When are we going to look at ourselves straight in the face and tell ourselves the bitter truth about the danger of Kwara’s unsustainable labour force? When are we going to stop kicking the can down the road? In May 2019 when AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq came on board, one of the earliest conversations Kwara ought to have is what to do with its bloated civil service which has become a social security net rather than exchange of quality service for pay. I am not saying all the workers in the civil service have no business being there. I am saying six in 10 possibly have no business earning from public purse in the name of salary. It is a different thing if we call what these workers earn as bonuses.
Let’s face it: a situation whereby less than one per cent of the populace consumes 75 per cent of monetary allocation to the state is not sustainable. We must face the fact that such practice will continue to hold us back. I am not aware of anywhere in the world where six in every 10 public workers wake up in the morning, take their bath, go to work and all they do between 8am and 5pm is to exchange banters without adding any value to the system that pays them. This is the system we currently have in Kwara State. Yet any attempt to open a discussion on it is met with scorn, blackmail and threats.
We get nostalgic about systems (countries) that work. What is the work ethics there? What’s the employee-employer relation there? How do people get paid? The practice is to pay individual worker based on key performance indicators (KPI). You get paid based on what you bring to the table. Not for coming to work to mark register! That is why those systems are very productive and everyone is happy. What we do here is to pack political loyalists into public service without commensurate service delivery.
When last did you visit our ministries? What do most of those workers do there? Talking. Most of them are locked in WhatsApp/Facebook chats during work hours. Sometimes it is not because some of them don’t want to work. It is because there is basically nothing to do. They were hired for political reasons. That is a symptom of a rent system which Kwara typifies. Many were employed so that they can earn something at the end of the month to feed themselves and their family. Not because the state was short-staffed. They were not employed to create value and then earn money as a result of the values they have created. It is the reason a teacher cannot write a simple sentence or even communicate in English language, the language of instruction in our schools. Ask yourself: who engaged such fellows and on what criteria? Things were so bad that people were getting employment letter in their homes without writing any application letter or sitting any examination.
The minimum wage madness is with us again and the government is clearly at the mercy of the same mob that creates no value most of the time. I agree a worker deserves decent pay. But such a worker must do something that equals the pay he earns or wants to earn. Is that the situation with us in Kwara?
Kwara State University, Malete