Monday 10 July 2006

Scalding snouts out of the Nigeria Civil Service trough

Tossing out the black sheep

If the decision to retrench or sack 33,000 workers from the Nigerian Civil Service is to get rid of people unfit, guilty of serious misconduct or "ghost workers" that would be laudable.

The other debatable issue is that of well-qualified people as opposed people who have a sense of duty to do they have been employed to do.

There is definitely a sound perception value to be gained from instigating such a purge; the economic and social value is suspect.

Perception value stems from eliminating corrupt and inadequate resources from our civil services with the hope that it would create a more responsive and streamlined organisation for that management of Nigeria.

Market forces stealing purses

However, considering what has been earmarked for both the severance payments and the intended salary increases from January 2007, we might be laying ahead a few more troubles for the economy at large.

If we are to pay off those unfit, corrupt or guilty of serious misconduct rather than sanction them through due process or criminal proceedings these miscreants would have gotten away scot-free at probably a lesser cost to the federal government but a greater cost to the country.

The black economy thrives on the ability for people to spend, and I have many times noticed in the 70s and 80s that each salary rise in the civil service was always accompanied by price hikes in the markets, I would not expect this time to be different.

The problems is the prices hikes might already kick in long before the reality of the payments are made - we might have the economy on some sort of even keel but this activity would be grossly inflationary.

It leaves one in a quandary - how does one address the issue of giving qualified and dedicated civil servants a "living wage" without having inflationary pressures loot them of that largesse?

New ideas for 419

Beyond that, the newly laid off people would hit the market with certain deplorable skills, most especially those who can suggest that they have as members of the civil service stashed away moneys that need to be released through some foreign transaction known as 419.

The fact is, some greedy oafs would fall for it and in the process face loses of money and dignity if possible and rightly so - as I stated in Avarice Anonymous last year.

Expectations of technocrats

After this purge, the government would be on a recruitment drive to engage 1,000 highly qualified technocrats who hopefully would bring some radical change to the departments in which they are posted.

Technocrats are however not what they are cut out to be, whilst the current Minister of Foreign Affairs who was the Finance Minister did much to affect and change the perception of both the workings and operations of her ministry, the current Internal Minister who was once the Minister for Foreign Affairs failed to effect radical change in his ministry that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala's early comments read as unbelievable if not lamentable.

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