The two leading political parties in Oyo State exchange brickbats over the fate of 3,000 workers recently sacked by the state government
The recent sack of 3,000 workers of the Oyo State civil service by the administration of Abiola Ajimobi, governor of the state, has led to a war of words between the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.
Explaining the rationale behind the sack, the state government, through a statement issued by Festus Adedayo, special adviser to the governor on media, said the exercise was imperative to save the integrity of the service while maintaining that those affected were members of staff identified to have run foul of the rules of their engagement.
Adedayo explained that those sacked were those who falsified age claims, forged certificates, who have no letters of appointment or who were retired but were still on the payroll of government and others who have outstanding disciplinary cases.
He said Ajimobi administration inherited a staff rationalisation list from the immediate past government, compiled by Captain Consulting. The outfit came up with a list of workers with deficiencies that violated their rules of engagement with the state government’s public and civil service. “When the Ajimobi administration came into office, even though it was persuaded that allowing indicted workers to stay in the service would affect the morale of workers with genuine documents and was against the rules of equity and fair-play, as well as constituting a potential pollution in the ranks of workers in the state, government immediately initiated a public service process of giving these workers the rights of fair hearing by setting up a panel to review the consultant’s reports.”
He said government secured an indemnity from the consulting firm to further ascertain that due process was followed in the exercise of compiling the list of the affected staff. And after the exercise of painstakingly verifying the veracity of the claims of the consulting outfit, many of the workers who were exonerated by the panel had their names removed from the list and are not affected by the current cleansing exercise.”The Oyo State government is committed to improving the lot of workers in the state. It has done this in the last one year by paying more attention to workers’ welfare and promotion as at when due. It will not, in the spirit of the new Oyo State that it is bent on having, continue to abet the continued service of workers who forged their certificates, ages or who violated their rules of engagement, to stay a day longer in the workforce. It is like a cancer which, if not promptly checked, can eat up the whole of the system,” he said.
But the state government’s action immediately attracted criticisms from the PDP, the main opposition party in the state. The party accused the ACN of trying to reduce the state workforce by all means and transferring the blame of its action on PDP, saying the ACN should resolve the problem it brought upon itself in the state. Dotun Oyelade, media adviser to Alao-Akala, former governor of the state, who spoke on behalf of the party, said the sacking of over 3,000 of the state workforce is not only premeditated but the first step in a long-drawn strategy to prune down the strength of the civil service to a manageable level as a result of the deadlock surrounding the minimum wage.
However, Dauda Kolawole, state publicity secretary of the ACN, said the Ajimobi - led administration in the state, had no apologies for disconnecting from the corruption of the past administration in the state. He claimed that legally, there was no contract between the state government and the sacked workers who forged documents that allowed them into the civil service in the first place.
While workers in the state wait to see the end of what many of them believe would affect the fortune of the ACN in the next elections, analysts are wondering why a progressive party that should be interested in creating jobs should be sacking workers.
Many people believed that it would not be out of place to say that the sacking of the workers, coming at a time that the problem of the new minimum wage in the state has not been resolved, leaves much to be desired.
When Ajimobi assumed office about a year ago, workers of the state civil service expected he would not waste time in implementing the new national minimum wage of N18, 000 approved by Adebayo Alao-Akala, the immediate past governor. This is because Ajimobi had during his electioneering campaign boasted that the N18, 000 minimum wage was too small for an average worker to survive on. The workers’ in the state were glad, that at least, they found someone who knew their pains.
However, their hopes were dashed when he did not implement the minimum wage many months after assuming office. This compelled the workers to embark on many weeks of strike.