The Impact of Employee Motivation in the Nigerian Civil Service

The Impact of Employee Motivation in the Nigerian Civil Service: A Case Study of Lagos State.

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Executive Summary

The Nigerian civil service has a commemoration of highly skilled and productive workforce. But, like every other sector, the civil service is a functional bureaucracy rife with individual and group practices that are considered a deviation from core values of the governmental administrative system. Poor work ethics among public servants is a common characteristic of the sector. Other issues related to commitment, impartiality, integrity, objectivity and the rule of law have lingered for many decades. However, a major challenge is how to reinforce these core values.

Using the Lagos State Civil Service as a case study, this project explores how motivation shapes engagement and effectiveness among civil servants. This study also analysed relevant issues such as the impact of regular salary payments (and other incentives) on performance to ascertain whether civil servants are motivated by a sense of civic duty. Through a literature review, interviews, focus groups, and online surveys, the researcher investigated various challenges to the growth of civil service in Nigeria. Challenges such as the ghost worker syndrome, corruption, resistance to change management, slow adoption of technology, among others, were also examined to identify major causes of low productivity among civil servants. Every research respondent was a current or past employee of the Lagos State Civil Service. Inferences and recommendations were drawn from a qualitative analysis involving both primary and secondary data. Summary discussion, conclusion, suggestions for further research, and implications of the study are some of the study highlights.


The project uncovered some key drivers and setbacks to employee/organizational performance. For example, electronic data management system has been integrated to payroll in order to reduce losses from employees with multiple jobs. A central database system with biometric verification is in use to monitor time and attendance. But the civil service is overstaffed with relatively idle workers whose impact on the wage bill further impoverishes federal, state, and local government resources. Worse still, pending monthly salaries and promotion arrears have been a strong source of discouragement, laziness and unethical practices among civil servants. Despite these mitigating factors, the Lagos State government has a huge focus on building infrastructure and increasing investment in human capacity development to enable civil servants create sustainable value for the metropolis and country at large.

The Nigerian Civil Service consists of federal, state, and local government employees, including workers in government agencies other than the military and police. Structure of the Nigerian civil service is hinged on ministerial departments headed by ministers at the federal level. At the state level, civil service commissions function under the supervision of commissioners. Ministers and commissioners serve as the political and executive heads of their various ministries and commissions respectively. Basically, the civil service is responsible for the implementation of governmental policies and programmes. Thus, the Nigerian civil service plays numerous administrative and executive functions which include policy research, as well as the formulation and implementation of development programmes in different ministries such as finance, health, and foreign affairs.

The complex nature of civil service requires commitment to service on the part of civil servants who are mandated to show loyalty to any government in power. Nigerian Civil service employees are therefore prohibited from active participation in politics but are allowed to vote during elections. More importantly, employees of the federal, state, and local government civil service commissions are answerable only to the ministers and commissioners of their various ministries and departments, so they are not allowed to share sensitive information with the press, unless otherwise directed. On this backdrop, the characteristics of civil service include job security political neutrality, loyalty to the government and/or any political party in power and anonymity (non-disclosure of confidential information to the media). These characteristics highlight the important roles of civil servants in governance, a reason why this social research will examine the relevance of human and non-human factors in organizational management, as well as the interplay between motivation and employee productivity (Abah & Nwokwu, 2016, p. 9).

Research Approach & Methodology

The study will involve a mix of primary and secondary analytical approaches to critically examine concepts, theories or philosophies of management and employee motivation, as well as to correctly analyse statistical data. The researcher will therefore use inductive and deductive reasoning to draw inferences where necessary to enable logical generalizations and verification of data-based scientific assumptions. Qualitative research will be done through questionnaires and the data analyzed on an ordinal scale. Quantitative method will also be used, based management related issues within the civil service sector. Some relevant topics to be analysed in this study are:

  • The impact of regular salary payments on the civil servants in Lagos
  • Can Lagos State be used as a benchmark for civil service employee motivation in other states in Nigeria?
  • How management style influence employee motivation

The primary focus of this study is to gather information on why and how the Nigerian civil service lost its reputation for professionalism, innovativeness, transparency, excellence, meritocracy, and productiveness, among other values and ethics (Tolu et al, 2021, p.6). Therefore, research correspondents are expected to answer questions on the availability of financial and non-financial motivation, including the positive or negative impact of job responsibilities, work process, and interpersonal relationships at their various workplaces. Other areas of significance related to motivation and job satisfaction are:

  • Recognition as an individual and member of a group
  • Relationship between employees and management
  • Fairness, equity, and inclusiveness in policy matters
  • Job security
  • Availability of health care and education programmes (Eyong et al, 2017, p.5)
  • Safety issues

 Information gathered in these areas will be used to fill the gaps in existing literatures on motivation theories, employee/organizational performance, in the Nigerian civil service.

The survey method of collating primary data will involve use of online questionnaires to be filled and returned via email with some members of the focus groups (civil servants in Lagos state). Sample research questions are:

  • What motivates you at work?
  • How does the job enable you take care of your basic needs?
  • How does relationship with your employer encourage you at work?

Secondary Research:

Secondary research will involve reviewing and analyzing existing study and data on the subject matter such as:

  • Akpan, P. A & Inyang, A. B. (2018). Motivation and employee engagement in the civil service: The Nigerian experience.
  • Abah, E. O. & Nwokwu, P. M. (2016). Workplace motivation and employee productivity in the Nigerian public organizations: The federal radio corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) experience.
  • Lasisi, O. I. & Benson., S. K. (2019). Managing rewards in the civil service: implications for employees’ performance in Lagos state. Nigeria.
  • Mazzacuto, M. (2019, April). Public Sector Innovation-The Secret of Capitalism’s Success?

Further desk research will be carried out using other relevant literature listed in the bibliography on the impact of motivation on public sector employees. These documents are readily available in public libraries, academic websites, and data will also be obtained from government agencies websites such as The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics ( and Lagos State Civil Service Commission ( Most of the existing studies on this topic is available as peer reviewed publications on https://www.academia.edu and as journals on

As the public sector is important in driving a country’s sustainability goals and improving GDP, data from United Nations Nigeria website ( and the United Nations Development Program website ( will be analyzed to validate how a motivated civil service sector can facilitate Nigeria in meeting its United nations sustainability goals and improving the welfare of its citizens.

Primary Research:

        Primary research will be used to align and customize the data to the objectives of researcher. Primary research will pinpoint data collation from civil servants in Lagos State to identify gaps in motivation and be able to make recommendations for solutions. A questionnaire will be designed to collect the required data on motivation and job satisfaction of Lagos State civil servants. To solicit information required to meet some of the research goals, primary data will be collated using online questionnaires sent out to an equal mix of 30 female and male civil servants, from five selected ministries. The respondents will be selected based on their years of service, drawing from a pool of employees who have five years and below experience in the public sector; and a pool of employees who have been employed for between five to ten years.  The respondents will be sent an Invitation to Participate letter and a Consent letter along with the questionnaire. The letters will highlight how any data collected will be used and the importance confidentiality and anonymity for their participation. The researcher will send the questionnaires through the departmental secretaries to be distributed based on the identified demographic of gender and years of service.

        The primary focus of this study is to gather information on the link between motivation and employee engagement in the Nigerian civil service. Therefore, research correspondents are expected to answer questions which will provide an insight to the availability of financial and non-financial motivation, including the positive or negative impact of job responsibilities and work processes at their various workplaces. Information gathered in these areas will be used to fill the gaps in existing literature on motivation theories and employee performance, in the Nigerian civil service. The questionnaires are to be filled and returned via email by members of the focus groups; 15 male and 15 female civil servants in Lagos state split between workers employed for five years or under and workers employers for five years and over.

Sample research questions are:

  1. I am satisfied with the recognition I get for doing my job well
  2. I arrive at the office on time and do not leave early
  3. I do not engage in other personal side business while at work
  4. The work I do is interesting and engaging
  5. My job gives me a sense of purpose and I feel I am contributing to public welfare

The data collected will be analyzed on an ordinal scale ranking based on:

  • Strongly agree
  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • Strongly disagree

Some relevant topics to be analysed through the research are:

  1. Can Lagos State be used as a benchmark for civil service employee motivation in other states in Nigeria?
  2. The impact of regular salary payments and other incentives on the civil servants in Lagos
  3. Are civil servants motivated by a sense of civic duty?

        The geographic focus will be the civil service in Lagos State, which has one of the largest civil service sectors in Nigeria. Lagos state also has the highest internally generated revenue in Nigeria and is one of the very few states that is consistent with making salary payments to civil servants as scheduled. The responses from Lagos State will be juxtaposed against identified existing secondary data from published materials and analysis carried out to identify the gaps and areas of improvement, first within the Lagos Sate civil service and secondly how the findings can be transferred for improvement of the civil service in other states of Nigeria.

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