BY DEMOLA AKINYEMI & Emman Ovuakporie
ILORIN—Following the heat generated by the call of the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mallam Lamido Sanusi on the Federal Government to sack half of its workforce, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Chukwuemeka Wogu, yesterday, assured that no worker would lose his job as the government was even desirous of creating more jobs for Nigerians.
Sanusi in a paper he presented at the 2nd Annual Capital Market Committee Retreat in Warri, Delta State, had stressed the need to prune membership of the National Assembly as well as the number of states and local governments in the country, among others.
The Labour Minister who spoke in Ilorin at the 8th National Labour Relations Summit and Fellowship Award held at the Michael Imodu National Institute for Labour Studies(MINILS), said rather than sack workers, the government has already set up job creation committee that would commence work next week on how to create more jobs in all sectors of the economy to achieve more success on the transformational agenda of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
According to him, “no worker will be sacked. Nobody should be afraid, the government is desirous of creating more jobs for Nigerians”.
He noted that,”though job creation is more of private sector activities, but the federal government has created an enabling environment for private sector to thrive. The government has also made a special effort on agriculture, power, ICT, tourism and recently SURE-P programme of the government in its efforts to provide jobs for Nigerians”.
Sanusi, economist of political turbulence — Reps
Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives, yesterday, hit back at Sanusi, describing him as an economist of political turbulence over his call for a 50 per cent cut in the nation’s civil service.
Reacting to the issues raised by the CBN boss at a press briefing, Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Victor Ogene described Sanusi as “an economist with a bias for creating political turbulence,” who had also not succeeded in pushing through, any of his controversial policies.
The Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was also not spared over her ministry’s inability to cash-back the balance of N300 billion of the capital allocation in the 2012 budget to government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) one month after promising to do so.
He said he did not know Sanusi to be a political economist, adding that “the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) had succinctly replied the CBN Governor over the controversial comments”.
He explained that “it was ironical for him to make such recommendations when there have been astronomical increase in the workforce of the CBN since he assumed office. For me, I will say physician heal thyself,” the lawmaker noted.
He stressed that “checks had revealed that before Sanusi was appointed CBN Governor, its workforce was 5,022 but had risen to 6,015 since he assumed office”, adding that there have been reported cases of acrimony in the bank due to unfair promotion of personnel during his tenure.
He argued that the CBN had an annual expenditure profile of about N300 billion and that Sanusi had never deemed it fit to subject such to public scrutiny as a mark of accountability.
“What solution has he proffered as an economist? How can he recommend a 50 per cent reduction in the civil service when we are talking of rising unemployment and high level of insecurity? As an economist, I think he should proffer something that would grow the economy instead,” the lawmaker added.
While expressing optimism that the 2013 budget would be passed before the House proceeds on Christmas recess, Ogene disclosed that it was, however, still worried over the releases of capital funds to the MDAs.
He said the practice of “anticipatory releases” was not acceptable to the House, as much can still be done before the year ends if the fourth quarter releases were cash-backed early enough.
Facts available were that only about 75 per cent of N1.3 trillion Capital component of the 2012 Appropriation had been accessed by MDAs, just with a month to the end of the year”.
LCCI, others react
Reacting to Sanusi’s comment, the Regional Managing Partner for West Africa, Ernst &Young (EY), Mr. Henry Egbiki, said: All I can say is that government can reduce recurrent expenditure through blocking of leakages.”
Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf said: “The chamber is not in support of the Sanusi’s call to cut government work force by half, and that will be too drastic an action to take. The social implication will be profound. But the principle of cutting down on cost of governance is good. Personnel cost is only one of the many components of this cost. The approach should therefore be holistic.”
In his reaction, Managing Director of Linkage Assurance Plc, Mr. Gus Wiggle said: “A situation whereby state governments use up about 70 per cent of their state allocation to pay salaries of civil servants, is not ideal, however, the economy of the country is not strong enough to withstand the sack of about 50 per cent of the workforce.”