Ekiti LG workers: Between Redundancy And Tilling The Soil

August 19, 2012

Since Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, announced that he would send redundant local government workers to farms across the state, the workers have been spoiling for war, writes FEMI MAKINDE.

It’s common knowledge that most local government secretariats in the country are a haven for redundant workers.

Hundreds of workers have no offices and there is no schedule of duty in many of these councils. Local government councils across the 36 states of the federation have been turned into pay points where some workers draw salaries at the end of every month for doing nothing.

Many who have businesses to transact at the councils have observed that the local governments have been turned to viewing centres and apart from watching movies, other activities carried out at the councils  include trading.

Redundancy is not the only problem but worse than that is the phenomenon of ghost workers, a conduit for draining the resources that ought to be used for the provision of infrastructure for the people.

To address this problem of ghost workers in Ekiti State, Governor Kayode Fayemi implemented the report of the staff audit carried out by his predecessor and 169 workers were dismissed while 336 workers who were found to have falsified their age were retired compulsorily.

The implementation of the report was announced at a press briefing by the Chairman of the Ekiti State Local Government Service Commission, Mr. Aderemi Ajayi, late 2011.

Despite the sacking, ghost workers have continued to find their way into the payroll of the 16 local government councils in the state.

A top government official in the state told SUNDAY PUNCH that the workforce of 22,000 in the 16 LGs was a burden on the lean purse of the state.

The source, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said, “They are still employing in the councils despite the embargo on it. I went home two months ago and I asked my cousin who was in search of job if he had got one and he told me that he had started working at a local government secretariat. I was shocked to hear that because I know that there is an embargo on employment in councils.”

Worried by the continuous increase in the number of council workers and its implications for development projects at the grassroots, Fayemi at the maiden edition of  the recent quarterly briefing by the caretaker chairmen of all the councils said the government was determined to rid the councils of ghost workers.  The governor blamed the inability of the councils to execute capital projects on the high wage bills.

He said, “A review of the workforce in the local governments has shown that the bulk of the money which could have been expended on capital projects is spent on the payment of salaries to unknown workers who are on the payroll of the councils. The government will soon begin a proper staff audit in the councils to fish out the ghost workers and help the local government councils to live up to their responsibilities. It is worrisome that there are 152 personnel in the works department of a particular local government but not all of them show up at work.”

Fayemi, who expressed dissatisfaction that the recurrent budget of all the local government councils was higher than their capital budget as a result of the inflated personnel, stressed that he owed the people of the state the duty to spend their resources prudently.

To match his words with action, the governor introduced biometric data capture for workers to differentiate genuine workers from the fake ones who are milking the state dry. The governor said the exercise became necessary to sanitise the system and rid it of ghost workers but he stressed that the exercise was not to retrench genuine workers.

The governor also stated that the problem of redundancy among the workers would soon be addressed as the state was ready to redeploy some of the workers to farms where they would be made to work for the money they collect.

He said, “We want to nip in the bud things that negatively affect genuine council workers. Some people believe that they just have to collect salaries from the local government without doing anything. Yes, we are doing the audit in the interest of Ekiti people. We need to know the legitimate local government staff and if we find you to be fake, we will ask you to leave the system.

“I have been to an office in the local government where I found 30 people doing what two people can do. There are other places we can put them because I have asked LG chairmen to cultivate 1,000 hectares of land each. It is not about retrenchment, the agenda is not to retrench anybody but to make them more useful and contribute meaningfully to the system.”

Shortly before the governor announced his plan of redeployment of council workers to farm, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees had threatened a showdown with the government over the non-implementation of the new minimum wage of N19, 300.

The secretary of the union in the state, Mr. Victor Adebayo, gave the government a 14-day ultimatum to implement the new wage or expect an unpalatable action from the workers.

Adebayo, in an interview with our correspondent, said, Fayemi had been harassing the LG workers since he came to power. He described the planned redeployment to farms as unfair, saying such was not spelt out in their employment letter.

He said, “We are waiting for the governor to begin the implementation of what he has said, then we will know what step to take to check him. There is a problem of unemployment in Ekiti and he should not add to the problem with his policies.”

The planned redeployment of the council workers has been generating mixed reactions since the governor made it public and while many lauded the initiative, some criticised it saying it was not part of what the governor promised while canvassing for votes.

Some of the LG workers who spoke with our correspondent flayed the governor saying it was wrong for him to force career officers from their chosen fields to farming. The council workers who did not want their name in print for fear of victimisation said, the workers would resist the move.

However, many of the residents who applauded the development described it as a good move saying the governor had shown his ingenuity and kindness by converting redundant workers to where they would be useful rather than asking them to leave. They further advised the governor to develop other business ventures such as block making, fishery, piggery and others for the workers to choose from.

The Chairman of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties in the state, Mr. Tunji Ogunlola, described the idea of moving the excess LG workers to farms as laudable. He said that the move would in the long run benefit the state and the workers because they would be useful and learn new vocations, which would be useful to them after leaving the service.

Ogunlola advised that the workers should still be entitled to all the benefits accruing to their colleagues at secretariats.

He said, “This is a good idea, we support it.  As long as the workers are not going to be sacked, it is good and it would assist in boosting the food production capacity in the state. The local government councils would also be able to raise more money from selling their products.

“Land belonging to some local government has been encroached upon but if the councils are using their land for agricultural purposes, nobody would have the audacity to go and chase them out of it. We support the idea, it’s a very good one and it shows that the governor is considerate and has the welfare of the workers at heart.”

The Director, Justice Development and Peace Initiative of Ekiti Catholic Diocese, Rev. Fr. Raphael Aborisade, also commended the initiative.

Aborisade said, “Some of the workers may not like this move but it is a fact that most local government workers are not doing anything. Many of them don’t have a specific work they do. If you ask them, they would just tell you that they are working in councils. I think it is good to make them useful but the affected workers may not like it.”


This article was first published in Sunday Punch on 19 August, 2012.


Last modified: August 19, 2012

One Response to " Ekiti LG workers: Between Redundancy And Tilling The Soil "

  1. … [Trackback]

    […] Information to that Topic: ekitistate.gov.ng/ekiti-lg-workers-between-redundancy-and-tilling-the-soil/ […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *