- It is Arbitrary, Cruel, Draconian – NLC National Secretariat
- State Council Sets Up Strategic Planning C’ttee; Holds Prayer Session Wednesday
THE Kaduna State government on Monday unveiled a comprehensive plan for a massive retrenchment of employments of the state stating that it was necessary to salvage the finances of the state as a significant amount of the state’s statutory allocations is being spent on the payment of wages of public servants.
The announcement, which was made public in a statement by Mr Muyiwa Adekeye, Special Adviser (Media & Communication) to the Governor Nasir el-Rfuai, stated that the decision “is a painful but necessary step to take, for the sake of the majority of the people of this state.”
The unveiling of the massive retrenchment plan is in line with Governor el-Rufai’s signature policy since he assumed office in 2015. In 2017, when he was barely two years in office, el-Rufail carried out a massive purge in which he laid off over 21,000 teachers and local government employees.
Despite appeals and threats from the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and the NLC, he refused to reverse the decision as he eventually had his way in spite of protestations from organised labour in the state and national levels.
Emboldened by the failure of organised labour to check his offensive and anti-worker policies, el-Rufai has now embarked on a full-scale war against workers. Just last week, the governor gave approval to the sack of over four thousand employees of the state’s local governments.
Under the current plan, the governor, according to the contents of a letter written to him from the NLC National Secretariat in Abuja, has plotted to among other things compulsorily retire officers that are 50 years and above; compulsorily retire officers on grade levels 14 and above; even if they are less than fifty years; convert to casual workers all category of officers on grade levels 01-06; and has directed that no local government in the state should have more than 50 staff strength.
If carried out to the letter, this planned lay off of Kaduna workers will be on record to be the greatest mass sack in the history of Nigeria with over 60 to 70 thousand jobs in the state’s public service on the line.
The fear now within labour circles is that, if Governor el-Rufai is allowed to successfully implement his mass retrenchment policy, other states, including the federal public service, are very likely to follow suit in a spree of mass sacks across the country.
Governor Not Elected to Just Pay Salaries of Public Servants
While the government has denied some of the details contained of the mass sack as contained in NLC’s letter to the governor, it has however admitted that Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) have been informed to “expedite payments of any contributory pension benefits due to those so entitled to them.”
Mr Adekeye, the governor’s spokesperson, also noted that the government will give preferential treatment to those disengaged that are willing to take advantage of the state government’s various agricultural and entrepreneurship development schemes.
According to Mr Adekeye, the government of Governor el-Rufai has no choice but to shed some weight and reduce the size of the state’s public service, which he said is less than 100 thousand and their families but consuming more than 90% of government resources.
He said under this scenario, the government is left with little “to positively impact” on the lives of the more than 9 million that are not political appointees or civil servants.
Describing the situation as “gross injustice for such a micro minority to consume the majority of the resources of the State,” Mr Adekeye further justified the impending mass sack arguing that in the past six months, personnel costs have accounted for between 84.97% and 96.63% of FAAC transfers received by the state.
“What the Kaduna State Government receives from FAAC since the middle of 2020, like most other sub-nationals, can barely pay salaries and overheads. In November 2020, KDSG had only N162.8m left after paying salaries. That month, Kaduna State got N4.83bn from FAAC and paid N4.66bn as wages.
“In the last six months, personnel costs have accounted for between 84.97% and 96.63% of FAAC transfers received by the Kaduna State Government. In March 2021, Kaduna State had only N321m left after settling personnel costs. That month, the state got N4.819bn from FAAC and paid out N4.498bn, representing 93% 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.
“This Kaduna State Government was elected to develop the state, not just to pay the salaries of public servants. It was elected to promote equality of opportunity to build and run schools and hospitals, upgrade infrastructure and make the state more secure and attractive to the private sector for jobs and investments. Under the leadership of Malam Nasir El-Rufai, the Kaduna State Government is faithfully implementing this mandate, amidst challenges and constraints
“The government is an institution organised to deliver public goods, not to minister solely to the interests of the persons employed to help deliver mandate. 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. The public service of the state with less than 100,000 employees and their families) cannot be consuming more than 90% 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. It is gross injustice for such a micro minority to consume the majority of the resources of the State,” the statement said.
According to Adekeye, the extent of the required actions of government is being worked out at both the state and local government levels, a process he said is “based on very transparent and objective criteria across all the three branches of the Government.”
He cautioned the public that “stories circulating in the social media about pruning local government personnel to 50, converting junior staff to casual staff and the like [as] false and should therefore be disregarded.”
While asserting that these stories are “false claims” and “rehash of the contents of a forged letter that was circulated just prior to the 2019 elections,” he argued that “each and every decision taken will be in full compliance with the Kaduna State Public Service Law and any regulations made pursuant thereto, and other extant laws.”
He said though the government is not unmindful of the “short term psychological and financial impacts on the persons to be affected, he assured of government’s preparedness to work with “the Pension Fund Administrators (PFAS) to expedite payments of any contributory pension benefits due to those so entitled to them but will also give preferential treatment to those disengaged that are willing to take advantage of the state government’s various agricultural and entrepreneurship development schemes.”
NLC National Secretariat Reacts
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in its reaction described the plan massive sack as arbitrary and cruel and threatened to take every legitimate action to resist the “draconian and insensitive move by the el-Rufai government.
In a letter to Governor el-Rufai, dated 9th April, 2021, entitled “Re: Rationalisation and Conversion to Casual Engagement of Workers by the Kaduna State Government,” Comrade Ayuba Wabba, President of NLC, drew the governor’s attention to a letter by Dr Salisu Suleiman, Principal Private Secretary to Governor Nasir El-Refai addressed to Kaduna State Head of Service.
According to Comrade Wabba, the letter with reference number GH/KD/5, which conveyed the decision of the Kaduna State government gave four directives which include:
“1. Compulsory retirement of officers that are 50 years old and above;
“2. Compulsory retirement of officers on grade Level 14 and Above; even if they are less than fifty years;
“3. Conversion to casual workers all category of officers on Grade Level 01-06; and
“4. The directive that no Local Government in Kaduna State shall have more than 50 staff strength.”
While stating that redundancy letters are already being issued to workers, Wabba reminded told Governor el-Rufai that his draconian and insensitive policies “has humongous impact on the livelihood and survival of thousands of Kaduna State workers and their families.”
He further said: “Succinctly put, this purge of Kaduna State workforce with unjust, arbitrary and illegal mass sack especially amidst the great difficulties and hardship occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic is a poorly conceived, extremely wrong, and morally indefensible industrial policy. This policy also has very huge implications for the already parlous unemployment and security situation in Kaduna State and the country at large. The pervading fear and is that the security crisis in Kaduna State will worsen when breadwinners are deprived of legitimate income and their families put in disarray.
“We write to demand that Your Excellency quickly reverses the so-called rationalization and casualization of Kaduna State workers. If this unsavoury situation persists, Organised Labour will not hesitate to fall back on the lawful options available to workers to pursue justice in this matter.”
State Council Sets Up Strategic Planning C’ttee; Holds Prayer Session Wednesday
Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Council of the NLC, has assured its members that steps are being taken to engage the state government to reverse itself on the planned sack.
Comrade Ayuba Magaji Suleiman, NLC’s Kaduna State Council Chairperson, disclosed this on Monday in a statement in Kaduna. He acknowledged that Comrade Wabba’s letter to Governor el-Rufai had been delivered and that workers were watching and waiting to have feedback from NLC headquarters in Abuja.
“We are holding meeting with stakeholders tomorrow (Tuesday) where we intend to look at the situation and decide on what to do. There would be a prayer session on Wednesday on the sack of workers and insecurity in the state.
“We have formed a strategic planning committee to guide our actions. We have informed the national Secretariat, I have spoken with the national president and he had equally written a letter to Governor Nasir El-Rufai. After the letter, the National Executive Committee (NEC) would meet and decide on what next to do.
“So, we are expecting the direction from the national secretariat to enable us know what our next line of action will be.
“Kaduna State government has been underestimating the power of workers in the state. Governor Nasir el-Rufai did similar thing in 2017, when he sacked over 21,000 workers despite our appeals, he refused to revert the decision.
“He has sacked thousands of local government workers before we held our emergency SEC meeting last week, Monday, and appealed to him but he is going ahead to make the threat to sack thousands of state government workers real. When our national secretariat decides, we will take necessary action.”