The widespread massive unemployment situation in the country is as serious as any national issues with respect to the survivability of Nigeria as a viable entity. It is no longer news that many able bodied youths-young men and women are idling away in anguish, therefore the unprecedented upsurge in crime waves in our society today.
Few days ago, it was reported that some PhD holders were among the applicants for truck drivers’ posts with the Dangote Group. Was I surprised to hear that? No!
The latest news is the statement credited to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, that government should sack about 50 percent of civil servants because the country is actually spending too much to service her civil service.
As expected, such statement from the boss of the Central Bank of Nigeria, a very important sector of the economy would generate a lot of controversies. Many important personalities have since then criticized him for such statement while the more aggrieved ones called for his outright sack.
With such reactions coming from the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress and Civil Service Workers Union, it is evident that Sanusi offended many groups and disappointed some of his fans too. Did he actually go too far? Yes he did but a critical and honest look at what he said and what provoked such statement would reveal that though offensive as it is, there are some truths in what he said. His observations were right but got it completely wrong in his recommendation.
It is a known fact that many workers (especially in the public service) no longer work for their pay. This is justified by the alarming number of ‘ghost workers’ in the public service at all levels in the country today. There is a general belief that government job is not a private job, therefore should not be taken seriously. This is so because even the elected government executives are lackadaisical about their jobs.
The reward system in the civil service has no correlation with quality of work done and this answers the question of why should the politicians receive jumbo pay even when it is obvious that more than half of them are just there for jamboree. They add no value to the system. In the civil service as seen in Nigeria today, you don’t need to work before you eat or earn salary. No wonder there is daily rise in certificate forgery in that sector just for them to secure a place in the civil service at all costs.
Public servants go to work as late as 10a.m, contrary to the official time of 8a.m and when they get to office they gossip, chat (thank goodness for smart phones) and ping (for the ones that own blackberry phones) till about 12noon or thereabout and then go out in the name of afternoon prayers. This is the picture of Nigeria civil service sector starting from the Local Government Areas to the federal level.
For those calling for the sack of Sanusi, their point is that it is the duty of any responsible government to provide employment opportunities for her citizen. The government is also duty bound to make laws that will enhance productivity of her public service and also ensure that such laws are not only made on paper but enforced in practical terms to produce the desired results.
For this reason, it is wrong for the CBN supremo to prescribe to halving of public service work force as a panacea to the challenges of managing the country’s economy. After all, many sectors of the economy are as well unproductive.
It is bad no matter how bad the situation is for a top official as respected as the CBN governor to joyfully prescribe mass retrenchment as the best way to salvage a sinking economy like ours. It will be a costly and regrettable mistake to throw those men and women (civil servants) into the already super saturated labour market. Instead of relieving them of their jobs, they should be made to actually work before they earn salaries. Common sense as always said is not common but I expected Sanusi to know better.
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