In his quest to making Kaduna Great Again, Governor Nasir El-Rufa’i had made, is making and will be making a lot of controversial policies. The recent and so far the most controversial, is the retrenchment of 21,780 primary school teachers and some local governments’ workers.
In some secretariat, the staff have been reduced from 600 to 200 or 60% reduction. Whereas, there will be recruitment of new primary school teachers and the sacked teachers can be re-employed, I have not heard any similar information with regards to that of local governments.
The official explanation and mostly held reason is, it is a bid to standardise the education system and revive the decadent local governments of the state. Even those criticising the action agree that the government intention is geared towards progress but a wrong approach. Hence, most of them call on the government to “re-train the teachers.”
The thing is, the underlying force behind this action and many in the past is “fiscal discipline or austerity” embraced by the administration which is part of the neo-liberal reform envisaged by the state. Fiscal austerity refers to reducing government expenditure. The assumption is, the more money government spends, the more money it takes out of the economy through taxes and interest rates in order to check inflation. This undermines private investment, economic activity therefore declines. The solution is simple, by reducing spending, government enables interest-rate cuts. By capping pay raises and slashing budgets, they reduce inflation. Private investment becomes cheaper and the environment for business more attractive; economic activity rises.
Fiscal austerity demands and necessitates retrenchment in public services; it will lead to wage drop which will encourage private investors to hire more workers (exploit wage-labour). Hence, it reduces channels to resource accumulation in the public sector.
The state domestic debt is N63bn and foreign debt $223.8m as at 2016. The state is almost entirely run on debt; mostly sourced from World Bank. The Olam Sanyo poultry farm will not have been accomplished without World Bank loan. Therefore, indebtedness and external influence have supported, fuelled and energised the capitalist personality of El-Rufa’i in envisaging neo-liberal policies as a path to making Kaduna Great Again.
Thus, it can be deduce that the retrenchment of workers will be the strategy to be adopted in reforming any public service agency. Hence, it can be situated as part of the overall cost (debt) recovery measures and control of payroll system of SAP (Structural Adjustment Programme); neo-liberal policies.
Whether that will make Kaduna Great Again or not, is arguable. But, development or no development, it will lead to inequality; widen the gap between the rich and poor, make the rich richer and the poor poorer.
Ibrahim Lawal Ahmed,