…Describes proposal as insensitive, provocative
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASU, has warned the federal government to have a rethink in the alleged proposal to reduce salaries of Federal civil servants, describing the pronouncement as an act of insensitivity, provocative and inciting.
Recall that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, was quoted to have said that the review of salaries of civil servants and some Federal agencies was part of measures to reduce cost of governance.
She stated this at a National Policy Dialogue on Corruption and Cost of Governance in Nigeria organized by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, in Abuja.
She was reported to have said that the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) has been directed to review salaries of civil servants and some Federal agencies.
Reacting to the proposal, NASU in a statement issued by its General Secretary, Prince Peters Adeyemi, pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and ensure that such proposal did not see the light of the day.
According to the statement, “We concede that President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to yield to the pressure from some individuals in his administration, who continue 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 abject poverty, 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 COVID-19 pandemic.
“A time when the cost of living is 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 (petrol).
“The reason given by the Minister of Finance for this policy statement is the desire of the government to reduce cost of governance. We wish to remind the Minister and her co-travelers, that the principal factor that is responsible for bloated recurrent expenditure is the salaries and allowances of political office holders.”
He noted that the Report of the Adamu Fika Committee set up by former President Goodluck Jonathan to review Public Sector Reforms had uncovered duplication of functions among government officials which in turn cost government huge money that would have been utilized in some other critical areas.
He said, “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.
“The Committee expressed displeasure on the matter thus: “It is certainly not morally defensible from the perspective of social justice or any known moral criterion, that such a huge sum of public funds is consumed by an infinitesimal fraction of people.”
“The irony is that the people who are the beneficiaries of this bloated allowance 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.
“The lie dubious political office holders sell to the uninformed public is that government is spending a huge sum of its revenue on civil servants’ salaries and wages, whereas, salaries and wages of civil servants are not the sole component of the recurrent expenditure of government.
“Recurrent expenditure includes all payments other than for capital assets, including salaries and wages of civil servants, bogus salaries and allowances of political office holders, their travels both foreign and domestic, interest repayments on foreign and domestic loans, bogus subsidies and other overheads of government.
“If government is sincerely interested in reducing the cost of governance, she 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 Muhammadu 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 United States of America 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 towards negative actions that may lead to unintended outcomes.”