HURIWA Calls For Constitution Amendment, Want Governors Age Peg At 50
*Opposes Plot to Sack Civil Ser vants above 50;
The reported proposal by governors of the 36 states to President Muhammadu Buhari on downsizing of civil servants above 50 is a violation of section 42 (1) of the 1999 Constitution because it is discriminatory against an age bracket even as it breaches extant civil service rules which pegs retirement age at 60, says HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).
HURIWA said rather that what could lead to imminent collapse of the economy of Nigeria is the widespread political corruption by public office holders including the governors and the Presidency who carve out a huge chunk of financial resources that are not captured in the budget and pilfer the funds under the guise of security votes even as the Rights group said the exorbitant costs of running the executive arms of government at the two tiers of government of federal and State especially are the draining pipes that could precipitate total collapse of the nation’s economy.
Instead, the Rights group suggests that the executive arm of government at both the state and federal government tiers should drastically cut down on the costs of governance including amending constitutional provisions on appointment of ministers and commissioners to peg the number of each category at 6 for ministers representing the 6 geopolitical zones for federal government and three commissioners per state representing the three Senatorial zones of each state just as special advisers should be reduced to two for each tiers of federal and state government.
Besides, the leading Civil Rights Advocacy group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) said the law be amended so citizens above 50 years can’t run for offices of governors and president of Nigeria because of the possibility that persons above 50 may be subject to unexplained health challenges associated with old age that may constitute financial drains to the coffers of both the state and federal government.
HURIWA said if the Federal government disagrees with these far-reaching reform of the laws aforementioned to peg the ages of executive officials of the federal and state of tiers of government, then there is no justification to discriminate against civil servants.
HURIWA maintains that the cost of running a single office of governor or president or even commissioner by far outstrips the salaries of 100 civil servants just as it wonders why civil servants of over 50 years are blamed for the habitual and perennial wastages of public finances that occurs when the costs of running these executive offices of governor and president are computed. HURIWA said if Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and ICPC are to function independently and block leakages of the revenues of governments at both the State and federal government then there will be enough resources to build and maintain infrastructure just as the Rights group wondered what funds would be left for social services since it is now possible for one public office hipder like the Accountant General of the Federation to corner financial resources that is enough to pay one year salaries of all the Federal Government workers. “DId the EFCC not informed us that the sacked Accountant General of the Federation allegedly stole #109 billion? Why blame the near collapse nature of the badly administered economy on the poorly paid civil servants including teachers who earn less than #100,000 per month?”
HURIWA recalled that in their warped thinking that in a bid to prevent the nation from imminent economic collapse, the Nigerian governors have advised the federal government to retire all federal civil servants who are older than 50 years. HURIWA calls this suggestion a celebration of executive idiocy.
Besides, the governors also want the government to raise taxes across boars as well as levy anyone earning N30,000 and above monthly.
The governors made the proposal at a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in July, an online publication, PREMIUM TIMES exclusively gathered from sources privy to details of the meeting.
The proposal also urged the government to begin implementation of the updated Stephen Oronsaye Report, which suggested merger and shutdown of agencies and parastatals with duplicated or contested functions as a way to address bureaucratic inefficiency and reduce the cost of governance.
Officials familiar with details of the meeting, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES, explained that the governors were concerned about the deteriorating state of the economy and a proposal to restore fiscal discipline was presented to the federal government.
The federal civil service employs just about 89,000 people but will spend about N4.1 trillion on personnel costs this year, from its N17 trillion budget for the entire country. It is not clear how many workers are above 50 years of age, or how much goes to them.
The suggestion comes as indications emerge that the nation may be teetering towards the cliff of economic collapse.
The online publication had reported that Nigeria’s external reserves amount to only $15 billion, well below the $36 billion balance on the gross external reserves claimed by the bank. With the nation spending N5.9 trillion on imports in the first quarter of the year, reserves of $15 billion would barely cover four months of import.
HURIWA dismissed this proposal as selfish, wicked, unproductive and asked that the governors who constitute the drain pipes of the economy needs to cut down on the costs of governance which have ballooned out of control in the current dispensation whereby the President has over 200 aides and advisers and the governors have same number of idle but expensively maintained aides that contribute nothing to the nation’s GDP.