The Federal government’s proposed increase in the allowances of civil servants has continued to generate divergent reactions from members of the public.
Some described it as putting the cart before the horse, while others said it was a step in the right direction as wage incentives are very important in raising the morale of civil servants.
Some also dismissed the promise, describing it as empty, even as they noted that the promise made to police and teachers on salary increment did not see the light of the day, regretting that the latest one for the civil servants will also go the same way.
It could be recalled that the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Mr Chris Ngige announced that the FG would increase the allowances of civil servants with effect from January, 2023.
The increment according to him was aimed at cushioning the effects of high cost of living for workers.
However, the gesture has received a lot of backlash from citizens as some have said that considering the present harsh economic realities, increment in allowances only would be like putting a cup of water in the ocean as it would not make any significant impact on the economic lives of workers.
The hike in the price of fuel has worsened the situation, with the increase in the price of goods and services across the country.
In an interview with the chairman, Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Sunny James, he said the organised labour in the State would go for increment in the basic salaries of workers and not allowances.
He said the basic salary of any worker is the basic for any increment because allowances can be withdrawn at any given time.
According to him, “When you are talking about salary increment, basic salary is always where there should be increment. Allowances are not basic, they can be withdrawn at any time, but the basic salary of any individual is the basis for any increment.
“However, if they (federal government) are looking in that direction only ,we have to meet at NLC, only one State will not take a final decision on that, but for us in Akwa Ibom, we will go for an increment in the basic salaries of workers.”
Similarly, the Chairman, Trade Union Congress, TUC, in the State, Comrade Dominic Abang thanked the federal government for thinking towards that direction but wished that it was salary that was increased rather than allowances, noting that the increment in salary would have effect on pension calculation and a cascading impact on the lives of civil servants.
Abang also expressed fear over the implementation of the promise, saying that it ”is always easy for the government to make a promise especially during election time but when it comes to implementation, it is a different game.”
His words, “Allowance is not as good as salary because it doesn’t have an incremental effect; if it were salary, it would have had impact on pension which would have been better as it will have impact on retirement.
“But, it is better than nothing. I appreciate the federal government for thinking towards this direction when things are very hard. But we would have preferred if that increment is on salary so that we will have a cascading effect in the lives of the workers.
“In terms of minimum wage now, the value is eroded because of high cost in transportation, food, electricity tariff etc. At the end of the month, the worker will be running a deficit.:
Provide enabling environment not allowance – Economic expert, Activists to FG
Meanwhile, a human rights activist in Akwa Ibom, Otuekong Franklyn Isong and a lecturer, Department of Economics, University of Uyo, Prof Emmanuel Onwiduokit in separate interviews said what Nigeria needed is an enabling environment for economic growth and not increment in allowances of civil servants which will worsen the high inflation rate Nigeria is already facing.
Isong, who is the State Director, Center For Human Rights and Accountability Network (CHRAN) Akwa Ibom Council noted that increasing the emolument of civil servants will not really have a positive impact on the economy.