The Big Kaduna State Dilemma And A Playbook for Nigeria Ahead

The Big Kaduna State Dilemma And A Playbook for Nigeria Ahead

First, this is not to attack Workers or Governor El- Rufai of Kaduna. Yes, Nigeria has become so heated that one can offend everyone at the same time. But allow me to use data, and I am quoting a statement which has not been disputed: “The public service of the [Kaduna] state with less than 100,000 employees and their families cannot be consuming more than 90% of government resources, with little left to positively impact the lives of the more than 9 million that are not political appointees or civil servants.”

The state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, in April, announced the plan to disengage civil servants in the state, citing fiscal reasons.

He stated that a significant amount of the statutory federal allocations is being spent on the wages of public servants. According to him, the decision was one of the necessary moves to salvage the state’s finances.

“Therefore, the state government has no choice but to shed some weight and reduce the size of the public service. It is a painful but necessary step to take, for the sake of the majority of the people of this state,” the Monday statement partly read.

“The public service of the state with less than 100,000 employees and their families cannot be consuming more than 90% of government resources, with little left to positively impact the lives of the more than 9 million that are not political appointees or civil servants.”

“It is gross injustice for such a micro minority to consume the majority of the resources of the State,” he said.

Yes, the government of Kaduna state is making a case that it spends more than 90% of all state resources to support bureaucracy and workers in the state. Those workers and political appointees are about 100k in a state of about 9 million. So, the governor plans to reduce that bureaucracy.

On the side of the Labour Union, they are making a case that the government must not save to build infrastructure  by sacking people. So, the workers are going on strike to make sure the governor does not go ahead and sack thousands. But the governor has maintained that nothing will change his playbook, strike or no strike.

Kaduna residents are stocking food and other essential items ahead of the workers’ strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to begin on Monday.

Residents said they fear the strike may result in shops and markets not opening.

Already, the electricity distribution company has cut off supply to the Kaduna metropolis.

PREMIUM TIMES observed that many businesses were running generators for supply of electricity Sunday evening.

“For us it has begun. Supply of electricity was cut off yesterday night. This is a serious problem.” Yusuf, an electric appliances seller in the state capital, said.

This is the reality: the governor has no chance just as no federal leadership has implemented Steve Oronsaye which recommended trimming the federal civil service many years ago. The Vice President in a recent speech said: “There is no question that we are dealing with large and expensive government.” Yet, no one wants to take any action to fix that. 

Why? Everyone is a victim in Nigeria because there is no trust in the system. Why sacrifice your job to enable politicians to have more money to steal? So, workers will ensure that reduction does not happen. And the politicians will maintain that without those savings, building the infrastructure of the future will not happen.

“There is no question that we are dealing with large and expensive government, but as you know, given the current constitutional structure, those who would have to vote to reduce (the size of) government, especially to become part-time legislators, are the very legislators themselves,” Mr Osinbajo was quoted to have said.

“So, you can imagine that we may not get very much traction if they are asked to vote themselves, as it were, out of their current relatively decent circumstances.

“So, I think there is a need for a national debate on this question and there is a need for us to ensure that we are not wasting the kind of resources that we ought to use for development on overheads. At the moment, our overheads are almost 70 per cent of revenues, so there is no question at all that we must reduce the size of government.”

According to him, “the problem was a major driving factor for the government’s decision to revisit the Steve Oronsaye report on public service reforms”.

He said: “Part of what you would see in the Economic Sustainability Plan also and several of the other initiatives is trying to go, to some extent, to what was recommended in the (Steve) Oransaye Report, to collapse a few of the agencies to become a bit more efficient and make government much more efficient with whatever it has.”

This is a tough call: what can Kaduna, Nigeria do to fix this bloated bureaucratic paralysis? From my angle, I think the state and the nation must deepen productivity. If there is growth, it will become evident that the expenses may not even be too big. My suggestion would be to improve productivity so that the workers (from the governor to the least civil servant) can generate directly and indirectly more resources that would be used to pay them. Today, they do not, and that means the growth elements in the state are not working. Even if you fire thousands without fixing productivity, the root cause would not have been addressed.

If I am the governor, I will develop a productivity index which the labour unions will approve with me. We will benchmark all workers to make sure we can grow the local economy. But where that productivity is not working, the system will be designed to naturally phase out that government unit. Yes, the workers will see the handwriting on the wall.

In America, everything is measured. Joe Biden sent cheques to Americans, paying many more than they could be paid if they are to work. Because of that, many chose to stay home. And unemployment went up. Without that data and measurement, Washington DC would not have known that a generous welfare can dip interests to work. But with data, they now want to add a requirement that the person must be looking for a job before some of those benefits can kick in. Nigeria does not have data and we make policy on guesswork. Possibly, what took America 60 days to see a pattern would not have been detected in Nigeria as we do not measure. Mr. Vice President and Mr. Governor could design a productivity index which can help to organically mutate bloated bureaucracy.

It is key to understand that productivity is not just revenue. It could be measured in many ways depending on the government department. We will bring physics into measuring how workers do their jobs. That is what the governor needs since politically he cannot execute this retrenchment.

The Vice President’s Statement on “Large and Expensive Government” in Nigeria

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One thought on “The Big Kaduna State Dilemma And A Playbook for Nigeria Ahead

  1. Quite chaotic and confusing too. How does going on strike include cutting off electricity supply? Thuggery mentality everywhere.

    One key data missing here is the monetary value of the famed 90% resources, that would help put things in proper perspective, both from income and expenditure viewpoints. If you have around 100k people in public and civil service for a population of 9 million, that’s roughly 1%, the size isn’t big enough to be talking about trimming; the problem lies somewhere else.

    It is never easy to give an opinion on government and labour squabbles here, because both of them always underperform, but keep blaming each other; none is better than the other, the same ancestor birthed them.

    This is a system where people shout ‘no jobs’, ‘no jobs’, then government would promise to recruit, only to come back and whine about overburdened expenditures. It ought to be economic reality influencing political considerations, but in our case, political consideration trumps economic reality; and the perfect term to describe it is stupidity.

    To maintain a luxury lifestyle, only two options are available: increase your income, or reduce the number of beneficiaries. But for Nigeria, it’s meagre income with more beneficiaries…

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