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Understanding El-Rufa’i: Retrenchment as form of reform

In his quest to making Kaduna Great Again, 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 Primary school teachers (amounting to 21,780) and Local governments’ staffs.

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It is said that in some secretariat, the staff have been reduced from 600 to 200; that is about 60% reduction. Whereas, there will be recruitment of new primary school teachers and the sacked teachers can also be re-employ, I have not heard any similar information with regards to that of local government; and may be, there will not be any recruitment of local governments’ staffs?

But what is the reason behind all these?

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The official explanation and mostly held reason is, it is a bid to standardise the educational system and revive the decadent local governments of the State. Even those criticising the action agree that the government intention is geared toward progress but a wrong approach. Hence, most of them call on the government to “re-train the teachers.”

This shows that they have failed to understand the underlying motive and force behind the retrenchment, which is essentially the framework of the administration; its character, thus, have failed to understand the ‘new political economy’ El-Rufa’i has envisaged and the course he is sailing to. The question of “re-training” will not be adopted by El-rufa’i because it is not in line with the framework, though he may not say it, he will rather easily debunk it by pointing to the lots of past workshops the sacked teachers had gone which obviously is to no avail and it is time and money (resource) consuming, and the State will rather avoid that; this indicate the character of the State, reducing expenditure.

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 envisage by the State. Fiscal austerity simply refers to reducing government expenditure. The assumption is, the more money the 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 enable 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 Kaduna State government is essentially pro-private investors (foreign, most in particular). These retrenchments will create a pool of desperate unemployed labour force, thereby making employment terms to be to the merit of the employer; wage-cut most in particular. This will make private investment to make more profit and prosper in the State. For El-Rufa’i has always being of the view that there cannot be development while most Nigerians work in the government sector.

The State domestic debt amount to approximately N63 billion and foreign debt $223.8 million as at 2016. The State is almost entirely run on debt; mostly source from World Bank. The Olam Sanyo poultry farm will not have been accomplished without World Bank loan. 

Therefore, in-debtedness and external influence can only be said to have supported, fuel 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; widens the gap between the rich and poor, make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Ibrahim Lawal Ahmed, Kaduna

 


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