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Saturday, September 24, 2022

#‘Governors Above 50 Years Should Resign First’ — Nigerians Lambast Governors For Asking Buhari To Sack Workers Above 50

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Nigerians have lambasted the 36 governors of the federation over the proposal they made to the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari to offer all civil servants who are older than 50 years a one-off retirement package to exit the service as well as impose a levy on workers earning up to N30,000 and above monthly.

The Governors had made the proposal as part of coordinated efforts to instill fiscal discipline and prevent the nation from imminent economic collapse.

In the proposal, the Governors had reportedly urged President Muhammadu Buhari to begin the implementation of the updated Stephen Oronsaye Report, which recommended merger and shutdown of agencies and parastatals with duplicated or contested functions as a way to address bureaucratic inefficiency and reduce the cost of governance.

However, Nigerians have outrightly kicked against the proposal as it is coming at a time millions of Nigerians are either unemployed or underemployed. Many urged the Governors to bury their heads in shame.

Describing the proposals as wicked and insensitive, some argued that it is against the civil service law and admonished the governors who are above 50 years of age to first resign from office before making such advice to the Federal Government.

Constitutional lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome described the proposal as inhumane, wondering what the nation stands to gain if it heeds the governors’ advice and populate an already saturated labour market.

He said, “’the proposed step is unwise, ill-advised and inhumane. It smacks of the usual government’s insensitivity to the plight of the common man. How do you retire civil servants in their prime at 50 years? This is the real age of full bloom, experience and productivity. It is extremely ridiculous! It is the height of irresponsibility and insensitivity. It is the brazen exhibition of cruelty at its highest level.

“The N30, 000 is not enough for these same proponents of the funny and phoney proposal to buy snacks at KFC or Mr. Bigs at a go. Do they live in another planet? The entire proposal is shameful and disgusting.”

On its part, civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, described the proposal as a violation of the 1999 constitution (as amended).

HURIWA said the move violates section 42 subsection 1 of the 1999 Constitution as it discriminates on the basis of age and breaches extant civil service rules which peg retirement age at 60.

The group said what could lead to imminent collapse of the economy of Nigeria is the widespread political corruption by public office holders including the governors and the Presidency “who carve out huge chunks of financial resources that are not captured in the budget and pilfer the funds under the guise of security votes.”

The rights group according to its national coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko noted that the exorbitant costs of running the executive arms of government at the two tiers of government of federal and State especially are the draining pipes that could precipitate total collapse of the nation’s economy.

It further advised executive arm of government at both the state and federal levels to cut down on the costs of governance including amending constitutional provisions on appointment of ministers and commissioners to peg the number of each category at six for ministers representing the six geo-political zones for federal government and three commissioners per state representing the three Senatorial zones of each state.

HURIWA asked for the law to be amended so that citizens above 50 years cannot run for offices of governors and President of Nigeria because of the possibility that such persons “may be subjected to unexplained health challenges associated with old age.”

The body added that if the federal government “disagrees with these far-reaching reforms of the laws aforementioned to peg the ages of executive officials of the federal and state governments, then, there is no justification to discriminate against civil servants.”

In his own reaction, one of the presidential aspirants of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) in the just-concluded primaries, Dr Cosmos Ndukwe, asked governors above 50 years of age to first resign before asking the Federal Government to sack civil servants above the age of 50.

The former Deputy Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly argued that since public servants and political office holders are being paid from public funds just like civil servants, they should first quit to save cost before recommending the sack of core civil servants.

Reacting also, former Secretary to State Government, SSG, Abia State, Elder Ralph Egbu, said staff emoluments were not the problem of Nigeria but misplacement of priority by Government.

He said that “Government most times waste money on white elephant projects that have no bearing on the people and at inflated costs just to enrich those in power. The cost of most projects is 700 times over that of the actual cost. That’s where the problem lies and not the money paid to civil servants”.

Former Minister of Communication and chieftain of All Progressives Congress, APC, in Oyo State, Mr Bayo Shittu, argued that, “sacking such magnitude of people at the federal civil service is like sacking about 200 thousand families, thereby sending them back to labour markets.

Former Minister of Communication and chieftain of All Progressives Congress, APC, in Oyo State, Mr Bayo Shittu, argued that, “sacking such magnitude of people at the federal civil service is like sacking about 200 thousand families, thereby sending them back to labour markets.

Ekiti State NLC Chairman, Comrade Kolapo Olatunde said retiring civil servants above 50 years was against the extant law of the civil service arguing that, “if such will happen it will take a process by the National Assembly and you can’t take law from the back. You can’t change a goal post in the middle of the match.

In his own submission, Ambassador Yemi Farounmbi contended that the suggestion of the Nigeria’s Governors Forum to relieve persons above age 50 of their duties as civil servants will be creating another problem while trying to solve one, though about 89000 civil servants in the employment of the federal government earn about N4.5trillion which is about 30 percent of the budget while others are being catered for with the remaining 70 percent.

Hon Ayo Fadaka, public analyst, argued that, “truly, urgent steps are required to ensure that Nigeria does not collapse. It is equally heartwarming to see that the Governors Forum is quite apprehensive and thinking of ways out of the seeming crisis, however their panacea seems to target the people and punish them excessively for a problem they did not create.

“The idea that civil/public servants above 50 years old should be discharged from service is begging the issue, can Government at every level afford the consequences of such action? Gratuities and pension will be paid and where is the money coming from? There will be added pressure on the battered economy, except they are suggesting that they will just be laid off carelessly?

“As a matter of fact, Government must sit up and work assiduously to fix all the leaking holes in our economy. The recent procurement of luxurious cars for Niger Republic is an inelegant spending by a Government that is incapable of due appreciation of the dire economic situation that confronts it. Sadly today, Nigeria is said to be unable to meet its OPEC quota and reason for this debacle is because of oil theft that it cannot curb.

Government must dispassionately tackle our challenges and take very seriously its responsibilities to manage the nation effectively. Nigeria is broke and no longer in a position to continue to play Father Christmas to less endowed nations.

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