental Establishments such as:- Public Works Department, Treasury Department, Forestry Department, Health Department, the Nigerian Railways, the Electricity Board, the Telecommunication Board and the Nigerian Harbour, to mention a few.
The Central Public Service Board was created sequel to the acceptance of the Nigerianisation Commission Report of 1st January, 1949. The main function of this board was to interview and recommend to the Governor-General, candidates from within and outside the service for appointment or promotion. The Board was made up of a Civil Service Commissioner, the Director of Education or his representative and one official representative of each of the Regional Boards. It was however, empowered to co-opt two additional members, if need be.
A caretaker Central Public Service Commission was constituted on 3rd May, 1952 under the provision of section 169 of the Nigerian Order-in-Council (Constitution) of 1951. This was a transitory body to advice the Governor-General on issues affecting the Public Service at his request. The Federal Public Service Commission was consequently established on the 1st of April, 1954 through a Provision under section 174 of Nigerian Order-in-Council (Constitution) of 1954.
The order provided that the Governor-General might (either generally or specially and in whatever manner he thought fit) refer to the Commission, the appointment of any person to an Office in the Public Service of the Federation, or dismissal or disciplinary control of Officers in the Public Service of Federation, or any other matter which in his opinion, affected the Public Service of the Federation. This in essence gave the Commission the authority to cover all posts (established or unestablished) for which funds were provided in the Federal Annual Estimates.
The Commission at this stage was only an advisory body whose key mandate was advising the Governor-General. The position changed in 1956 when an amendment to the enabling legislation gave the Commission the power to appoint, promote, transfer, second, dismiss or otherwise discipline Officers belonging to certain grades. The name was later changed from Federal Public Service Commission to Federal Civil Service Commission under section 140(b) of the 1979 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Federal Government announced its intention in January, 1985 to create a Customs, Immigration and Prisons Service Board which among other things removed the Civil Servants of the Services concerned from the jurisdiction of the Federal Civil Service Commission. The Government later split the Board into the Nigeria Customs Service and Immigration, Prisons and Civil Defence Corps Boards respectively. This was also the case with other agencies and establishments like the Federal Inland Revenue Board established by the FIRS Act 2007 which staff matters ceased to be handled by the Commission.
Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan
Head of the Civil Service of the Federation