The Kaduna State government has stated that its primary responsibility is to develop the state, not just to pay the salaries of public servants.
This follows the recent announcement that it is downsizing its workforce because the public finances have been severely stretched by the higher wage bills at a time when revenues from the Federation Account Allocations Committee (FAAC) have not increased.
A statement signed by the Special Adviser on Media and Communication to the Governor, Muyiwa Adekeye, said, “The 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.”
The government pointed out that what it has been receiving “from FAAC since the middle of 2020, like most other sub-nationals, can barely pay salaries and overheads. “While the Kaduna State government believes that public sector wages overall are still relatively low, their current levels are obviously limited by the resources available to the government,” the statement argued.
According to the state government, “what each public servant earns might be puny in comparison to private-sector wages, but the total wage bill consumes much of the revenues of the state.”
The Special Adviser, however, argued that the “desire to pay more is a sentiment that must bow to the limits prescribed by the ability to pay.
“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 per cent of government resources, with little left to positively impact the lives of the more than nine million that are not political appointees or civil servants,” the statement argued.
Adeleke added that the measures which the government took to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic “have shown clearly that the public service requires much fewer persons than it currently employs”.
The Special Adviser pointed out that the rationalisation exercise will also affect political appointees “and its purpose is to save funds and ensure that a strong and efficient public service exists to use those resources to implement progressive programmes and projects for the people, and thereby develop the state.”
The statement further said that “in November 2020, Kaduna State government had only N162.9 million left after paying salaries. That month, Kaduna State got N4.83 billion from FAAC and paid N4.66 billion as wages.
The state government had on April 6 shocked many when over 4,000 workers across the 23 local government areas of the state received their disengagement letters.
The Nigeria Labour Congress condemned this decision of the Kaduna State Governor, El-Rufai.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, national president of the NLC, described the action as “arbitrary and cruel”, and called on the Kaduna State Government to reverse the mass sacking.
The NLC president said the decision of the governor to retire officers that are 50 years old and above; compulsory retirement of officers on Grade Level 14 and above, even when they are less than 50 years violate the fundamental human and trade union rights of Kaduna State workers.
Some of the affected workers also urged the governor to reconsider its decision while calling him to pay their entitlements.