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“Public servants are working more to get less”
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“Public servants are working more to get less”

image (2)Nigeria’s recession is causing hardship. Oluwasegun Olakoyenikan, 22, a Correspondent from Benin City, Nigeria, explains how a drop in oil prices hurts national revenue and leaves public servants without pay.

“Four days ago, it clocked six months since I received my last pay from the government of this state. Nevertheless, I will still have to resume office tomorrow to perform my duties as expected by my employer,” said Mrs. F. Ogunleye about her experience as a public servant who teaches in a public primary school in Oyo state, Nigeria.

The economy of the most populous black nation in the world and the largest exporter of crude oil in Africa is in recession, among other economy misfortunes.

According to a GDP figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBC) in August 2016, Nigeria officially entered recession after two successive quarters of negative GDP figures, at -0.36% and -2.06%.

As the recession bites harder, the country’s inflation rate has been increasing steadily for the past 11 months. It rose to the highest in December 2016 since October 2005.

Despite all efforts being taken by the country’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to bring down the 18.6 per cent inflation rate, it keeps increasing on a month-to-month and quarter-to-quarter basis since January 2016.

Most of the time, the masses are on the receiving end when governments are stuck with policies. Nigeria’s case is not different, as the country has been battling with high inflation rates and reduced government revenue from the nation’s foreign (FX) reserves.

This shortfall in FX reserves has rendered many states of the country incapable of meeting their financial obligations, which include paying workers’ salary. This owes to the fact that the states’ wage bill for a month far exceeds the amount the states get from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC), with the exception of few states that are self-sufficient.

Mrs. Ogunleye is just one of the millions of Nigerians employed by one tier of government or the other who have gone months without getting paid, but still have to resume their various places of work while spending more for commodities because of high inflation.

“Apart from the fact that I haven’t been paid for six months now, I still have to buy some necessities with the little money on me, but the sad news is, the prices of all these necessities have jumped up,” she said.

Some workers obtained loans from commercial banks with the hope of paying back with interest on monthly basis as they get paid when “things were normal” said Mr. Balogun, an officer at Osun state Civil Service Commission.

According to him, “when government defaults payment for a month, the banks are happy, as it is certain they will make multiple deductions on the borrower’s account whenever he gets paid. In some cases, some of these workers will still have to balance the bank after such deductions most have been made, leaving them stranded for another months full of uncertainties.”

No doubt, as the prices of goods and services continue to rise and workers continue to get the same pay or are being owed, their revenues continue to dwindle. If this continues, some of these public servants will start living below the poverty line even as they earn their ‘bogus’ salaries.

Today, it has become a norm in Nigeria that you will require more money to get what you bought in the previous months. Even locally made goods are not exempted from this ordeal as producers blame high cost of production and taxation.

Schools increase fees every session, foods are expensive, cost of transportation makes an average man weigh the option of trekking over five kilometers rather than paying exorbitantly.

Economic experts have advised the Nigerian government to pump money into the system so as to mitigate the effect of the economic crisis on the people by increasing and paying workers’ salaries.

However, the government of Nigeria blames economic woes on the recent drop in the prices of crude oil in the global market and low production output that depletes the country’s foreign exchange reserve.

According to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, “Nigeria’s petroleum exports revenue represents over 90 per cent of the total exports revenue,” indicating that a slide in the price of oil will result in a shortfall of the country’s foreign reserves.

Meanwhile, recent data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria revealed that the nation’s FX reserves climbed to the highest since April 2016 to hit $27.82bn in January 25, 2017, representing a 12 per cent increase compared to the $25.bbn recorded in the last day of 2016.

This may be the end of the tunnel for Nigerians, particularly public servants who have been waiting to live their lives as duly employed and remunerated workers of the government.

Reach me on Twitter: @SegunAndrews.

photo credit: mark-vauxhall Speedy Cash Payday Loans Balloons via photopin (license)
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About me: I am a citizen journalist trained by the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) to report vital health, environment and poverty related issues in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

I stepped up in my journalism career with training by the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa (BMIA) to become a financial, economic and business journalist.

I report economic data, trading sessions from Nigeria Stocks Market and other key financial institutions.

I am a passionate young man who has determined to keep telling the stories behind public data.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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