How Fashola dealt with us for eight years, by civil servants
Dissatisfied by the attitude of the Babatunde Fashola-led administration toward their plight, civil servants in Lagos have demanded a change from the new administration led by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
Specifically, they want a review of existing training policy, outdated civil service regulations, alleged cuts in welfare benefits and discrimination against workers in some parastatals and agencies.
Meanwhile, the governor has promised to give the 128,000 workers their dues without discrimination, even as he insisted on 8am resumption hour for all. Ambode, who addressed a cross-section of the workers on Tuesday, said he had resolved to reward hard work and help them all to prepare for a worthwhile life at retirement.
It would be recalled that staff welfare and connected issues were some of the talking points in the build up to the general elections. Several of the workers that attended the “family meetings” at the behest of Fashola, were often quick to say that the governor was unfair to them for eight years.
Their complaint got to a the point of threatening to vote against the ruling party, but Fashola assuaged their grievances through convincing arguments of prompt payment of salaries and allowances that the state has provided, bus service scheme, meal subsidy at the canteen, staff housing loan among other benefits.
But the coming of Ambode, a former civil servant as the new governor of the state, may have rekindled hopes of getting their great expectations from the system that they serve.
A Level 15 officer, who identified self as Gbenga, said the new administration should immediately look into the overseas training to restore confidence in the Lagos civil service.
Gbenga told The Guardian that the regular overseas training trips for directors once enjoyed under Bola Tinubu administration (1999-2007), were substituted by Fashola’s insistent that they should be trained at the Public Service Staff Development Centre (PSSDC) in Magodo, Ketu.
“I can tell you that never has any administration look down on civil servants with arrogance like Fashola did. Yet he would come saying all the credit should go to civil servants. The same civil servants that he never listened to, give fair hearing and belittled,” he said.
Available records at the State Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pension indicated that a total of 4,254 workers were trained in the last four years, out of which 15 went on overseas training.
To this, Gbenga said: “You don’t know to what extent those trainings, especially going to the United Kingdom or America positively impart on the psyche of workers.
For me, that is what Ambode must look into to gain our support. Though he has made some promises in this regard, I believe he will deliver. We need to measure up with our counterparts in other places.”
Suleiman Hassan of the Ministry of Science and Technology also noted that capacity building was sectional, because several of the professional ministries were denied of such exposure.
Hassan was, however, reassured by the antecedents of Ambode to correct the imbalance. According to him, we know him (Ambode) since his days as Permanent Secretary (PS) and he is a man of his words.
We want to be able to do our jobs ourselves and not be subservient to consultants often brought to superintend over us. Yomi Olubayo, from procurement session, Ministry of Education, recalled that he attended one of such “family meetings” with Fashola on April 8, with a determination to vote for the opposition party as a mark of dissatisfaction with the last administration.
Olubayo said: “Some years back, we were on the same level with our Federal counterparts. Along the line, we could not even measure our take home pay. That is how bad the last administration dealt with us.
Continuing, he said: “We want a return to olden days when we were at par with our counterparts both in federal and private sector. Jakande Administration did everything, putting the Civil Servants first.
It was not like now where government will even build markets and give them to those that have nothing to sell. We want a change in that kind of arrangement.
The best way to appreciate the votes that we cast for Ambode is for him to revert all these trends.” Amina Hamzat of the Office of State Auditor General added that there was a serious need to review the processes and procedure operational in the service, besides improved remuneration.
“It is not about salary but also motivations. We need to improve on guiding laws not going back to 1985 laws, bureaucratic procedure to get our entitlements.
We also need to review models of identifying the hard workers and self motivated workers,” Hamzat said. Ambode commended the workers for speaking frankly, describing the courage as one of the values he would treasure in moving the public service forward.
He hinted that his dream for the Public Service is for everyone to have a befitting life in the post service years. Hence, the need to create better opportunities for all committed workers. Giving his assurances, the governor said: “We will harmonise the public service where everyone will work to their optimum.
Where people in parastatal and ministry will be at par. That is where the future of civil service is going. “We have some of these issues during the campaign.
I will meet with the joint negotiating council and we will put everything on the table. The mission is a better civil service that is ready to address welfare, with major emphasis on capacity building and training,” he said.