El-Rufai pays N13bn death benefits, gratuities

Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s administration has paid over N13 billion in death benefits and gratuity since 2015 from the N14 billion debt the state inherited since 2010, the state government has said. 

Addressing a joint press conference on Saturday to explain the proposed sack of workers by the state government in the face of dwindling revenue, the Commissioner for Local Government, Malam Ja’afaru Sani and Head of Service, Mrs Bariatu Mohammed​​ said Kaduna state has remained in the forefront of workers welfare in first paying the new minimum wage and raising minimum retirees pension to N30,000 per month.

They said that the memo purportedly seen by NLC was a forged memo in circulation since 2019, noting that the alleged casual engagement of workers on Grades 01-06, the imposition of maximum staff strength of 50 on each local government and the compulsory retirements of officers that are above 50 are all fictions and untrue.

“In September 2019, the Kaduna state government became the first government at any level in Nigeria to pay the new minimum wage, along with consequential adjustments. It followed up by swiftly raising the minimum pension to N30,000 monthly for retirees on the old defined benefits scheme. The 23 local government councils in the state also complied and began paying the new wages.

“Kaduna has courageously attempted to settle the N14bn it inherited as arrears of death benefit and gratuity from 2010, commencing payments with those who had exited service the longest. Since 2015, the Kaduna state government has paid over N13bn in death benefits and gratuity.

“This government initiated the Public Service Reform and Revitalisation Programme in 2016 to modernise the service and make it more efficient and ICT-savvy. Apart from teachers and health workers, government continues to recruit required professionals for its agencies.

“It creates new jobs as it exits personnel from cadres that have been rendered obsolete. It is investing in training and has devoted 2% of FAAC receipts to fund training as a rigorous investment in building and boosting the capacity of its personnel.

“Amidst all the revenue challenges we have encountered over the last six years, the Kaduna state government has always prioritised its ability to deliver capital projects and pay its personnel costs, especially salaries. As sitting tenants, Kaduna state civil servants bought most of the non-essential residential houses the government sold in 2017 and the government supported their ability to pay for these houses by arranging single-digit interest mortgages for them.

“This government has demonstrated in action its commitment to the welfare of its workers. But it insists that this is sustainable only in the context of the general welfare of residents of the state that the government itself is mandated to serve. Thus, it is not sustainable to persist in spending 84% to 96% of its FAAC receipts on salaries and personnel costs as has been the experience of the state since October 2020.

“This government was not elected to devote most public funds to paying government workers and treat that as its defining governance mission, to the detriment of developing the state and its people.

“In response to the fiscal headwinds caused by declining FAAC receipts and huge outlays on personnel costs, the government announced in April 2021 that it will rightsize the public service and reduce the number of political appointees and civil servants. The necessary verification of credentials for full implementation of this painful but necessary decision is still being done.

“It has not determined the total number of officers that might be affected by the decision. Neither has it stopped paying the minimum wage, despite the prompting of the denizens of sentiment who have urged it to suspend payment and thereby violate the national Minimum Wage Act. The Kaduna state government prefers to take lawful and rational steps that are within its powers to rightsize its personnel and thereby reduce its wage bill.”