Barring any last-minute change of plans, the Federal Government will begin payment of the planned increase in civil servants’ pay by the end of this month (April), The PUNCH can report.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, retd, is expected to give his final assent for disbursement any moment from now.
If the proposal sails through, it means the increase will be coming about two months to the June date proposed for the removal of petrol subsidy.
Officials of the Federal Government told The PUNCH exclusively that the fresh pay increase, tagged consequential allowance, would lead to a 40 per cent rise in the current pay of government workers.
Speaking exclusively with The PUNCH, the Director of Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, revealed that the Federal Government might begin payment of the 40 per cent pay rise by the end of April this year, adding that the three months arrears of January, February and March would be paid at a later date.
Oshundun, however, said he could not confirm if the proposal by the government committee saddled with the task had been finally approved by the President.
He said, “Consequential allowance Salaries will be increased by 40 per cent for civil servants from level 1 to level 17.
“What we receive now is called consolidated public service salary structure, it is the combination of basic and all allowances. So, the increase will be 40 per cent of what a public servant is earning now.
“They will start paying from the end of this month (April) and the arrears of January, February and March will be paid later. The salary increase is effective from January 2023. That is the proposal submitted by the committee set up to look into salary adjustment for civil servants, but am not sure if the President has signed it yet.”
Last month, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige disclosed that the Federal Government had approved a pay raise for civil servants in the country.
He added that the pay rise had been included in the 2023 budget, noting that it would take effect from January 1, 2023.
Ngige described the pay raise as a peculiar allowance for civil servants in view of the current economic reality and it is meant to help government workers to cushion the effects of rising inflation, rising cost of living, hikes in transportation fare, housing and electricity tariffs.
The PUNCH reports that Nigeria’s headline inflation increased to 22.04 per cent year-on-year in March, the highest rate since September 2005.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics data, the latest rise in inflation rate is the third consecutive increase this year, increasing by 0.13 per cent points when compared to the February 2023 headline inflation rate.
The NBS added that the cost of food and beverages contributed significantly to overall inflation.
“The contributions of items on the divisional level to the increase in the headline index are food and non-alcoholic beverages (11.42 per cent); housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuel (3.69 per cent); clothing and footwear (1.69 per cent); transport (1.43 per cent); furnishings, household equipment and maintenance (1.11 per cent); education (0.87 per cent); health (0.66 per cent); miscellaneous goods and services (0.37 per cent); restaurant and hotels (0.27 per cent); alcoholic beverage, tobacco and kola (0.24 per cent); recreation and culture (0.15 per cent) and communication (0.15 per cent),” the NBS report added.
However, leaders of the organised labour on Monday described the proposed pay rise as a meagre allowance that would not be equivalent to a 40 per cent increase in workers’ salaries.
Reacting in a telephone interview, the National Vice President of the Trade Union Congress, Tommy Etim, confirmed the moves by the government to increase “allowances and not salaries” as publicly insinuated.
According to him, the allowance is an increased arising from the peculiar circumstances surrounding the removal of the fuel subsidy and inflation. He, however, stressed that civil servants were yet to receive the payment.
He said, “I am aware of the moves by the government and the payment is to start from January. The new payment is not an increase in workers’ salaries. It is a peculiar allowance and not an increase in salary, so we don’t misinform the public. it is just an increase in basic salary and not across board. Other components are not touched so that the market woman will not think the government has increased salary. It is an allowance because of the peculiar circumstances surrounding the removal of fuel subsidy and inflation. An allowance is not a salary. No civil servant has received so I cannot speak authoritatively until it hits everyone’s bank account.”
Etim, who is also the president of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, further charged the government to consider increment of other allowances such as rent and transportation.
“We would also admire it if other allowances are looked into, especially housing and transport. The present socioeconomic indices don’t favour transportation for civil servants with some spending their whole salary just on transportation, not to talk of rent and other bills. The government should also look at that aspect as it is very important,” he added.
However, the Nigerian Labour Congress denied knowledge of the proposed increment noting that “We are only hearing it as rumours.”
The National Treasurer, NLC, Hakeem Ambali, said the union had yet to be involved in any form of discussion concerning the issue.
He said, “For us, we are only hear it as rumours because there are procedures for negotiating fringe benefits and workers’ entitlement which is through collective bargaining. It is a tripartite thing that would have to be negotiated. But with what we are seeing, it still looks like a rumour, we are still waiting that the Federal Government will invite the necessary arm of labour where negotiation will be done and we would agree.
“Any increment not based on available and empirical data would not be agreeable to labour. We must sit down to look at the inflationary and economic trends to arrive at a logical conclusion. So the first step is to go back to the negotiating table.”
When asked about the union’s next action if the government went ahead with the proposed plan, he simply said, “We would continue in our push, even in our acceptance speech we made it clear that labour will negotiate with the Federal Government on minimum wage increment, so any allowance that doesn’t take cognisance of the economic reality of the day is not acceptable to labour.”