Dasuki Arabi: The Whirlwind Reformer in BPSR
By Isah Ismaila Gagarawa

As an engine room for integrated reform implementation, coordination and harmonization of federal public service best practices, the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) has creditably and impressively lived up to its billing. It is gradually facilitating the building of Nigeria’s public service into a highly functional, professional, customer focused and results oriented institution.

In August 2017, the baton of leadership was handed over to the then Director of Corporate Services, Mr. Dasuki Arabi, who became the acting Director General. To hit the ground running immediately after assuming office as BPSR’s helmsman, Arabi, who is fondly called the ‘Reformer” by his staff, started championing critical reforms aimed at moving the Bureau forward, in line with its mandate.

Even though his predecessor recorded sterling achievements in office, the ‘Reformer’ deemed it fit to consolidate on the successes recorded. Hence, he resolved to restructure the Bureau in order to leave it better than he met it. And in just little over two years, Arabi’s achievements are tremendous, even as they are landmark. One of his greatest tools is collaboration.

Immediately after his assumption in office as DG, Mr. Arabi sought for collaborations with sister bodies and agencies to ensure that his reform crusade sees the light of the day, and in the process birth an effective public service that will outlive generations of BPSR’s staff.

It is gratifying to note that some State Governors have already requested the support of BPSR, and ‘Mr. Reformer’ in reviving their moribund industries and state public service. Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe, in August last year, requested the support of BPSR to reform the State’s Tomato Company to help boost productivity and efficiency.

Similarly, when Gombe was battling with paucity of funds, and in dire need of reform initiatives, Arabi’s sagacious input was sought to energize the ‘Executive Order’ that will establish a Bureau in the State. Indeed, the creation of the Bureau in the state will help entrench accountability and transparency in the governance in Gombe. Already, the Governor Inuwa Yahaya has approved four advisors to help drive and actualize the vision of the State’s reform Bureau.

Also, to help address the challenges faced by federal agencies, he spearheaded a team of researchers to conduct a perception survey and proffer evidence-based solutions to tackle inefficiency, especially by civil servants. The survey will help identify some administrative burdens in the proper implementation of Executive Order 001 centered on promoting transparency and efficiency in Nigerian business environment.

The survey is also aimed at assisting government design templates and implement profound strategies for effective public administration. Arabi, equally, has advised several agencies most importantly, the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission to intensify their efforts in promoting innovation and investment in the country. This is in a bid to drive ‘progressive’ reforms that will position the federal public service as an institution grounded with excellence.

In June 2019, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) held a roundtable in Abuja to engage key stakeholders in developing public financial management. At the roundtable, Mr. Dasuki, solicited collaboration with ACCA and urged the Association to formulate sound public sector policies in the areas of ethics and professionalism.

To help measure and evaluate the impacts of reform initiative in this era of fake news and hate speech, he called for the retraining of Information Officers of various MDA’s on reporting of reforms considering the different socio-economic crisis confronting the nation.

His meeting with the Speaker of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, to give legal backing to reforms so that it stands the test of time assisted in bridging the gap between them and certain reforms made during the period were handed to the house for legal framework.

Centering on public financial management reforms through research and policy briefs, has helped the improvement of handling public fund with an outstanding 70 percent implementation rate across MDA’s which has tremendously aided this administration’s anti-corruption crusade.

From the look of things, the motive of this reformer is to rebrand the entire public service as partnership with Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) was made to lead the process while the bureau serves as the engine room for the reforms. This has led to the submission of a working national document on National Strategy on Public Service Reforms (NSPSR) to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval.

To be on the same pedestal with developed societies and global practices, Mr. Dasuki is also facilitating the proper implementation of Self-Assessment Tool in all the Federal MDAs to achieve effective service delivery. It will also help in boosting the morale of the top management and employees to improve their performances in every aspect of their individual or collective accountability by concentrating on better service delivery and governance to the citizens.

Gagarawa is a writer and serving corps member in Abuja and can be reached via ibnismail12@gmail.com