Prioritizing worker’s and retirees’ welfare are key areas that the katsina State government under the Governor Aminu Bello Masari-led APC administration has been given serious attention with a view to encouraging civil servants to effectively serve the state. Indeed, the government has ensured prompt payment of not only workers’ wages but also pensions and gratuities of retirees amidst the poor Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state.
Certainly, the effort was for sure aimed at bettering workers’ living conditions, far better than the miserly package inherited from successive administrations by Governor Masari when he took over the mantle of leadership in 2015.
It is worthy of note that this administration has embarked on a series of welfare programmes and innovative plans which are beyond just payment of salaries. First was the approval of a new national minimum wage without delay. More interesting to know is the fact that in spite of the economic challenges in the nation, the Katsina government saw the importance and implemented the New National Minimum Wage for all Workers earning below N30,000.00 minimum wage and sequential adjustment of those earning above N30,000.00 in order to maintain salary gaps across all grade levels and steps in salary structures being operated in the state.
Add to it, the state government has also committed itself to the payment of monthly salaries as and when due, latest 25th of every month, without interruptions.
Speaking in this regard, the Head of Civil Servant in the state, Idris Tune, explained that “at inception of the Masari administration, the government inherited a backlog of gratuities and death benefits for retirees of state, local governments and local education authorities. The sum of N70,992,038,404.45 was paid to pensions and gratuities between June 2015 to August 2020”.
Tunde noted: “In order to sustain the ongoing effort of the government in payment of retirement benefits to workers in the state and LGAs/LGEs, a bill is before the state House of Assembly for consideration to establish a Defined Contributory Pension Scheme in the State based on the Jigawa Model.
“When the bill is passed into law both the government and workers will contribute monthly and the workers will be receiving lump sums of gratuity and pensions like what is obtained in the current system. Government will not allow Pension Fund Administrators to determine how to pay retired Civil Servants their hard earned retirement benefits”.
The head of service revealed that when the present administration took over in May 2015, most structures in the official quarters for civil servants were dilapidated.
He however said a technical committee was constituted and immediately went round to rehabilitate the dilapidated structures. He noted that the committee which conducted its assignment between August 2015 and September 2020 has rehabilitated over 343 houses at the total cost of N251,664,095.00 in seven phases.
Tune did not hesitate to applaud the giant strides of the state government which entered into partnership with some private developers with a view to providing affordable houses to workers in the state.
He added that the government has moved further to “providing land to four private developers for the provision of the houses: Hayat and Sadiq Nig. Ltd., Artigrat Ltd, Merit Homes and Properties Ltd, and Safaz and Shelter Ltd.
Tunde stated: “Despite limited resources available, the government has also granted approval for the recruitment of 3,667 staff as a replacement for those who left the services of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) from June 2015 to date.
“The Government has also resuscitated payment of refurbishing revolving loan to Civil Servants in the State which was abandoned by the previous administration. So far, the total sum of N450,630,000.00 has been disbursed to 4,878No beneficiaries from 2017 to date.”
Commenting on the medical assistance for civil servants, the head of service said the Masari administration has deemed it fit to provide medical assistance not only to civil servants but also their families, both at home and abroad.
Tunde explained: “In improving the quality of life of workers and their families, government has signed a memorandum of understanding with the organised Labour for the state Contributory Health Care Management Agency to be providing access to adequate and affordable healthcare to all categories of public servants in the state and local governments effective from January, 2021.”
In addition, Masari administration doesn’t want any aspect that pertains to workers’ welfare to be left out and as such he has also ensured prompt implementation of promotions to deserving staff, seeing it as one of the key motivating factors for workers to put in their best in the development of the state.
As usually done, the junior staff are being promoted under delegated power of state MDAs, while the civil service commission,Teacher Service Board, state parastatals and agencies are handling prompt promotions of senior staff on G.L. 07 and above.
However, from available records, about 2002 officers have been recommended for promotions to the state management level, G.L 13 and above. They are all said to have been promoted between June 2015 and April 2020.
From inception of this administration in 2015, the state government has sponsored 2,092 civil servants for long and short-term training, seminars and conferences both home and abroad, which amounts to N301,083,335,.03.
Again, the abolishing of tenure system was one policy the present administration made that has a far-reaching effect on both the state bureaucracy and social stability. This, for sure, was a lingering issue settled once for all.
Upgrading of Bala Abdullahi College of Administration, Funtua was also another important effort that civil servants are thankful to the government for. This government took administrative, technical and financial decisions to ensure that the only college meant for civil servants in the state was upgraded to a diploma-awarding institution and successfully accomplished it.
Accordingly, the sum of N150,226,836.64million was said to be expended in the provision of facilities and renovation of existing ones. All these are geared towards meeting NBTE standard/requirement for accreditation.
But the beauty of this was that staff were sourced within the service and others were employed to meet the requirement of the NBTE accreditation of four Diploma courses at the College, including Office Technology Management, Public Administration, Computer Science and Purchasing and Supply.
Another important thing the Katsina government did in the educational sector was the resolution in adopting the National Council of State which allows holders of HND with PGD in relevant subjects to reach up to Directorate level and issuance of circular Number ED.5/2017 w.e.f. 1/1/2018. This has broken the existing barriers.