Recession: We won’t retrench workers —FG

• Says extension of service of Perm Sec constitutional

THE Federal Government has assured Nigerian workers that it has no plan to retrench staff, in spite of the current economic recession and dwindling revenue.

Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, who disclosed this on Monday, while briefing newsmen as part of activities marking the 2016 Civil Service Week, also said extension of service years of a Permanent Secretary was constitutional.

She said: “No, we are not planning to retrench. What this administration is doing is to improve the efficiency level of workers. The restructuring of some of the ministries will not lead to retrenchment of workers. Government is conscious of the current economic situation we are facing.

“It will be recalled that when some banks planned to retrench recently, the Minister of Labour and Employment was very hard on them.”

On the extension of the Service of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Jamila Shu’ara and the appointment of some Permanent Secretaries from outside the Federal Civil Service, Oyo-Ita explained that appointment of Permanent Secretaries was a prerogative of the president.

Shu’ara’s service was allegedly extended for about one year by the Federal Government after she was due for retirement from service.

The Head of Service said the extension of her years of service was constitutional, since appointment of permanent secretaries was at the discretion of the president who approved the extension.

She also disclosed that the Federal Government had commenced prosecution of those behind thousands of ghost workers recently discovered and removed from the payroll.

The Federal Government had recently discovered over 56, 000 ghost workers as a result of the implementation of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) and automated payroll system.

Oyo-Ita said the theme of this year’s Civil Service Week celebration: “The Nigerian Public Service: Towards overcoming harsh economic realities” was deliberately chosen to provide good reflection of the current situation and also offer concrete solutions going forward.

She used the opportunity to restate her abiding faith and confidence in the Civil Service and called on Nigerians to continue to support and appreciate the service and its workers.

“Since my assumption of office as Head of Civil Service of the Federation, I have started to put in place a number of programmes that would assuage some of the challenges confronting the Civil Service, particularly efficient service delivery and personal welfare,” she said.

The Head of Service also disclosed that government was working assiduously to pay about N293 billion death benefits and other staff claims.

She said: “On assumption of office, I met service-wide staff claims for promotion arrears first 23 days, repatriation allowance, death benefits and other staff claims totalling about N293 billion.

“The issue was presented to Mr President and he expressed deep concern and immediately directed the  Minister of Finance to address the situation. The payments would have been made but for the resource constraints of government,” she said.

She added that efforts were at advanced stage to prioritise the payment process, adding that phased payment formula and would be concluded in due course.