El-Rufai and planned mass sacking of civil servants: Appeal for caution

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By Yusuf Shehu Usman

El Rufai is trying to test the efficacy of text book economic theory by proposing to lay off workers from the civil service on account of lack of productivity or funds to pay their salaries

One thing Mallam should know is that the civil service does not and can’t operate on the same principles of profiteering as the private sector.

In classical economic theories you will be right to argue on concepts like value for money, productivity and results from investment
However, the civil service is not strictly and originally based on such principles

It is seen largely as the benefits those who suffered themselves to go to school should derive from the system to the resources of which, they are co-owners.

It is also a fact that employment into the civil service is viewed as a way of reducing general unemployment and social tension in the society

Therefore El Rufai should know that laying off such a huge number of civil servants, will not come without it’s consequences
It will create tension, restiveness and more importantly, accentuate the rate of crime in the society and his Government would need much more than what it may save from sacking the civil servants, to contain the social unrest and societal dislocation
El Rufai should further know that it is not that successive leaders from independence till date are daft or unaware of economic theories when they didn’t tinker with the public service by way of mass retrenchment of workers. Some of them are better economists than el Rufai

They knew very well that providing civil service jobs is a social economic imperative and a panacea to tension and social malaise in the society

It would be recalled that a previous attempt in recent past to try a similar policy in the federal civil service by even a well designed template to down size, right size, restructure, retrench ( chose any of the terms you like) ended in an unmitigated disaster, the effect of which the service and the social order in the society, are yet to recover from

We should always learn from history or we will be condemned to repeat historical disasters
Leadership is not only about being urbane or flamboyant with ideas. It is more about care and compassion for the people being led
El Rufai should reconsider his intended policy of mass disengagement of civil servants

Instead, he should show his managerial ingenuity and knowledge of economics by instituting reforms that should make the civil service more productive and result oriented within the structural framework it is predicated

The Mallam should know that he is not the most intelligent governor in Nigeria nor is he the most pragmatic

The other governors too are feeling the pinch but they are enduring the heavy load of wage bill of the civil service not because they don’t know that they could lighten the burden through mass retrenchment, but more importantly because they are aware that on the balance, it would pay more to provide the people some form of social security through employment in the civil service with all its trappings of inefficiency and unproductivity

It should be seen as a part of the social safety net or palliatives for the people while the leaders engage in their huge looting and plundering of our common patrimony and we are not down sizing or retrenching them

Yusuf Shehu Usman, Former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Nasarawa State

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