Information needs of policy makers in Nigeria: the case of Imo State civil service.

Author:Anyanwu, Emmanual U.
 
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Introduction

The civil service as an essential government agency has a major role to play in planning and policy making. For policy making to be effective, there must be accurate planning. Planning begins with the gathering of relevant data and information on the proposed project. The information/data available determines whether the decision taken will be feasible or not.

Information is therefore very important for proper planning. Information is presently used to measure the wealth of any nation (Uhegbu and Nwokocha, 1998). It is now collected, stored, maintained and transmitted, applied bought and sold-all at a price. It has become a factor of production equal to land labour capital (Hughes, 1991). It is the life wire of societies and of the government. It is infact the basis of decision making and decisions can be as good as the information on which they are based. It is obvious that the Nigerian development objectives such as production of more food, improvement of standard of living, the provision of better health services, good education, sound economy and generation of knowledge through research required continued support. This is also true of government planning bodies involved in the co-ordination of various development programmes in the country (Aiyepeku, 1989).

In the civil service current and authentic information is required by policy maker at the states of policy formulation, planning, monitoring, decision making plan implementation and evaluation. The policy maker/senior civil servants form bulk of planner and initiators. For them to perform their duties effectively they need up to date information. In view of the key role of civil service in policy making and the important of information for development, it has become necessary to know the information needs of these senior civil servants to help them base their decisions on current, accurate and relevant data.

Purpose of the Study

The aims and objectives of this study are as follows:

  1. To identify the information needs of senior civil servants in Imo State Nigeria.

  2. To find out the extent to which the senior civil servants are satisfied with the services provided by government libraries.

  3. To determine the sources of information

  4. To identify the factors militating against access to information needs of senior civil servants.

    Statement of the Problem

    The positive impact of the policies made by senor civil servants is not felt by Imo State Citizens in particular and Nigeria in general. The services provided by the government which are based on these policies and decisions of policy makers are not adequate. This has resulted in continued economic deterioration with the result that people are fed up with the government. The issue at stake is that these senior civil servant/policy makers plan without data and facts. They engage in what Alegbeleye (1996) called "best guess estimating" "planning without fact" and "disjointed incrementalism".

    Literature Review

    Information is difficult to define. Opara (2003) sees information as capable of provoking action or inaction in a recipient. Information is also seen as an input which reduces the level of uncertainty in an individual or organization in decision process (Onasoke, 2005). Ratz (2007) sees information need as a gap in a person's knowledge that when experienced at the conscious level as a question gives rest to a search for answers. The civil servants need information in the performance of their official duties.

    Ayepeku (1983) defined the scope of the information needs of civil servants in a manner that will reinforce the concept of development need to resolve around the activities carried out by civil servants. These activities include finding facts, assessing trends, and diagnosing problems, identifying the needs, prescribing solution programmes and projects, operating programmes and projects, assessing impact of action and evaluating successes and failures. Information needs arise whenever individual finds themselves in a situation requiring knowledge to deal with situation as they deem fit (Tackie and Adams 2007:69)

    Tiamiyu (1991) looked at information needs by also identifying work activities carried out in the civil service. These work activities included evaluating project proposal, communicating with other ministries, publishing information on projects, implementing and inspecting projects writing reports on public policy issues, summarizing reports, gathering statistical information/data, evaluating reports complied by others, carrying out general administrative duties and providing direct public services among others.

    Tiamiyu (1991) further stated that civil servants need statistical information, directory information, procedural information, tax administration and general administrative information.

    Information is infact needed by policy makers, politicians, executives and people from all works of life, (Gupta, 1988).

    The sources of the information needs include newspaper, magazines, learned journals, books, monographs, in-house memoranda, (files), indexes, abstracts, conference proceedings, these and dissertation, bulletin form the private sector, government publications, consultancy reports and feasibility reports (Aiyepeku, 1989).

    On factors affecting access to information needs of government establishment, Akhidime (1996) identified the following; poor manpower, inadequate materials and equipment, the type of services rendered in the libraries, lack of awareness of importance of libraries and poor funding. Alegbeleye (1996) in his own contribution also identified some constraint to information needs. They include inadequate file classification inappropriate quality of paper and file covers which tend to deteriorate over time, mutilation and theft of government document, storage problem, absence of training for librarian and poor working condition of librarians.

    Methodology

    In the process of conducting this research, four ministries in Imo State were studied. The Ministries were Agriculture and Natural Resources; Commerce, and Industry; Information and...

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