The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) says plan by the Federal Government to slash salaries of Federal civil servants is “provocative’’.
NASU made this known in a statement by its General Secretary, Mr Peters Adeyemi on Sunday in Abuja.
It will be recalled that Mrs Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, had given the hint on May 4, at the National Policy Dialogue on Corruption and Cost of Governance in Nigeria, organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in Abuja.
Ahmed said during the dialogue that the review of salaries of civil servants and some federal agencies were part of measures to reduce cost of governance.
She said the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) had been directed to review salaries of civil servants and some federal agencies.
Reacting, Adeyemi said the union conceded that President Muhammadu Buhari had refused to yield to the pressure from some individuals in his administration, who continued to urge him to retrench workers.
”We also note that his administration continues to pay salaries regularly. To us in NASU, these are among the actions of this government that are commendable.
”There is, however, no other way of looking at the current decision of the Federal Government other than a victory for those in the administration, who continue to be insensitive to the plight of Nigerian workers.
”Unfortunately, rather than leaving workers to remain in their current state of want, they have decided to provoke and incite them against the same government they are working for.
“No government official who wishes Nigerian workers well and is interested in the peace of the country will advise on this line of policy direction at this time, when workers are still struggling with the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Adeyemi said that this was rather unfortunate at a time when the cost of living was extremely high as a result of hyper-inflation, extreme cost of food items as well as increases in electricity tariffs and the cost of Premium Motor Spirit or petrol.
The unionist reminded the minister and others in government that the principal factor that was responsible for bloated recurrent expenditure was the salaries and allowances of political office holders.
”There are duplication of functions among these officials, who include but not limited to ministers, ministers of state, special advisers, special assistants and their retinue of personal staff.
”This was well captured in the report of the Adamu Fika Committee, set up by former President Goodluck Jonathan to review Public Sector Reforms,” he said.
Adeyemi said that the committee had expressed displeasure on the matter.
He said that it was certainly not morally defensible from the perspective of social justice or any known moral criterion that such a huge sum of public funds was consumed by an infinitesimal fraction of people.
”The irony is that the people who are the beneficiaries of this bloated allowances are the ones who are the apostles of the current policy direction.
”This does not end with political office holders in the executive arm of government; the same goes for those in the legislative arm of government, senators and members of the House of Representatives and their retinue of aides,” he said.
He said that the misinformation by some political office holders to the uninformed public was that government was spending a huge sum of its revenue on civil servants’ salaries and wages.
He said salaries and wages of civil servants were not the sole component of the recurrent expenditure of government.
Adeyemi said that the recurrent expenditures include all payments other than capital assets such as salaries and wages of civil servants, bogus salaries and allowances of political office holders, among others.
”If government is sincerely interested in reducing the cost of governance, it should be bold and sincere enough to throw the search light at political office holders and members of the legislative arm of government.
”We plead with President Buhari to have a rethink of this policy direction of his government at a time when for the same economic reasons, a country like the U. S. is considering raising her minimum pay to 15 dollars an hour.
”To continue on this line of policy will only provoke Nigerian workers and incite them toward negative actions that may lead to unintended outcomes,” Adeyemi said.