Time for tough conversation in Kwara - Ibraheem Abdullateef - 9japarrot


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Sunday 2 February 2020

Time for tough conversation in Kwara - Ibraheem Abdullateef

Time for tough conversation in Kwara - Ibraheem Abdullateef 

When are we going to look at ourselves straight in the face and tell ourselves the bitter truth about the danger of Kwara’s unsustainable labour force? When are we going to stop kicking the can down the road? In May 2019 when AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq came on board, one of the earliest conversations Kwara ought to have is what to do with its bloated civil service which has become like a social security net rather than exchange of quality service for pay. I am not saying all the workers in the civil service have no business being there. No. I am saying six in 10 possibly have no business earning from public purse in the name of salary. It is a different thing if we call what these workers earn as bonuses.

Let’s face it, a situation whereby less than one percent of the populace consumes 75 percent of monetary allocation to the state is not sustainable. I am not saying we should not continue to deceive ourselves. We really can. But we must face the fact that such practice will continue to hold us back. I am not aware of anywhere in the world where six in every 10 public workers wake up in the morning, take their bath, go to work and all they do between 8am and 5pm is to exchange banters without adding any value to the system that pays them. This is the system we currently have in Kwara State. Yet any attempt to open a discussion on it is met with scorn, blackmail, and the threat of all sorts.

                                              Ibraheem Abdullateef (EggHead)

We get nostalgic about systems (countries) that work. What is the work ethics there? What’s the employee-employer relation there? How do people get paid? The practice is to pay individual worker based on key performance indicators (KPI). You get paid based on what you bring to the table. Not for coming to work to mark register! That is why those systems are very productive and everyone is happy. What we do here is to pack political loyalists into public service without commensurate service delivery.

When last did you visit our ministries? What do most of those workers do there? Talking. Most of them are locked in WhatsApp/Facebook chats during work hours. Sometimes it is not because some of them don’t want to work. It is because there is basically nothing to do. They were hired for political reasons. That is a symptom of a rent system which Kwara typifies. Many were employed so that they can earn something at the end of the month to feed themselves and their family. Not because the state was short-staffed.  They were not employed to create value and then earn money as a result of the values they have created. It is the reason a teacher cannot write a simple sentence or even communicate in English language, the language of instruction in our schools. Ask yourself: who engaged such fellows and on what criteria? Things were so bad that people were getting employment letter in their homes without writing any application letter or sitting any examination.

The minimum wage madness is with us again and the government is clearly at the mercy of the same mob that creates no value most of the time. I agree a worker deserves decent pay. Yes. But such a worker must do something that equals the pay he earns or wants to earn. Is that the situation with us in Kwara?

Back to the argument above. If you bad-mouthed the Government, whether that of Ahmed  or AbdulRazaq, on the question of minimum wage, or you are raving that so and so amount must be paid, you should interrogate your position very well. How does the government spend 75 percent of its earnings on workers’ pay alone and develop the state? One must give. Let’s use our money to pay workers who do next to nothing and constitute just about one percent of our population and forget any impactful infrastructural development. Or we review the KPI of these workers, pay those who truly merit to be paid from public purse (and there are indeed those who can justify their pay), and ask the unproductive ones to go. It is a decision we must make. And as I said above, we need to review our public service. The truth is that we have thousands of workers we don’t need. I am not talking about ghost workers please. I am talking about regular workers who had been engaged not on the basis of need. Let’s disengage idle hands and hire people we need. We need more competent teachers. We need far more health workers than we currently have.

I know this is a very unpopular narrative. I don’t expect the multitude to understand or even accept the suggestions. However, that we are not ready to have this conversation explains why we remain so stagnant as a people. Let’s continue to kick the can down the road or come to grasp with the reality now. We’ll be alright ‘las las’.

Ibraheem Abdullateef  Tweets @egghead_1995. Mail Ibraheemabdullateef09@gmail.com for reactions.

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