Workers Day: Reflection on the hardship in Nigeria

It is true that the eight years of the out-going government have caused a lot of damages to Nigerian workers. From 29th May, 2015 to this time, private, public workers and all the citizens of the country have had a life upside down from what was expected. From the federal to state and local governments, workers have been subjected to serious hardship.

The Muhammadu Buhari government in 2022 took a decision to sack civil servants above 50 years old and to levy any civil servant earning more than N30, 000 which it could however not implement. Unfortunately the Kaduna state government sacked 25% of its workforce during the Covid-19 lockdown i.e. over 21,000 civil servants.

In April 2021, the Governor Nasir El-Rufai government sacked 4,000 local government workers. Niger state government retrenched 754 from the state service. Ondo sacked 2,000 personnel in July, 2022 Zamfara state sacked 21 permanent secretaries. These are the kinds of jeopardy and catastrophe that befell workers in most states.

While, the payment of salary is another turmoil, the denial of civil servants’ right to peaceful protest is an unforgivable crime in the eight years of the Buhari government. The loggerheads between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was frequent. ASUU was on strike for a total 13 months; almost 600 days with little achievement. Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics spent 147 days on strike, and that was how many unions went on strike for various reasons of broken promises by the Buhari government.

The deteriorating economy is a big punch to Nigerian civil servants in the eight years under review. Nigeria’s inflation before 2015 was in a single digit, less than 9.6 % in December, 2016. But inflation hits 21.82% in January 2023. Petrol was N87 per liter in 2015 but it’s N185 in 2023 and sold at N210 to N300 in some parts of the country.

Electricity unit was N11 per kWh but costs N72.2 per unit, diesel was less than N200 but now N800, a bag of foreign rice was less than N9000 but hiked to almost N70, 000, Dollar exchange rate was below N200 but officially N547. The cost of education is also prohibitive. Some states and federal universities hiked tuition fees by almost 50% to 150%, making it unbearable for civil servants to send their children to school.

Some states have refused to pay the N30,000 minimum wage, while many others are indebted to workers. Zamfara state is owing its workers two months salary; Taraba, Nasarawa, Edo, Ebonyi, Ondo, Plateau, Imo, Abia are owing salaries of two to six months. The federal government is owing ASUU 11 months.

From 2015 and now, Nigeria has deteriorated badly. While workers in other countries are rejoicing, Nigerian workers are lamenting over bad governance. However, it appears there is light at the tunnel as another government takes over ushers on May 29. Nigerians will be happy to have a government that will revive the economy and make life bearable for the people.

Auwal Ahmed Ibrahim (Goronyo),
Mass Communication Department, Kaduna Polytechnic, Kaduna state
[email protected]