Nigerian workers have asked Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, president-elect, not to listen to the advice to decapitate the civil service
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Apr. 27, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
THE recent suggestion by Olisa Agbakoba, former president, Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, that the incoming administration should decapitate the civil service so that government can have more money for capital projects, is generating reaction from the civil servants. The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN, has advised Muhammadu Buhari, President-elect, not to listen to misguided activists and failed experts who have started advising him to retrench civil servants.
The ASCSN, in a statement by Alade Lawal, its secretary-general, expressed surprise that an incoming administration, which pledged to create employment opportunities for millions of Nigerians as one of its cardinal programmes, was already being advised to retrench civil servants under the guise that the civil service is over-bloated.
The organisation says Nigeria’s population is estimated at 160 million while the staff strength in the core civil service is about 100,000 (0.06 percent of the country’s population). “The public service itself which comprises the core civil service, the Armed Forces and the Police, Immigration, Customs and Federal Universities, is about 970,000 (0.61 percent of the country’s population). So, where do these ‘experts’ get their facts that the civil service is bloated. We challenge all those making this unsubstantiated claim to a public debate on the issue,” he said.
The ASCSN enjoined Buhari to beware of fifth columnists who were in the habit of pushing every government to embark on anti-people policies which invariably would lead it to a collision course with the people. The union wondered why these activists and experts maintained criminal silence while the treasury was being looted by the outgoing government officials at the centre.
Lawal argued that it was the political office holders with their retinue of special and ordinary advisers, senior, junior, and ordinary assistants and all manner of other political appointees that gulped public finances in Nigeria. According to him, it is common knowledge that Nigerian political office holders, including lawmakers and members of the executive arm of government, are the highest paid in the world, most of them receiving more than the president of the United States of America. “So, if the APC government is desirous to make meaningful change, it should do well to drastically reduce the humongous emoluments of political office holders to bring it in tandem with the salary in the public service and equally trim the innumerable number of sycophants politicians recruit as personal aides.”
The ASCSN posited that civil servants in Nigeria were the least paid in Africa, South of the Sahara with a meagre monthly national minimum wage of N18,000 which is not being paid by many state governments in the country. “As we write, civil servants and their dependants moan and groan under the pain and pang of poverty because their miserable pay-packets cannot cater for their basic needs in an environment where every citizen is running a mini-government for himself or herself.”
Agbakoba in an interview with Vanguard newspaper on April 5, said the incoming government should decapitate the civil service. “This is very important now, and I think General Buhari has alluded to it. If people are coming to the National Assembly with a view that they will receive the kind of emoluments they receive, let Buhari make it clear that they won’t get it. Let him make it clear that if a lawmaker thinks he will be getting over N600 million representing the people, and we have more than 60 million unemployed Nigerians, let him (Buhari) make it loud and clear that his administration will not let it happen.
“Again, we need to take up the Stephen Oronsaye Committee Report. If you read that report, it rationalises out 30 percent of the civil service. So, the civil service is over-bloated and needs to be cut down, in favour of capital projects. Again, considering the dwindling oil price, one big area the new administration should look into is the maritime sector. The money in the maritime sector is unbelievable as you can see that Apapa, in Lagos, is the largest port in Central West African zone. Particularly, as the government has declared a highly progressive social security policy of distributing benefits to the poor people, it has to look for money,” he said.
The ball is now the court of the President-elect to decide whether to decapitate the civil service or increase the work force of the civil service. Nigerians are watching.