By Adedapo Adesanya
The Governor of Kaduna State, Mr Nasir El-Rufai, has explained the reason his administration is trimming the workforce of the state’s public service is due to the dwindling financial resources and higher wage bills which the government cannot be able to sustain, noting that the exercise will help the government to save scarce funds.
The Kaduna state government had on April 6 disengaged 4,000 local government workers and this development has raised dust, especially from the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
The body kicked against the decision, calling on the state government to reverse the decision and seek alternative means of running its affairs without inflicting additional pains on the public.
In a statement signed by his spokesman, Mr Muyiwa Adekeye, Governor El-Rufai insisted that the government was not elected just to pay salaries of public servants alone, but to also develop the state by building schools, hospitals, upgrading infrastructure and making the state more secure and attractive to the private sector for jobs and investments.
Mr El-Rufai pointed out that what it has been receiving from the federal allocation committee since the middle of 2020, like most other sub-nationals, can barely pay salaries and overheads, adding that in the last six months, personnel costs have accounted for between 84.97 per cent and 96.63 per cent of Federation Account Allocation Communication (FAAC) transfers received by the Kaduna State Government.
“In November 2020, KDSG had only N162.9 million left after paying salaries. That month, Kaduna State got N4.83 billion from FAAC and paid N4.66 billion as wages. In March 2021, Kaduna State had only N321 million left after settling personnel costs,” a part of the statement read.
The statement pointed out that “last month, the state got N4.819 billion from FAAC and paid out N4.498 billion, representing 93 per cent of the money received.
‘’This does not include standing orders for overheads, funding security operations, running costs of schools and hospitals, and other overhead costs that the state has to bear for the machinery of government to run, for which the state government taps into IGR earnings.”
The Kaduna State Government said it believes that the overall wages of the public sector are still relatively low, noting that the current levels were obviously limited by the resources available to the government.
The government further argued that the public service of the state with less than 100,000 employees (and their families) cannot be consuming more than 90 per cent of government resources, with little left to positively impact the lives of the more than 9 million that are not political appointees or civil servants, adding that it is gross injustice for such a micro-minority to consume the majority of the resources of the state.
In addition, it pointed out that the measures which the government took to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic have shown clearly that the public service requires much fewer persons than it currently employs.
The statement recalled that “in September 2019, Kaduna State Government became the first government in the country to pay the new minimum wage and consequential adjustments. The state government followed this up by increasing the minimum pension of persons on the defined benefits scheme to N30,000 monthly.
“This step to advance the welfare of workers significantly increased the wage burden of the state government and immediately sapped up the funds of many local governments.”
According to the state government, “what each public servant earns might be puny in comparison to private-sector wages, but the total wage bill consumes much of the revenues of the state.
‘’Therefore, the state government has no choice but to shed some weight and reduce the size of the public service. It is a painful but necessary step to take, for the sake of the majority of the people of this state.”
While justifying the job cut, the statement, however, described it “as a painful but necessary step to take, for the sake of the majority of the people of this state.”
The Governor further said that the rationalisation exercise will also affect political appointees, stating that its purpose is to save funds and ensure that a strong and efficient public service exists to use those resources to implement progressive programmes and projects for the people, and thereby develop the state.
‘’The public service is an important institution, and it should therefore maintain only an optimum size.
“Faced with a difficult situation, the Kaduna State Government is persuaded that it cannot refuse to act or act in ways that only conduce to populist sentiment, without solving the fundamental problem,” he said.
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