As global oil prices continue to fall, austerity measures are being taken by the government to ensure Nigeria’s revenue can fund its budget come 2015. With retrenchment one of the measures that seem easiest for the government, judging from history, the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), yesterday, warned of dire consequences if the Federal Government retrench workers.
The workers, in a statement by its President and Secretary-General, Bobboi Bala Kaigama and Alade Bashir Lawal, said that any attempt by the government to use austerity measures as an excuse to sack workers or reduce their salaries, would amount to a declaration of war on Nigerian workers and would be resisted by the labour movement.
“When the economy boomed, the political office holders were freeloading as if there was no tomorrow, while most Nigerian workers lived below $2.
“During that period, workers called for better pay package but were rebuffed by the ruling elite. It was enjoyment galore for those in government, while workers were helpless and hapless as if they were not stakeholders in the system.
“Today, the meagre N18,000 minimum wage approved in 2011 by the Federal Government has not been fully implemented by some state governments and as such it will be the height of insensitivity for any government to contemplate sacking civil servants or reducing their pay in the name of austerity measures,” the statement read.
The association also lamented that its advice that the government should reduce the huge salaries and allowances of political office holders and check other leakages that encouraged corruption in the system, has been ignored.
“Records will also show that this union, on several occasions, cautioned the Federal Government to stop the depletion of foreign reserves and needless rush to seek foreign loans for white elephant projects, because such mindless profligacy can only lead to the collapse of the economy.
“It is very sad that it took a drastic drop in the price of crude oil in the international market for the managers of the economy, including self-styled experts, to realize that government must exercise restraint in the squandermania that has been going on, including plugging of loopholes to beef up government revenue base.”
The union wondered why the government would spend more than N9 billion to purchase stoves for “rural women” considering the present economic situation. It described as yet another frivolous expenditure that had brought the economy to its knees
ASCSN urged the government to learn how to conserve fund and avoid conspicuous consumption such as competition by political office holders to own private jets that ends up being bought and maintained by the Government.
“If political office holders do not check their greed, no amount of belt-tightening will save the economy. As we write, the lifestyle of those in Government does not match the noise being made about austerity measures.
“This means that the measures are meant for the poor masses of this country as opposed to the rich ones which the Government wants us to believe. We once again call on the government to close all avenues that encourage corruption in the system and drastically reduce the humongous emoluments of political office holders to bring them in tandem with remunerations in other segments of the society,” the ASCSN stated.