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Massive Retrenchment of Kaduna Civil Servants, A Step Other States May Follow

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It is indisputable fact that the face-off between the Kaduna state government and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), in the last couple of days; a situation that brought the economic activities of the state to a standstill.

The NLC during the strike shut down the flow of electricity supply, water and medical services among others. It was halted on the third day of the proposed five days warning strike in the state due to the intervention of the Federal Government. However, the aftermath of the strike action had a significant negative effect on both the economic activities of the government and individuals.

Within the said days; Monday, 17th of May and Wednesday, 19th, May 2021, Kaduna state was in the global news like never before, with mixed reactions from both local, national and international analysts, being the centre of the northern Nigeria and a leading economy in the region with significant improved Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), which according to the state, the increase in the IGR is a great achievement of Mallam Nasir El-rufai’s administration.

However, investigation has revealed that the various sources of Internal Revenue available to Kaduna State Government includes Taxes, Fines and Fees, Licenses, Earnings  and Sales Generalas as well as Revenue collected from Fifty-Six (56) Revenue generating MDAs in the state.

In January, 2020, the state Internal Revenue Service generated ₦2,903,373,817.60, representing 79.63% of the budgeted amount, which shows that the Internal Revenue service performance increased by 10.12%  (₦266,783,297.89 absolute figures) in comparison to the State’s December, 2019 performance of N2,636,590,519.71.

Meanwhile, for the year 2021, the Kaduna state has directed KADIRS to ensure that the IGR was higher than the allocation to the state from the Federation Account, pegging an IGR target of N51 billion for the year, while the management of KADIRS has also ambitiously increase the target to N60 billion.

The state has over the years witnessed a consistent rise in its IGR; from N13.6 billion in 2015 to N23 billion in 2016, representing a 69.8 per cent growth. The IGR also increased to N26.9 billion in 2017 and was further raised to N29.4 billion in 2018. In 2019, the state generated N44.2 billion, surpassing the N41.7 targeted for the year, making the state becoming one of the top 10 among the federating units with Lagos state taking the lead in terms of IGR.

Despite the significant growth in the IGR of the state, in the last few years, the state has continuously reduced the workforce of the state civil servants through competency tests among other forms of assessments.

Though, states are not faring better in the face of the dwindling resources from the Federal Government, which mostly is the source of income to most states in the country, except for state like Lagos, Ogun, Rivers, and some few states in the country, with Kaduna state inclusive going by the rise in its IGR in the recent time.

However, it is on this background that many analysts frowned at the mass sack of the civil servants in the state since 2017, saying that the increase in the IGR of the state, as claimed by the El-rufai administration means nothing to the teeming population of the state, if he can not take advantage of the increase in the IGR to improve on the existing workforce and wellbeing of the citizenry and bringing unemployment in the state to its knees through provision of employment opportunities to the people.

A cross section of interviewees by Money Central argued that the mass sack of civil servants in the state would put more pressure on the labour markets, which could further compounded the security challenges in the state.

Again, the fear of many people is that, should El-rufai succeed in his policy of rightsizing without any check, many other states may likely follow suit, especially now that it is obvious that the Nigeria’s economy is in a poor state and many states still struggling to implement the N30, 000 minimum wage as mandated.

Instead of sacking the workers, many have opined that El-rufai should reduce all the unnecessary spending within his government and be more prudent in spending on awarded contracts across the state.

In spite of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), asking El-rufai to rescind the decision to sack workers, he ( El-rufai) said no amount of pressure will make him back out on his plan to sack workers in the state.

As the planned mass sack of workers in the state becomes an issue of debate, people have also accused the El-rufai led administration that the mass sack is to fulfill the huge debt overhang which he (El-rufai) has plunged the state into. Though, the governor had earlier said, he was not elected to pay salaries alone.

Bako Abdul Usman, the National President, Campaign for Democracy, said it is a deliberate attempt by the state government to plunge the people more into poverty, considering the financial status of the state in recent times.

” To me, a mass sack of workers in the state is not a welcome development, having seen the way the state increased its Internally Generated Revenue. It is better we have those workers on ground with routine training, so that the multiplier effect of them getting salaries will help to grow the state economy.

” It is obvious that majority of the markets in the state have been demolished for facelift, and a lot of citizens that are within the markets environment who are business people are currently lacking in welfarism and the civil servants who are supposed to cushion the effect of mass markets demolition are not also supposed to be relegated or put out of the salary scheme of the state in order for them to be able to cater for those who were affected by the Urban renewal projects of the state,” he said.

Usman also agreed that the mass sack of workers in Kaduna state could be a kite flying to test the ground by other state governors, should El-rufai have his way, then they may follow.

Comparing Kano state, he (Usman) said, Kano state is the most populated state in the country with more number of civil servants than Kaduna state and never thought of reducing its workforce despite the infrastructural projects that are currently ongoing in the state.

In an exclusive interview with Money Central, Usman explained further that the urban renewal projects that are ongoing in Kaduna state should not be an excuse for the mass sack of workers in the state.

” I can still recall that the Chief of Staff to Gov. El-rufai has openly said that the allocation coming from the Federal Government are meant for the urban renewal projects in the state, while the Head of Service has also come out openly to said that the IGR of the state are meant for payment of salaries. So, if the claim by the state government was that the IGR of the state is over N50 billion, then why the mass sack of civil servants? he asked.

He therefore advised the Kaduna state government to have a rethink on his mass sack policy and considered the plight and wellbeing of the common man in the state.

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