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Thursday, 21 October 2021

Senate Expresses Shock at Increase in Recurrent Expenditure Despite Embargo on Employment

The Senate Thursday descended heavily on the Federal Government of Nigeria over embargo placed on employment and yet the  yearly increases  in recurrent expenditure.

This is as Senator Ali Ndume (APC Borno South), threatened to leave the country if relevant authorities refuse put things in order by diffusing the ticking time bomb of unemployment.

Senate's anger was triggered by submissions made by the Chairman of National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC), Mr Ekpo Nta before the Senate Committee on Establishment.

The failure of Nta to tell the committee the total amount in salaries and wages the federal government pays its workforce yearly, infuriated many members of the committee who wondered why recurrent expenditure in yearly budget is not decreasing on account of the embargo placed on employment and retirements at the various agencies.

Specifically, Senator Ali Ndume in taking up the NSIWC  Boss, said the committee ought  to know the total wage bill of Federal government workers in a bid to curtail the dangerous trend of increases  in yearly recurrent expenditure component of the budget without new recruitments and even with retirement of workers on yearly basis.

"Honestly speaking, time bomb is ticking out there with this policy (employment embargo) because of the doors shut out against millions of youths seeking employment.

"Making it worrisome is the fact that despite the policy, since 2018 till now, recurrent expenditure components of yearly budget have been increasing. 

"In 2018, it was N3.5trillion, N4trillion in 2019, N4.5trillion in 2020, N5.6trillion 2021 and N6.83trillion in the projected N16.39trillion 2022 budget.

"It is bad for recurrent expenditure to be increasing on yearly basis without increase in the number of workforce. 

"The embargo is turning to a time bomb that can explode at anytime as witnessed in some countries in recent past. 

"Personally, I'm already thinking of where to run to if the avoidable crisis is not averted. I visited Ghana and Niger recently  in this regard."

Other members of the committee like Suleiman Kwari (APC Kaduna North) Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP Ondo Central) and the Chairman of the committee, Ibrahim Shekarau (APC Kano North), aligned themselves with Ndume's admonition.

Pointedly, the  Chairman of the Committee, directed the Salaries and Wages Commission Chairman to laiase with the Accountant General of the federation and other management  officials of IPPIS, for required harmonization in arriving at total amount of salaries/wages federal government pays per annum. 

The NSIWC boss had earlier in his presentation, lamented that his agency recruited last in 2008 and that the planned extension of year of service and retirement age for primary and secondary schools teachers, will further shut the door against fresh graduates.

"The policy seems good but what happened to young graduates with teaching qualification", he quipped.

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