13 Oct

The week ahead – A different kind of ambush

Oil minister Ibe Kachikwu and NNPC Group Managing Director, Maikanti Baru, met on 10 October for the first since their disagreement broke out and agreed on one thing – a petroleum industry regulator free from the vagaries of politics. The two industry leaders met at a breakout session at the ongoing 23rd Nigerian Economic Summit and spoke on the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill. The NNPC had said that allegations by Kachikwu that Baru’s conduct lacked transparency were baseless, as a public rift between the firm and the ministry widened. The tension between the oil ministry and NNPC came into the public eye when a letter of complaint to the president from Kachikwu leaked to the public.

The FG says it will soon centralise the payroll for MDAs just as it is capturing data for personnel of paramilitary outfits on the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System. According to finance minister Kemi Adeosun, who monitored the addition of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Nigerian Immigration Service and the Nigeria Prisons Service to the IPPIS on 5 October in Abuja, the centralisation is being driven by the Office of the Account General of the Federation through the IPPIS secretariat. There are currently 461 MDAs on IPPIS platform responsible for processing and paying salaries to over 300,000 federal employees.

Three aviation unions on Tuesday gave the federal government a 15-day ultimatum to halt its planned concession of the four biggest airports in the country. The unions – the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, the National Union of Air Transport Employees and its ally, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners – gave the ultimatum at a joint news briefing in Lagos. NUATE’s General Secretary, Olayinka Abioye said the ultimatum was the unions’ last resolve to force the aviation minister, Hadi Sirika to fully involve them in the concession process. “At the expiration of the 15 days ultimatum, we are going to shut down the industry. We want the minister to talk to us and share ideas with us on what they want to concession and how it will affect our members,” Abioye said. The government plans to concession the Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt airports as part of efforts to enable them meet international aviation standards.

Kaduna governor, Nasir El-Rufai said about 21,780 out of 33,000 teachers failed the primary four competence test administered by the state government. El-Rufai told a World Bank delegation on 9 October that, ”we tested our 33,000 primary school teachers, we gave them primary four examination (questions) and required they must get at least 75 percent, but I am sad to announce that 66 per cent of them failed to get the requirements. He described the state’s hiring practices for teachers as “politicised” and said teachers would be redeployed across the state to balance the state’s lopsided teacher-pupil ratio.

Suggestions

  • We had counselled earlier that the impasse concerning the NNPC’s activities was best seen from a political lens and this week’s events have borne us out. Kachikwu and Baru may have played for the cameras and microphones trained on them at the NES, but the oil firm’s certified role as the clearing house of the financial ambitions of Nigeria’s politicians, coupled with its famed lack of transparency, means that needed reform in the country’s oil and gas sector will remain stymied. The brain drain in the industry looks set to continue and the foreign investment needed to revive a flagging economy will remain parked outside the door.
  • The IPIS system was designed to tackle one of the big issues in personnel management in public service – the recurring incidents of Ghost Workers being paid. This is the way to go. As IPIS continues to cover more of the federal public service, and coupled with the identity management supplied by BVN, we believe it will impact this issue.
  • Threats like those from the aviation workers are not new in Nigerian industrial relations when talk of privatisation come up. It occurred with the power sector reforms and it is a recurrent decimal anytime such an attempt is made on the refineries. We believe the minister can borrow a leaf from the power sector reforms and involve the parties as part of the process. We also urge the unions to exercise good judgement in their demands and negotiation. The ultimate aim is for improvement of the airports and this should be what guides all engagements.
  • The discovery by the Kaduna State Government is sadly not a surprise, but a common occurrence across the country. Over the years, it had become habitual for state governments to employ the worst performers into schools to impart knowledge on the younger generation. Recall that a few years ago in Edo state, Governor Adams Oshiomole interrogated a teacher who could not read her name on her own certificate. These developments speak to monumental crisis in Nigeria’s education. The NLC’s response to attack the governor of Kaduna state is sadly, not unexpected, and is very short-sighted. Hard as his decision may seem to observers, on this, Nasir El-Rufai is in the right. Unless thorough reforms are instituted, starting with letting go of all unqualified teachers, Nigeria may never have a chance at development.