Sunday, May 16, 2021

KDSG Warns Against Strike, Violence; Says No Going Back On Rightsizing Of Public Service


The Kaduna State Government has said that it will implement its decision to rightsize the public service and not subject public policy to a mob’s veto.
The state government explained that since late 2020, workers below Grade Level 14 have been staying at home as part of the COVID-19 prevention efforts, except those that have been declared as essential by their commissioners and agency head.
Therefore, it expects officers from Grade Level 14 upwards and workers on essential duty to continue at their duty post as usual.
The Commissioner of Local Government, Jafaru Sani, and Head of Service, Bariatu Y. Mohammed, stated the government’s position during a press conference on Saturday (today).
According to them, KDSG regards the strike action and shutdown threats as futile gestures that will not stop it from taking the painful but necessary actions to cope with the fiscal crisis.
They said the Kaduna State Government believes that “the welfare of public servants is sustainable only within the larger context of the general welfare of residents of the state that the government itself is mandated to serve.
“Thus, it is not sustainable to persist in spending 84% to 96% of its FAAC receipts on salaries and personnel costs as has been the experience of the state since October 2020.”
The administration said it will protect its facilities and its workers’ right to access and exit their offices.
It disclosed that it has alerted the security agencies of plans by some trade unionists to get hoodlums to attack power transmission stations, hospitals and public infrastructure like streetlights and waterworks in a repeat of the violence and vandalisation wreaked by what it called the Ayuba Wabba-led hooligans during the November 2017 rampage in Kaduna.
The statement noted that the Kaduna State Government has been assured by some trade unions that they will not be part of the planned sabotage of social and economic life in the state.
Saying some trade unionists have been persistently hostile to it, the Kaduna government wondered if “something other than worker interest is at play!” The statement narrated instances to demonstrate the Kaduna State Government’s commitment to the welfare of its employees, including regular payment of salaries and pensions.
It added that “Kaduna State civil servants bought most of the non-essential residential houses the government sold in 2017 and the state government supported their ability to pay for these houses by arranging single-digit interest mortgages for them”.

The government said it could not understand why certain trade unionists persist in traducing the state government and lying about its record, despite Kaduna State being the first state to pay the minimum wage, raise minimum pension to N30,000 monthly, faithfully implement its contributory pension scheme, and pay over N13bn inherited arrears of gratuity and death benefits over five years.
The statement noted that the NLC has been citing fake figures from a forged memo while claiming at different times that 4,000 or 20,000 or even 60,000 officers have been affected by the rightsizing exercise. KDSG explained that it has not yet determined the precise number of political appointees and civil servants to be affected as it is still verifying personnel records.
“It bears noting that given the patchy level of compliance with the new minimum wage across the country, it is the state government that blazed the trail in paying it and has continued paying it at both state and local government levels that some trade unionists are consistently traducing.”
The statement added that “in September 2019, the Kaduna State Government became the first government at any level in Nigeria to pay the new minimum wage, along with consequential adjustments and it has continued to faithfully respect this obligation. It followed up by swiftly raising the minimum pension to N30,000 monthly for retirees on the old defined benefits scheme.
“The 23 local government councils in the state also complied and began paying the new wages. Amidst all the revenue challenges we have encountered over the last six years, the Kaduna State Government has always prioritised its ability to deliver capital projects and pay its personnel costs, especially salaries.
“Kaduna is also one of the states that is most faithful in implementing the Contributory Pension Scheme, effective from 1 January 2017. It has courageously attempted to settle the N14bn it inherited as arrears of death benefit and gratuity from 2010, commencing payments with those who had exited service the longest. Since 2015, the Kaduna State Government has paid over N13bn in death benefits and gratuity.
“As part of its commitment to the public service as the vehicle for the delivery of services and public goods to citizens, this government initiated the Public Service Reform and Revitalisation Programme in 2016. Its purpose is to modernise the service and make it more efficient and ICT-savvy. Apart from teachers and health workers, this government continues to also recruit required professionals for its agencies.
“It creates new jobs as it exits personnel from cadres that have been rendered obsolete. It is investing in training and has devoted 2% of FAAC receipts to fund training as a rigorous investment in building and boosting the capacity of its personnel.
“As sitting tenants, Kaduna State civil servants bought most of the non-essential residential houses the government sold in 2017 and the government supported their ability to pay for these houses by arranging single-digit interest mortgages for them.
“Therefore, this government has demonstrated in action its commitment to the welfare of its workers. But it insists that this is sustainable only in the context of the general welfare of residents of the state that the government itself is mandated to serve. Thus, it is not sustainable to persist in spending 84% to 96% of its FAAC receipts on salaries and personnel costs as it has been the state’s experience since October 2020. This government was not elected to devote most public funds to paying government workers and treat that as its defining governance mission, to the detriment of developing the state and its people.”

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