The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) has called on the minister of finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to substantiate how N1.8 trillion is being spent annually for wages in the public service.
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday and signed by its secretary-general, Comrade Alade Bashir Lawal, the union emphasized that it had become necessary for the finance minister to give graphic details of the amount so that Nigerians could be better informed on the issue.
Last Monday, the finance minister, through the director-general of Budget Office, Dr. Bright Okogu, while exchanging views with the House Committee on Health in respect of the ongoing nationwide strike by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), stated that the federal government’s wage bill for public servants had risen from N857 billion in 2009 to N1.8 trillion while the staff strength in the public service is now 1.2 million.
Reacting to the statement, the ASCSN secretary-general, Comrade Lawal, urged the finance minister to state publicly how much of the N1.8 trillion is consumed by public office holders, including ministers, advisers, assistants, senators, and members of the House of Representatives, including their humongous quarterly allocations.
“It is also necessary for Dr. Okonjo-Iweala to tell Nigerians how much salary is paid by each ministry,department and agency (MDA) per year, and their staff strength.
“When you have done these analyses, it will become crystal clear how much of the N1.8 trillion is consumed by the whopping emoluments of the political office holders.
“Besides, it should be stated that records at our disposal show clearly that the staff strength in the entire Public Service is about 870,000 and not 1.2 million being bandied about by the minister unless there is a hidden agenda somewhere,” the union said.
The ASCSN pointed out that Nigerian political office holders were the highest paid in the world, with most of them earning more than the U.S.
president whereas Nigerian workers are among the least paid in Africa, and live below one dollar per day.