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FG to enforce Oronsanye’s report, claims wage bill increased three-fold in six years

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THE Federal Government has informed Nigerians of plans to dust up Steve Oronsanye’s report on the rationalisation of the federal civil service.

Oronsanye, a former head of the civil service of the federation, was directed by the former administration of Goodluck Jonathan to merge agencies with similar roles into one in order to prune down the cost of governance.

The previous government failed to implement the report despite raising similar concerns on spiralling cost of governance at the time.

The rationalisation report, the government said, sought to look at the various ministries, department and agencies of the government with similar responsibilities with a view to pruning down the cost of governance.

Nigeria’s Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed  confirmed this plan of the Federal Government and expressed concern that the government’s wage bill had increased three-fold since 2015, despite the government placing a ban on employment in the federal civil service.

The minister, however, noted that there had been  replacement of retired federal civil servants, which could have affected the huge wage bill, admitting however that some people gained employment through a process that was not completely approved.

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She explained that even with the cap on employment, there was an open window for the replacement of retired directors in federal government agencies.

”The government now found out that what agencies are doing is that if a director retires, based on director salaries, they employ six people to take up the director’s salary,” adding  that, “Many of these agencies do not follow approved processes.”

“It is a problem that the president has decided to address by setting up a Presidential Committee on Salaries that I co-chair with the Minister of Labour and Employment-Chris Ngige. In that committee, we are reviewing Oronsanye’s  report, we are reviewing all the various salaries’ scales in tune with what the Salaries and Wages Commission has.”

The essence is to cut down and streamline the cost of governance, she noted.

She further stressed that delays in the process of payment of most newly intakes into the federal civil service was a result of following unapproved procedures by some government agencies.

“For instance, when they get slight approval from the head of the service to employ 12 people, you discover that in their payroll, they have up to 500 people employed. Before you get registered into the IPPS that captures people for payment, there are several levels of approvals that organisations need to show, including the vacancy while also confirming whether the budget for payments of new intakes is there.”

It is also on record that many states cannot match up with the new minimum wage, prompting some to owe workers, amid post-COVID-19 harsh economic realities and loss of jobs.

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“I expect states now to be able to take the matter of minimum wage up with the Constitutional Review Committee. In my opinion, each state should pay according to their own strength,”Minister Zainab emphasised.

According to the CBN, the Federal Government’s personnel cost rose by 18.5 per cent to N1.85 trillion as the minimum wage was increased from N7,500 to N18,000 in 2011, thus accounting for 51 per cent of the Federal government’s retained revenue.

By 2016, personnel spending had gulped about 59 per cent of the Federal Government’s N3.2 trillion revenue.

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