Budget cut, incompetence and scarcity of resources have been identified as some of the challenges mitigating effective innovation in the public sector. Stakeholders argued that while profit and cost-saving drive the private sector, the public sector creates the space where innovation can be developed thus making the private sector operate effectively.
The challenges were identified by stakeholders at a capacity building training for the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) which is organised by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) in Lagos.
The project manager and facilitator, Innovation Management System for NIRP and UNIDO, Dr Raymond Tavares who spoke on the theme: “Innovation in the Public Sector”, stated that improving innovation management system is key as organisations that innovate effectively have leaders that challenge the status quo and build an inspiring purpose.
According to him, they set the direction for innovation, assign the resources needed and are continually engaged in achieving the purpose.
For some government parastatals who are yet to measure up with the trend, he advised them to, “go beyond your ministries and learn the innovation there, most time change happens in other ministries. Go and learn the new change and bring it to your ministry.”
He said: “Obviously, it is about being creative. It is the best way not to hinder innovation of the private sector. There are some conditions that need to be met in order to facilitate organisations to be innovative, like interaction with the external world, sourcing of information internally and externally.
He said government should be put in place policies, right instrument and measures to motivate and convince public servant to think differently, noting that this is what is missing because most of the time they think that innovation is not for them.
Some of the participants who spoke to The Guardian said despite the challenges which they hinged on the bureaucratic nature of public service, innovation is the way to go, because it is about doing things differently, adding value and ensuring improvement in processes, methods and services.
According to the Director, Engineering, Technology, Innovation & Infrastructure, SMEDAN, David Abu Ozigi, for any organisation to remain impactful it should necessarily embrace innovation; be it a business entity or government MDA.
“Talking about the organisation where I work, SMEDAN, adopting inter -departmental project teams can reduce processing time (of our intervention schemes for MSMEs) to 10%. This way, a submission need not spend a long time in one department, before it is passed to two or more departments before it gets to management, for approval. This way processing is drastically improved, yet there is no loss of necessary input from various disciplines/departments”, he added.