SAP and its implications on Nigeria Civil Srvice, By Emmanuel Abi J.

Since the early 1970s, most Africans States (Nigeria inclusive) have been bedevilled by the general crisis of development. This was manifested from dependence on a single commodity for export, rising public debts, declining agriculture productivity, e.t.c. The most far-reaching response to this crisis came from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in the form of a package of market-based reforms known as Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP). Babawale, (1997). Therefore Nigeria who was also experiencing strong difficulties in her economy at these times, to the extent that Civil Servants were unpaid for months had no form of hesitation to the programme.
The impact of SAP on the Civil Service is devastating. Its effect on the economy of Nigerian workers has bred organisational and political lack of confidence on the Managers of labour affairs. Yet workers, as individuals and through their organisations have put up resistance against the on-slaught of SAP on their living standard and have joined broad struggles to improve the conditions of everybody. The Nigeria Civil Service Union symbolised these struggles. In the course of this work the main area of focuses will be on the effects of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) on the Nigeria civil service, has the impacts be of positive or negative all these will be analysed bellow.

Conceptual Clarifications

Civil Service
Civil service usually refers to the functionaries of state who are appointed to their government jobs through non-elective process (Ayeni, 1987:87). Okereke (2003) reinforced this when he notes that civil service refers to government ministries and departments that are charged with the responsibilities of implementing policies. They are those in the service of federal, state and local government services primarily responsible for policy implementation and making inputs available for policy formulations.
Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP)
In its original sense, SAP was a ploy used by economically advanced countries to hands-off responsibility on those state-owned industries that were no longer capable of competing “with the new industrial capacity in developing countries” (Toye, 1995:1). That had been the trend from the 1940s until the 1980s. It was in the 1980s that SAP acquired a new meaning, the occurrence of which, according to Toye (1995), remarkably changed the history of world economic development. With its new connotation, SAP since then came to be associated with the developing countries, including Nigeria. Toye, (1995).

Reasons for the Introduction of SAP in Nigeria

There is no doubt that the Nigerian economy earned increased revenue as a result of the positive oil shock of 1973-1974. The windfall from oil and the subsequent boom enabled government to participate actively in the economy.

The windfall from oil was not utilized in creating a strong industrial base. Consequently, with the negative oil shock of 1981, government no longer had the resources to execute its programmes. However the collapse of world oil prices and the sharp decline in petroleum output, the latter resulting from a lowering of Nigeria’s OPEC quota in the early 1980s, brought to the forefront the precarious nature of the country’s economic and financial positions, therefore led to a persistent disequilibrium in the balance of payments.

During the mid – 1980s, the industrialized economies were going through a period of stagflation. Because the Nigerian economy is an integral part of the global system, it follows that depression in the industrialized countries will affect Nigeria. It was, therefore, not surprising that by 1984/85, the Nigerian economy was deep in a depression which started in early 1980/81, unemployment rates were very high, the rate of inflation became not only double digit but run-away coupled with declining productivity. And with the deteriorating nature of the civil service some measures were necessary to arrest the crisis. Hence this led to the introduction of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), by the former Head of State Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida in 1986. Akpan, (2004).

Effects of Structural Adjustment Programme in Nigeria Civil Service

According to Mu’Azu (2008), The conception of SAP is the “so c called” economic policy package which will open the economy to world big business, along the way to temporarily diversify exports, achieve fiscal and balance of payments viability, be able to pay foreign debts and strengthen the private sector.
Therefore in order to achieve these objectives through the strategies (SAP) so employed, certain policy measures and conditionalities were given. These policies are:

Withdrawal of petroleum subsidy: As part of the SAP-World Bank requirement for a reduction in government expenditure, the subsidy on petroleum products (gas, petrol, kerosene, diesel oil, and fuel oil) was reduced in 1986, 1988, 1989, and 1990.

Privatisation and commercialisation of public enterprises: With respect to privatisation, many Governments owned Enterprise were sold such as Government shares in the National Oil and Chemical Marketing Company Limited, the African Petroleum Company Limited, and Four Mills of Nigeria Limited were sold out.

The emergence of liberal foreign exchange of market determined rates: As Anyanwu (1989) observed, the Foreign Exchange Market (FEM) is a prescription for disaster that is fast destroying the foundations of the Nigerian economy. The continued naira depreciation at the Foreign Exchange Market has worsened and continues to aggravate the inflationary situation in Nigeria. This is so because, since domestic industries depend primarily on imported inputs whose costs have risen via the naira depreciation, costs of production rise leading to higher prices (Ojo,1989).

The liberalisation of external trade and payments: With the liberalisation of trade, businesses are allowed to make decisions freely about what they wish to import or export. The government imposes lesser restrictions

The deregulation of interest rate, such that it is determined by market forces: On July 31st 1987 the Central Bank of Nigeria, as part of SAP, announced the deregulation of interest rates. It also abolished (with effect from August 1st 1987) all controls on interest rates, which are now determined by the forces of demand and supply.

Wages freeze and later wage deregulation: That is attempt by a government to restrain wage-push inflation by holding wages at their existing level by force of law, and also to remove a particular arm of government from performing it functions when it comes to wage issues. For example the removal of wage and other labour issues from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent list.

Positive Effects of SAP
The major gain can be recapitulated as reversal of the negative trend of the growth of GDP and other key sectors of the economy. Others are easy access of economic agents to foreign exchange market and the enhancement of efficiency in resource allocation to the productive sectors enhancement of non-oil export competitiveness and inducement of enthusiastic export drive increase in the prices of agricultural exports in naira terms and the subsequent improvement in rural nominal incomes, successful debt rescheduling and debt conversion programmes, evolution of maintenance culture in both public and private life and the development of local technology and recycling of used materials. In spite of these gains, a number of economic problems have remained intractable. Okereke, (2003).

Negative Effects of SAP

In effect, The SAP has indeed introduced a lot of unimaginable difficulties on the civil servants. For them the only solution is to abolish the programme. Therefore, while they were fighting to improve their conditions under the programme, their long-term objective is to get the policy measures abandoned. On the other hand the Nigeria’s state wants to make that a permanent standard on the people

The implementation of the above policy prescriptions and others has brought a lot of hardship on Nigerian people especially the wage-earning group Civil Service in focussed. Members of Nigerian Civil Service are therefore horribly affected with the following:
Retrenchment of workers in the name of rationalisation of the public service, like workers elsewhere, members of Civil Service are going through, declining living conditions caused by declining value of the currency, stagnant wage level and increasingly rising inflationary trends.Increasing difficulties because of virtual commercial value of Health Services and Education of the children of Civil Service workers.

Unemployment as a result of retrenchment and closures of enterprises which brings more people under the dependency of “ordinary” workers, which were mostly the Civil Service workers which is a burden on their wages.

Unfortunately, the policies of adjustment which necessitated massive retrenchment of civil servants as a result of the deregulation in the Civil Service, instability in the exchange rate and currency devaluation which peaked at about 80% in 1995, led to stiff opposition of the Labour Movement. And also with the existence of the wage freeze, which is against the spirit of collective bargaining of the civil servants all these resulted to several strikes and official protest.


This study examined the SAP scenario during Babangida’s regime and why interest groups in Nigeria were opposed to it, the Members of Nigerian Civil Service Union (NCSU) tried all what they could with several numbers of protest but to no avail. This work has further provided the impacts of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) on the civil service, which had affected the civil service negatively to this extent. The civil service which has been one of the bedrock of the government was not considered even before the introduction of the policy (SAP). Therefore this study provided the following recommendation which the government must put into consideration before adopting any policy into the economy.

Proper sensitization and enlightenment programmes should be carried out before government’s introduction of new policies such as SAP to assuage the fear of the general public.

Implementation of SAP should have a human face. Massive retrenchment of workers, removal of subsidies and privatization of public enterprises without a safety net to cushion their effects on the people will generate discontentment among the populace.

Government should be prudent in the management of resources at its disposal. There would not have been any need for SAP if the political leaders were prudent in the management of the abundant human and natural resources with which the nation is endowed.

Political leaders should imbibe the principle of good governance. Cases of mismanagement are rare when there is good governance. Political leaders of Nigeria and their bureaucratic henchmen should display the spirit of accountability and transparency in their dealings with public property and funds, in accordance with international best practices.

Anyanwu, I.C., (1989) Towards Increased Mobilisation and Effective Management of Resources for Secondary Health Care in Nigeria, paper presented at the National Workshop on the “Assessment of Secondary Health Care Facilities in Nigeria” ,Nicon-Noga Hilton Hotel and International
Mu’Azu M. Yusuf, (28 January, 2008). Structural Adjustment Programme and Nigerian Labour Movement. Kano: Retrieved from on 18th June, 2015.
Babawale, T., (1997). Adjustment Policies and their Impacts on Labour: The Nigeria Experience. Lagos Nigeria, Nagarlok Publisher Ltd.
Akpan h. Ekpo, (2004). The Economics of Structural Adjustment and the Adjustment Of Economics. Akwa Ibom, Uyo University Press.
National Centre for Economic Management & Administration(NCEMA), (2007) structural adjustment programme in Nigeria: causes, processes and Outcomes; Retrieved from on 19th June 2015.
Ojo M. O. (1989) “An Appraisal of the Socioeconomic Impact of Structural AdjustmentProgrammes in Nigeria” in Economic and Financial Review, Vol 27, No 1, March 38-57.

Toye, J. (1995). Structural adjustment and employment policy. Geneva: International Labour Office.

Ayeni, V.A. (1987).’’The civil servant and the policy process’’ in O.A; Olusola O. and Ayeni, V (eds).The impact of military on rule, London: The Macmillan Press Ltd.
Okereke, O.O.(2003). The Nigerian civil service after the structural adjustment programme: some critical reminiscences. Nigerian Journal of Politics and Administration Vol . No.3.


About emmanuelabii

Emmanuel is a profound researcher, who has gone through various academic research processes at Veritas University Abuja, and whose motive is to create a platform where this research works can serve as secondary source to other researchers in search of qualitative data.....
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s