The Federal Government Thursday allayed the fears of Nigerian workers over the recommendation by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Lamido Sanusi, that the government should trim its workforce by 50 per cent, saying it was desirous of creating more jobs for Nigerians.
But the CBN governor has denied the statement attributed to him on the 50 per cent reduction of the public sector, stating that he was quoted out of context.
This is just as the House of Representatives waded into the controversy generated by Sanusi's statement, saying that the CBN governor was not in a position to teach other arms and agencies of government lessons in prudence and transparency, terming the central bank as one of the most wasteful institutions in the country.
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, who made government's position known at the 8th National Labour Relations Summit and Fellowship Award held at the Michael Imodu National Labour Studies (MINILS) Ilorin, Kwara State, assured the workers that "no worker will be sacked".
He said government had set up a Job Creation Committee that would commence work in the next two weeks, noting that the committee would focus mainly on how to create more jobs in all the sectors of the economy.
He emphasised that employment creation was central to the transformation agenda of the present administration, adding that more plans on job creation would be revealed in the next couple of weeks.
This, he added, would go a long way in accelerating the socio-economic growth of the economy.
However, the central bank governor has refuted newspaper reports that he called for the sack of 50 per cent of civil servants in order to reduce the government's recurrent expenditure, much of which is used for the payment of salaries and entitlements of public sector workers.
Speaking yesterday when the House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Currency visited the CBN in the course of its oversight functions, the central bank's Deputy Governor, Operations, Mr. Tunde Lemo, alongside the Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, Alhaji Suleiman Barau, said Sanusi had been quoted out of context.
He said Sanusi's comments were purely hinged on macroeconomic issues, stressing that the central bank has always initiated several monetary interventions in the agriculture and aviation sectors, which were geared towards job creation as well as support for the masses.
Sanusi's statement, however, attracted harsh reactions from the House of Representatives yesterday, as the lower legislative chamber declared that the CBN governor was not in a position to teach other arms and agencies of government lessons in prudence and transparency.
The diatribe coincided with the concern expressed by the lawmakers over the fate of the 2012 Appropriation Act as a result of delays in the release of the fourth quarter capital votes to the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government.
The House claimed that one month after the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had announced the release of N300 billion for the fourth quarter, the releases were yet to be cash-backed one month to the end of the fiscal year.
Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Victor Ogene, who addressed the issues at the weekly media chat, said Sanusi had over time exhibited "a holier-than-thou-attitude" and usually preached what he has not been able to practise in his own domain.
Ogene accused Sanusi of always veering off his job at the central bank to make utterances that unleashed political turbulence.
"I don't know if he is a political economist but I will rather say that he is an economist with a bias for political turbulence. If you recall, from Islamic Banking to the N5,000 bank note and similar claims of profligacy in government, he has never been able to push through any of these tsunamis that he unleashes on the polity from time to time.
"The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has appropriately responded to him on the recommendation for a reduction by 50 per cent of the workforce. But for us here, I would rather say physician heal thyself.
"As at yesterday, November 28, 2012, when I checked the staff strength of the Central Bank of Nigeria, it stood at 6,015 employees.
"When Governor Lamido Sanusi came on board in June 2009, the staff strength of the CBN was 5,022 people. So if we are talking about reducing the cost of governance, within three years he has employed about 1,000 people instead of prunning down.
"I don't want to accuse him of nepotism but I also read the story in theVanguard of November 20 where they highlighted the acrimony that has attended appointments and promotions in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
"With over 20 directors, I wonder why he should be the one advising other agencies and arms of government to prune down," he said.
Ogene also accused the CBN governor of insincerity on the issue of transparency in the budget of the government agencies.
He said that while the National Assembly had a budget of N150 billion in 2012, the budget of the CBN has remained a secret, amidst speculations that the central bank has expended over N300 billion in the same fiscal year.
He challenged the CBN boss to demonstrate the accountability and transparency, which he professes by opening the bank to legislative oversight rather than hiding under the autonomy clause enshrined in the CBN Act to evade scrutiny of its operations.
On the issue of delays in the fourth quarter capital allocations, Ogene said the situation might lead to the non-implementation of the capital projects scheduled to be executed in the last lap of the budget year.
Meanwhile, the House has adjourned plenary sittings for another week of recess. Deputy Speaker of the House who announced the break said it was designed to enable all the committees conclude their interface with the various MDAs on the 2013 Appropriation Bill.
The House will resume plenary on Tuesday December 11, 2012.