Kwara civil servants and fear of the unknown

There are growing concerns among civil servants  in Kwara state about what would befall them after the 2023 governorship elections.  UMAR BAYO  ABDULWAHAB reports.

Just like it is happening  in many other sectors,  political gladiators, key players and stakeholders are struggling to remould  the opinions of their followers on who to vote for in the 2023 general elections that would bring about personal benefits to them.   

In Kwara state, rumours have been rife that the administration of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq  would  sack workers if re-elected for the second  term come 2023.

Some observers of the trend of events in the state are of the views that the civil servants are probably misinterpreting  the gesture of the governor who had in the last three and half years paid much attention to their welfare and improved their conditions of service.

On the other hands, analysts are of the opinion that the sack rumour is the handiwork of some politicians  in the opposition party who probaly have infiltrated the civil servants.

Since assumption of office on May 2019, Governor  AbdulRazaq  who clinched power on the ‘O to ge’ mantra has demonstrated his readiness to reposition the civil service for better efficiency. 

On several occasions, he had lamented that his administration inherited  a huge burden occasioned by rot caused by the outster PDP government  in the state.

But against  all odds, he has brought about significant improvement in the the state’s  civil service with positive impacts on the lives of workers.

For instance, the state government paid workers’ salaries for the month of December 2022 ahead of Christmas and New Year celebrations.

The governor had since coming on board in May 2019 sustained the payment of workers salaries earlier during festive periods for them to make adequate preparations and provisions for their families.

The governor has also approved and commenced 100% payment of 2009 and 2010 arrears of pensions and gratuities for retirees in the local governments from the SURE-P refund to states.

Kwara under  AbdulRazaq has also not defaulted in the payment of workers’ salaries, a clear departure from what was obtained in the past where months of salaries were owed to workers even as he implemented the N30,000 minimum wage for all categories of workers in the state. 

He also rewarded the best civil servant  of  2022 with a new car while others got  big prizes ranging from Plasma TV,  refrigirator, among others.

AbdulRazaq upon assumption of office also cleared backlogs of salaries owed to workers by the previous administrations across MDAs.

He has also restored funding of MDAs with running costs to guarantee efficiency and effectiveness in their day-to-day operations and administration.

Also since 2019 to date, the AbdulRazaq ‘s government promoted a total of 9,175 civil servants between 2019 and 2021.

The government has also commenced the 2022 promotion examinations for 2,096 civil servants.

Cairman of the state Civil Service Commission, Alhaja Habeebat Yusuf, while giving  the details of the promotion  said,  “In 2019, a total of 2,767 civil servants across ministries, departments and agencies were promoted. We also promoted 3,327 in 2020 while 3,081 benefitted from the 2021 promotion exercise.

”And for 2022, a total of 2,096 civil servants have sat for promotion examinations and currently undergoing interviews.”

She said the governor’s gesture has boosted the morale of the civil servants. “Unlike in the past when civil servants were stagnated, they now enjoy regular promotion in addition to other welfare packages approved for them by the AbdulRazaq’s administration.”

Although, like Oliver Twist, the organised labour and civil servants  remain one institution that no government  can satisfy all their demands.

Of course, no one can blame them when you compare the resources and benefits  elective and appointed political office holders accrue to themselves.

But for those who have been following the trend of events in Kwara state in recent times, one will appreciate Governor AbdulRazaq’s gestures for civil servants.  

But this gesture according to analysts is being  misnterpretted by some of the civil servants who believe is not going to be the same if elected for a second term.

Gov AbdulRazaq dismissed  sack rumour 

Dismissing  the sack rumour, the governor  said, “One of the ways to maintain social stability in the society is to ensure that many people are productively engaged and are able to put food on the table of their families.

“For us, sacking workers is not an option. Our belief is that the civil servants are the major lubricants of this economy. Whatever you pay them helps to keep the fabric of the society together. Worse still, you really don’t save anything by sacking workers. Instead, it creates more problems. It is not an option for us.”

The governor spoke at the banquet hall in Ilorin, the state capital, during an interactive session commemorating the 2022 Civil Service Week. 

He reiterated that civil servants are the life wire of public service, recalling how his administration had restored running costs to the civil service after many years. 

The programme was organised by the office of the State Head of Service headed by Mrs Susan Modupe Oluwole, and attended by the deputy governor, Kayode Alabi; cabinet members; Kwara NLC chief, Comrade Issa Ore; TUC chairman Comrade Tunde Joseph;  Chairman Joint Negotiating Council Comrade Saliu Suleiman; among others.

“Since our assumption of office, we have prioritised payment of salaries, pension and gratuity because we know how important they are. When that is not done, it creates a lot of distractions. But we want you to remain focused on what you do. For us, we can say it is most paramount for us to pay your wages and prioritise your training and welfare,” he said.

The event afforded the governor another opportunity to take questions and observations from the civil servants — after which he responded in great details.

He commended the workers for their continued support for the government.

HOS wants workers to reciprocate gestures 

Mrs Oluwole, on her part,  said the interactive session formed a part of her office’s mandate to set aside a period for workers to rub minds on issues affecting their interests.

She commended the government for its emphasis on workers’ welfare, including the regular payment of their wages, promotion as well as the pensions and gratuities for the retirees. 

She tasked the workforce to reciprocate the  gesture by doubling their efforts towards assisting the administration to further succeed in policy implementation. 

Also the state chairman of NLC, comrade Aliyu Issa Ore commended Gov AbdulRazaq for his commitment to workers’ welfare, saying Kwara is among the few states with great and consistent implementation of the minimum wage — a sentiment repeated by other labour leaders.

Commendations

Some of the workers, who spoke at the interactive session took turns to eulogise the  governor for treating them well in various manners since inception of office.

Falade John Olumuyiwa, a director at the State Fire Service appreciated the governor for his timely renovation and equipping of the Service.

Comrade Sanni Oloyin said the civil servants are happier seeing the governor interfacing with them and requested that the interaction be done quarterly.

Mustapha Mary, a deputy director from the Ministry of Environment, requested upward review of the fund released for monthly payment of gratuity, although she acknowledged that it has never been so good.

Bashir Lawal (KWARMA) called for the construction of more bus stops on the highways, and commended the government for the approval of promotion of their colleagues which he said had hitherto been pending.  

Demola Olanrewaju of the Ministry of Communication who commended the administration for its unprecedented strides and commitment to staff welfare, appealed for more equipment for the ministry.