A top government official saddled with the task disclosed this to The Nation yesterday. The source said that the yearly budget can no longer absorb the staff strength in the public service.
The official said the exercise, which is expected to be carried out next year, would affect only civil servants who are considered to be unproductive and who do not add value to service delivery.
According to the source, who heads a strategic organ of the federal civil service, “the structure of the Nigerian budget can no longer accommodate the current unwieldy number of civil servants in government employment across the nation”.
He attributed the difficulty in operating the federal budget to the over-bloated recurrent component of the budget, especially personnel.
Justifying the impending mass sack, the official added that the demands by university lecturers, doctors and the entire civil service have stretched available resources to a breaking point.
He pointed out that it was for this reason the Federal Government was forced to cut its recurrent budget for 2012 by two per cent; from 74 per cent to 72 per cent, a cut whic, he said, has resulted in government saving about N200 billion.
The source, however, stated that the government would be extra careful in the handling of the exercise, saying that it would come in phases to avoid possible social and economic dislocation.
The government, the source said, does not want thousands of workers on the streets at a go to avoid having another civil unrest on its hands. ‘’But those saying we should cut recurrent expenditure should not forget that we have to sack workers,” he added.
“Mass sack is inevitable but we will go into it with a lot of sense and tact. Workers who are not adding value will certainly have to go, he added. Already, a committee headed by a former Head of Service of the Federation Mr Steve Oronsanye has been put in place with a mandate to trim and reform the federal civil service. The committee is said to have started the necessary groundwork on the exercise.
To guard against a repeat of the dislocations and endless litigations thrown up by a similar exercise carried out by the Obasanjo administration a few years ago, the source said government will attempt to review the existing civil service laws, which do not allow mass sacking of workers.
According to him, the laws will be reviewed so that those affected will not go to court. “Many of those that were laid off in that exercise simply went to court and today they are back to their jobs,” the source added.
Another source in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) also confirmed the planned reduction in the number of civil servants. The source said: “At present, there are 78 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) but we expect another five MDAs by March and by April this number will rise to 98.”
The first step in the mass purge, the AGF source said, will be the harmonisation of all the existing MDAs under the Integrated Payroll and PersonnelInformation System (IPPIS). The source, however,identified the major problem with the IPPIS as that of connectivity but added that the office of the AGF has started working with Galaxy Backbone, another government agency, to address the problem.
The source assured that all the MDAs will be captured on IPPIS by the end of this year with a significant reduction in government’s payroll.
The AGF source also explained that the Pension Task Force put in place by the Federal Government recovered about N74 billion, stressing that further recoveries are being expected.
Source: The Nation