Teddy Oscar, Abuja
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Thursday warned the duo of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, minister of finance and co-ordinating minister of the economy, and Bright Okogu, director general of Budget Office, Bright Okogu, regarding the false information they are feeding the public concerning the wages of civil servants.
As a result, it urged the Federal Government to caution the duo to refrain from such comments.
It threatened that both officers would incur the wrath of the Nigerian workers, if they fail to heed the warning, TUC made particular reference to claims by both officers that the civil service consumes 37 percent of the recurrent expenditure in the country?s annual federal budget.
?Surely, this is overly speculative on the part of both federal officers. So also is their assertion that the total number of federal civil servants is about 1,000,000. Perhaps the Ministry of Finance and the Budget Office should publish the salaries and other emoluments of all civil servants, giving details of what each ministry, department and agency (MDA) spends as remuneration each month.
?For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to let it be known that the total number of federal civil servants is less than 100,000 while the rest of the figure touted by Okonjo-Iweala and Okogu are public servants in the federal higher institutions of learning, the military, the police, the fire service, Customs, Immigration, the Central Bank, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other agencies of the government.
?As a country struggling to come out of the financial woods, we certainly could do without the goof by the minister and the director general. Their miss-talk does achieve one good thing though: it accentuates the need for the inclusion of representatives of organised labour in all committees, boards and other bodies set up by the government ? something that we have repeatedly advocated for.
?It is evident that the ministry and the budget office will be prime beneficiaries of such a policy. If nothing else, our representatives in those bodies could counsel them on the distinctions between the civil service and the public service.
?Rather than crying wolf where there is none, Okonjo-Iweala and Okogu would do well to tell Nigerians how the foreign reserves of the country got depleted to the present laughable state. They should also formulate a panacea to the financial rascality and lack of accountability in government circles as well as the present practice where politicians and their retinue of advisers, special assistants, senior assistants and consultants receive inordinate jumbo pay and allowances at the expense of the poor masses,? an emailed statement issued by Bobboi Bala Kaigama and Musa Lawal, president secretary general, respectively, read.