NASU cautions against arbitrary implementation of Oronsaye’s report by government
– Alleges exercise may lead to massive job losses
The Federal Government must comply with all relevant laws and policies guiding the establishment of agencies and parastatals that might be scrapped as recommended by Steve Oronsaye’s report, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), has insisted.
The Presidential Committee on Rationalisation and Restructuring of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies, had in 2012, recommended the scrapping, abolition, mergers and reversion of some existing institutions to departments of ministries.
The General Secretary of the union, Peters Adeyemi, said the agencies, departments and parastatals are creations of laws, which will have to be repealed or amended, while those that were created by the constitution must go through constitutional amendments.
He said this means is that the implementation is not the sole responsibility of the executive arm of government.
“It is therefore left to be seen how the National Assembly that had passed several Bills that are awaiting the assent of the President for the establishment of some Agencies and Boards is going to handle its responsibility in the implementation of the Report,” Adeyemi stated.
He accused the Bretton Woods institutions – the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank of ‘rushing’ the Nigerian Government into implementing the report as a precondition for obtaining more loans.
He said: “We are convinced that the rush to implement the report is an attempt to fulfil one of the conditionality the IMF extracted from the Federal Government as an eligibility requirement to obtain the recent loans the Institution granted. One unfortunate thing is that when some government officials talk with regard to the implementation of public sector reforms of the government, they leave an impression of either being representatives of or agents of Bretton Woods institutions. These institutions have no interest in the welfare of citizens.”
Adeyemi reproached the institutions for supporting reforms that suppress government spending on the welfare of citizens while tilting towards decisions that guarantee the repayment of loans granted to their surrogate nations.
He was quick to point out that on the face value, the implementation of the report may portray an attempt to streamline bureaucracy and cut cost, cautioning that, “our past experiences with reforms aimed at cutting down bureaucratic cost are that they had always ended with job losses. Bureaucratic bloated cost in Nigeria is always on the side of recurrent expenditure. Unfortunately, in Nigeria recurrent expenditure has become synonymous with civil servants’ salaries and wages. The lie dubious political officeholders sell to the uninformed public is that 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 components of the recurrent expenditure of the government.”
He observed that recurrent expenditure is all payments other than for capital assets, including salaries and wages of civil servants, bogus salaries and allowances of political officeholders, their travels both foreign and domestic, interest repayments on foreign and domestic loans, bogus subsidies and other overheads of government.
He declared that NASU sees the decision to implement the report as a licence and cover to carry out retrenchment in some sections of the public service and this is not acceptable to the union.
He argued that the policy direction, which is ill-timed, is another attempt by the advisers and drivers of the policy to pitch the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari against workers and their unions.
He added that the implementation of the report will lead to massive job losses and poverty, saying this is not the time to throw more Nigerians into the over-saturated unemployment market.
“Unemployment is a sign of poverty and it leads to the financial crisis, hunger, health crisis, gloom and crime. To pinpoint how the current administration is worried about the endemic poverty in the country, the Federal Government is currently implementing a policy of conditional cash transfer to poor households across the country,” he said.
Adeyemi opined that the factors responsible for the increase in the cost of public sector bureaucracy are not salaries and wages of civil servants.
His words: “With the exception of the recent minimum wage, which in real terms did not bring any significant increase in the take-home pay of public servants, there has been a freeze in employment and wage increases spanning several years. The reality is that there are continuous statutory retirements and death of workers without replacement. These are expected to bring down the real public sector wage bill.”
He identified corruption and bogus salaries and allowances of political officeholders as key factors responsible for the increased cost of bureaucracy.
He added that if the government must go ahead with the policy, its implementation must be transparent from the planning to the implementation stages.
“This can only happen by bringing onboard critical stakeholders, especially trade unions that represent workers in the affected institutions. Government has to show workers and their unions a concrete plan on how jobs of workers in the affected institutions will be protected within the framework of the implementation of the policy,” the union said.