FG Plans Reduction In Workforce | Independent Newspapers Limited
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FG Plans Reduction In Workforce

Posted: May 30, 2016 at 4:30 am   /   by   /   comments (0)



*Buhari Reassures Investors on Naira, Restive Niger Delta


Innocent Oweh



President Muhammadu Buhari has hinted of plans to reduce the federal workforce, noting that when work on this is complete “we will have a leaner, more efficient public service that is fit for the purpose of changing Nigeria.”

Buhari also reassured investors that he has the country’s currency and oil-rich Niger Delta region in hand one year after taking office.

“We shall keep a close look on how the recent measures affect the naira and the economy,” the President Buhari said on Sunday in a television broadcast to mark his first anniversary in office. “But we cannot get away from the fact that a strong currency is predicated on a strong economy.”

Buhari also disclosed that some 43,000 ghost workers had been discovered and weeded out from the civil service, leading to a saving of a whopping N4.2 billion monthly.

“Our efficiency unit will work to cut costs and eliminate duplications in ministries and departments. Every little saving helps. The reduction in the number of ministries and work on restructuring and rationalisation of the MDAs is well underway.

“When this work is complete we will have a leaner, more efficient public service that is fit for the purpose of changing Nigeria…as well as making savings”, Buhari noted.

Available data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that unemployment has been on the upward swing in the past one year of Buhari’s administration. The unemployment rate stood at 24.1% in May 2015, it has leaped to 29.2% in May 2016.

Aside from government, several private concerns have within the last one year sacked their workers as a result of the prevalent harsh economic environment.

President Buhari in his address chronicled challenges he had to deal with since assumption of office, noting that his administration inherited a state that was near collapse.

He alluded to the fact that several social and economic challenges which he inherited from the previous administration were enough to derail his government but for the focus and commitment.

“The past years have witnessed huge flows of oil revenues. From 2010 average oil prices were $100 per barrel.

“But economic and security conditions were deteriorating. We campaigned and won the election on the platform of restoring security, tackling corruption and restructuring the economy.

“On our arrival, the oil price had collapsed to as low as $30 per barrel and we found nothing had been kept for the rainy day. Oil prices have been declining since 2014 but due to the neglect of the past, the country was not equipped to halt the economy from declining.

“The infrastructure, notably rail, power, roads were in a decrepit state. All the four refineries were in a state of disrepair, the pipelines and depots neglected.

“Huge debts owed to contractors and suppliers had accumulated. Twenty-seven states could not pay salaries for months. In the North East, Boko Haram had captured 14 local governments, driven the local authorities out, hoisted their flags. Elsewhere, insecurity was palpable; corruption and impunity were the order of the day. In short, we inherited a state near collapse, the president noted.

Buhari also justified the recent deregulation policy of the Federal Government, saying though it imposed suffering on the masses, there was no other option left for government, in view of the downward slide in oil revenue, the country’s economic mainstay.

“All oil dependent countries, Nigeria included, have been struggling since the drop in prices of oil.

“Many oil rich states have had to take tough decisions similar to what we are doing. The world, Nigeria included has been dealing with the effects of three significant and simultaneous global shocks starting in 2014.

“A 70% drop in oil prices, global growth slowdown and normalisation of monetary policy by the United States federal reserve.

“Our problems as a government are like that of a farmer who in a good season harvests ten bags of produce. The proceeds enable him to get by for rest of the year. However, this year he could only manage 3 bags from his farm. He must now think of other ways to make ends meet”, the president said.

President Buhari maintained silence on the actual amounts so far recovered from corrupt Nigerians who are alleged to have looted the treasury dry in the past.

He has also kept mum on the assets that have been recovered and the proceeds from those assets.

Instead, he said the Ministry of Information and Culture, which is under the purview of Alhaji Lai Muhammed, would subsequently publish full details of the funds, status and categories of the assets so far recovered.

He said once the forfeiture formalities are completed, the monies recovered will be credited to the treasury and be openly and transparently used in funding developmental projects.

The presidency had previously raised public expectations that the names of some public officials and the amount of monies recovered from them would be made public while the president delivered his Democracy Day address on May 29.

“We are also engaged in making recoveries of stolen assets some of which are in different jurisdictions.

“The processes of recovery can be tedious and time consuming, but today I can confirm that thus far: significant amount of assets have been recovered.

“A considerable portion of these are at different stages of recovery. Full details of the status and categories of the assets will now be published by the Ministry of Information and updated periodically.

“When forfeiture formalities are completed these monies will be credited to the treasury and be openly and transparently used in funding developmental projects and the public will be informed,” the president said.

On economic recovery efforts, President Buhari wrote off plans to further devalue the naira, arguing that such measures has always been counterproductive.

He said efforts would rather be stepped up to keep the naira steady through productive ventures in the industrial sector.

“We have resolved to keep the naira steady, as in the past, devaluation had done dreadful harm to the Nigerian economy.

“Furthermore, I supported the monetary authority’s decision to ensure alignment between monetary policy and fiscal policy. We shall keep a close look on how the recent measures affect the naira and the economy.

“But we cannot get away from the fact that a strong currency is predicated on a strong economy. And a strong economy pre-supposes an industrial productive base and a steady export market.

“The measures we must take, may lead to hardships. The problems Nigerians have faced over the last year have been many and varied. But the real challenge for this government has been reconstructing the spine of the Nigerian state.

“The last twelve months have been spent collaborating with all arms of government to revive our institutions so that they are more efficient and fit for purpose,” Buhari noted.