The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), has faulted a statement made by the Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, who called on state governors to sack workers.
Okupe, in a statement on Monday, said that it was becoming clearer that many states would be unable to meet up with their financial obligations now and thus advised state governments to sack some workers.
He predicted an imminent bankruptcy if the economic situation in the country worsens.
Sagay, who spoke in an interview with our correspondent on Tuesday, said although Okupe’s comment was logical, it would cause the disintegration of many families.
He said that while he would not advise governors to employ more people, sacking workers was not the right thing to do.
He said, “I think what he (Okupe) said is logical. But that logic cannot be applied to the public service because it is a social welfare. Many workers have children in schools and even their extended families depend on them for survival. Sacking workers is not an antidote and I totally disagree with him on that.”
Sagay slammed the leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress for suggesting an increase in the minimum wage from N18,0000 to N56, 0000, adding that the demand was irrational, unrealistic and a fantasy.
The senior advocate accused the labour leaders of trying to paralyse the nation with their ‘unrealistic’ demand.
“The N56,000 minimum wage is unrealistic. Some states cannot afford to pay the N18,000 minimum wage and you are trying to ask for a triple of that. The suggestion lacks rationality and reasoning. The labour leaders are either not serious or trying to cause trouble or paralyse the country,” Sagay said.
The lawyer said Nigeria urgently needed a restructuring that would reduce the states’ dependence on the Federal Government for resources.
On how to avert the diversion of the bailout funds, Sagay advised the Federal Government to put in place a mechanism that would ensure that the funds were directly paid to the workers.
He said the Federal Government could also consider asking for sureties before granting bailouts to states, adding that the sureties would be held liable if the funds were diverted.
He added, “It is not appropriate that one level of government is lending to another. This negates the principles of true federalism. The federation is skewed into a unitary system which allows the Federal Government to control a disproportionate portion of the national resources. The idea of states getting monthly allocations from the Federal Government is not making the states to be productive.
“States cannot continue to suckle and live like beggars all the time. The states must be given due control of their resources and let them pay certain amount monthly to the Federal Government which is called fiscal federalism.”
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