At the Annual Capital Market Committee retreat held in Warri, Delta State, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Malam Sule Sanusi Lamido advised the Federal Government to downsize half of its workforce in order to maintain a sustainable economy. This recommendation drew the ire of many citizens, labour unions including members of the civil service. As always, Spaces for Change discussed this matter extensively in our discussion room, and this is how one of the discussants, Pamela Braide reacted to the central bank chief's proposal:
Sack 50% of civil servants? I don’t support such draconian measures, but I’d prefer increase in productivity and examples made out of corrupt public servants. However it is important to make it clear SLS isn’t speaking from any lonely space. We were so occupied with subsidy probes that it flew over our heads when Mr. Steve Orasanye presented a REPORT from a committee set up by government for action! That’s a more important and scary document for civil servants than a million Sanusi rants and explosions. Have you read the title of the committee? Did you recall the Terms of Reference (TOR)? It was specifically set up to suggest ways to reduce cost and increase productivity. That is to say that SLS or no SLS, civil servants should be watchful in 2014!
Yep…hungry is angry... but watch out closely! The same reason subsidy was ripe for yanking is probably the same reason this is being tested. We are broke. broke. broke. and Orasanyes report - though it proposed no figures - tells a similar massive job cut story and I can see the recommendation on performance benchmarks is already implemented. Seriously, I think at the height of the NASS probes, we really were not digesting anything else. NLC responded and was specific about no to job cuts; this just wasn’t a document people were interested in. I think it’s because just a section of Nigerians are civil servants, and many resent them.
I advise civil servants to grab a copy of that report and read the HOW of their possible fate which will not be implemented by CBN. As I’ve said, i can see one recommendation has already been implemented. But maybe it should be looked at closely with suspicion; that will be the blue print. I also think it will come sneakily in the guise of privatization which many people like. NEPA alone had how many staff? Now its being privatized. Will they be on government payroll? There are many ways to skin a horse. With the way we seem broke, it will be done, one way or another. SLS just serves unknowingly as a great distraction.
It seems people who either support or dislike this particular SLS utterance are under some impression he is a lone wolf at variance with his bosses in this matter. The cost issue is important enough for this administration to set up a committee unprompted by any protests or marches despite the tons of similar reports. It is such a touchy issue, and I’ve said before, there are many ways to skin cats. Did you see the word “sack” in that report? Nope! I see words like “rationalization”, “merging”, “privatization” - words which also mean “layoffs” (soft term for retirements) . I fully expect a gradual merging and "rationalizing" and of course privatization over the next 3 years. It won’t be an SLS guillotine, but trust me it will happen. Don’t expect the word, “retrenchment” to be used.
Efficiency in my opinion isn’t the immediate concern of this administration. It is "BROKENESS", after blowing all those trillions on subsidy (we are still owing o!) and minimum wage increase. Sanusi’s call was just a tighten-seatbelt warning. But let me conclude by saying that sacking 50% of the civil servants is a recipe for anarchy in absence of jobs to transition into.