Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) has described the decision of the federal government to reduce salaries of civil servants as insensitive, provocative and inciting.
In statement issued yesterday by the General Secretary of NASU, Prince Peters A. Adeyemi, it pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to have a rethink on the policy direction of his government.
It said embarking on a pay-cut at a time, when for the same economic reasons, the United States of America is considering raising its minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour, is not desirable.
“To continue on this line of policy will only provoke Nigerian workers and incite them towards negative actions that may lead to unintended outcomes,” he said.
NASU said it viewed the recent pronouncement by the federal government that the government has decided to reduce salaries of federal civil servants as an act of insensitivity, provocative and inciting.
The union said the Minister of Finance Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, was reported to have said on May 4, 2021, at a ‘National Policy Dialogue on Corruption and Cost of Governance in Nigeria’, organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in Abuja that the review of salaries of civil servants and some federal agencies was part of measures to reduce cost of governance.
She was further quoted to have stated that the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) has been directed to review salaries of civil servants and some federal agencies.
NASU observed that President Buhari had refused to yield to the pressure from some individuals in his administration, who have continued to urge him to retrench workers.
It also noted that the administration had continued to pay salaries regularly despite challenges, adding that the act is commendable.
The group said the reason given by the Minister of Finance for the policy statement is the desire of the government to reduce cost of governance.
NASU, however, said the principal factor responsible for bloated recurrent expenditure is the salaries and allowances of political office holders.
It argued that 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.
According to NASU, this was well captured in the report of the Adamu Fika Committee set up by former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to review Public Sector Reforms.
The committee expressed displeasure over the matter, saying: “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.”
Adeyemi further said 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.
He said no government official who wishes Nigerian workers well and is interested in the peace of the country would advise on such line of policy direction at this time, when workers are still struggling with the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.
“The lies dubious political office holders sell to the uninformed public is that the 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 the government. If the government is sincerely interested in reducing the cost of governance, it should be bold enough to direct its search light at the political office holders and members of the legislative arm of government,” NASU said.