Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has described as a violation of the Constitution the reported proposal by governors of the 36 states to President Muhammadu Buhari on downsizing of civil servants above 50 years.
HURIWA said the move violates section 42 subsection 1 of the 1999 Constitution because, according to the group, it is discriminatory against an age bracket even as it breaches extant civil service rules which peg retirement age at 60.
HURIWA said rather, what could lead to the 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.
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 a total collapse of the nation’s economy.
The rights group suggested that instead, the executive arm of government at both the state and federal governments should drastically cut down on the costs of governance including amending constitutional provisions on the appointment of ministers and commissioners to peg the number of each category at 6 for ministers representing the 6 geopolitical zones for the federal government and three commissioners per state representing the three Senatorial zones of each state.
It also advised that special advisers be reduced to two for each tier of federal and state government.
Besides, HURIWA said the law should be amended so citizens above 50 years cannot 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 reforms of the laws aforementioned to peg the ages of executive officials of the federal and state government, then there is no justification to discriminate against civil servants.
HURIWA maintained that the cost of running a single office of governor or president or even commissioner by far outstrips the salaries of 100 civil servants.
It wondered why civil servants of over 50 years are blamed for the habitual and perennial wastages of public finances that occur when the costs of running these executive offices of governor and president are computed.
HURIWA said if the 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 governments then there will be enough resources to build and maintain infrastructure.
It wondered what funds would be left for social services since it is now possible for one public office holder like the Accountant General of the Federation to corner financial resources that are enough to pay one-year salaries of all the Federal Government workers.
“Did the EFCC not inform us that the sacked Accountant General of the Federation allegedly stole N109 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?” The group queried.
HURIWA alleged that in their thinking, in a bid to prevent the nation from imminent economic collapse, the Nigerian governors advised the federal government to retire all federal civil servants who are older than 50 years, describing the suggestion as a celebration of executive idiocy.
The governors made the proposal at a meeting with President Buhari in July, an online publication, according to widespread reports.
The proposal also urged the government to begin implementation of the updated Stephen Oronsaye Report, which suggested the 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.