By Pamela Eboh
Anambra State Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo on Tuesday increased salaries of the state civil servants by ten percent and an aditional fifteen thousand Naira as Christmas bonus.
Prof. Soludo made the declaration at the celebration of the 2022 Public Service Day held at the state Secretariat Complex Awka, saying that the Christmas bonus would be credited today (Tuesday).
Speaking at the event, the governor expressed empathy for income earners, especially in the light of the dwindling economic situation in the Country.
He decried the current economic hardship in the country, saying, “Given my own background as a worker, what we are not able to do for the working class, you must understand it is literally impossible,
“On the issue of Christmas rice, we reviewed how it’s done in the past and discovered that it is no longer tenable.
“I understand in previous years that past governments gave 25kg bag of rice to civil servants for Christmas.
“The state of Nigeria is bad. Everybody is complaining. Prices are rising very fast, I look at you and wonder how you cope.
“Today, 50kg bag of rice costs over forty thousand naira (₦40,000). That’s beyond the salary of a graduate in the public service. Something is not right!
“What we will do instead, between today and tomorrow, we will first of all make sure that our pensioners are taken care of, to demonstrate good faith. I wish we could do much more but today, you will receive an alert of fifteen thousand naira (₦15,000) as Christmas bonus.”
According to the governor, the income of the state is not increasing, as well as government revenue.
He added, “We cannot print money. I understand what you feel and wish that our revenue will go up so we can multiply what comes to you in proportion to Nigeria’s inflation.
“The Head of Service made a request for releasing funds to process promotion. We have made the budget for next year and it has been signed. Any new thing not in the budget can’t be done.
“I received a report a few days ago recommending minor adjustments in salaries. We will review it and see if it is feasible”, Soludo stated.
“From February to date, NNPC has not remitted a dime to the federation account and our state of finances means we can’t do everything at the same time but, we have to prioritize and that’s why we are collecting taxes.”
The Governor regretted that next year, Lagos State is expecting to collect hundred billion naira a month from IGR while Anambra is still aiming at 3 billion naira.
He however assured ndi Anambra that any money coming into the government coffers will be utilized judiciously.
Soludo reminded the state work force that he came to them during last year’s public service day to plead for their votes noting that Today, he appeared before them as the Governor of the state.
He added, “You employed me as your Chief servant and I am your employee. I thank you for your services to Anambra. I am the Chief Public Servant and without you, there will be no public service.”
“We promised to create a liveable and prosperous homeland. This is our mission and you all shall deliver it. We delivered this message through the head of service.
“We are not supposed to be celebrating public service at this time of the year but I insisted, to thank you all for the year 2022 before we cross over into 2023”, Governor Soludo said.
“Our five fingers of Government includes; Security, law and order; Economic transformation, social agenda, reforming ways government works and the environment.
“Eight local governments were taken over by criminals when we came into power and we have taken over our land from criminals. We have driven them away from our bushes and forests.
“Someone in Finland declared 5 days sit at home but in Anambra, the sit at home was not observed.
“We will get back to work full scale, working 5 days in a week. When we work four days and our children go to school only four days, we won’t deliver the same thing as those who work for five days.
“We must take back our state otherwise, we are losing 20% each week. Security, law and order must come back fully into Anambra. Kidnappers and criminals must give way in our state.
“100% of those we have caught are Igbos but it must come to an end”, Soludo said,
While saying that Civil servants contribute to what is making Anambra to be what it is, Soludo hailed all the ministries and staff mrmbers of Anambra State Public Service.
He also congratulated thirty three selected awardees specially recognized for their hard .
“I also commend the commissioners, Managing Directors and Heads of Parastatals.
He further announced the launching of a regenerative agriculture, saying that efforts are being made to get major industrial parks to work with the signing of MOU with EEDC to ensure that there is 24 hours provision of power, especially in the three major cities of the state.
According to him, “Streetlights are coming back. It’s not possible to keep powering them with diesel now that a litre is over eight hundred naira (N800). We are replacing them with solar because it is more sustainable and strategic.
“On the road, we declared a state of emergency because Anambra has a road crisis. We have awarded over 250 km of roads.
“Within the next 24 months we must deliver and it will be unprecedented in the state. We have just been in the office for 9 months but things are happening.
“On our social agenda, we are ending the era of hospitals without doctors, nurses and consultants. We have recruited over 200 personnel in our general Hospitals.
“We handed appointment letters to five thousand (5000) teachers within 9 months of our regime. The process was one hundred percent (100%) merit based, transparent and we are looking for the best no matter where they come from. Our interest is that the child should be taught by the best teacher available and this is what we have set out to do.
“Teaching is a vocation and calling, it is not just a job! What we have done is unique in Anambra Teaching Service”, said Governor Soludo.
“We celebrate our public servants most especially our teachers because everyone was taught by a teacher..
“Five thousand (5000) youths are currently undergoing various training- one youth two skills programme and by next year, we will be dishing out several billions to empower them.
On security, Soludo said, “We have recruited vigilantes and empowered other security apparatus to keep Anambra safe.
“We have a slogan, “cut all cutables and boycott all boycottables.” That is the way we are managing resources and that’s how we are paying the bills.
“When we came in, pensioners hadn’t received their gratuities since 2018 but we felt that it’s not the way to go. To watch the retirees work for over 30 years without gratuities, we felt it was painful.
“Under my watch, everyone that retired in the Anambra public service has been paid their gratuities. For those who retired since 2018, we are doing the payments gradually to restore hope to them.”
Earlier in her opening speech, the Head of Service, Barrister Theodora Igwegbe, said, “We recognize, reward hardwork and excellence of colleagues who have distinguished themselves in the discharge of their duties.
“We rededicate our service to discipline and service delivery to our people,” she stated.
“It is an annual event slated for 23rd of June every year but every state is entitled to fix their own date. Public service is bound on public trust”
“The Federal Government of Nigeria developed a framework to institutionalize public service. In the development of civil service, I came up with a development plan and a blue print designed and approved by the Anambra ANSEC on 8th of August 2022.
“They are aligned to the vision of Governor soludo’s administration. The systematic core areas are underlisted as follows: Capacity building, performance management, service delivery, anti-corruption, value proposition and digitization”, she pointed out.
“On Staff welfare, enumeration and reward, states should review staff salaries, promotions and reward system. It will make the service attractive to pools of talents and make workers motivated to give their best at all times.
“A proposal of the full minimum wage have been submitted and we await due approval.
“Mr Governor has graciously paid leave allowance for 2022 and December salaries.”
She reeled out declining efficiency, productivity, low morale of workers as some of the challenges of civil servants.
Igwegbe appealed to the Governor to give a full implementation and consideration of the national minimum wage in the state, as well as an upward review of salaries to mitigate economic challenges of the country
She also solicited the approval of funds for civil service commission to conduct 2023 promotion interviews and provision of official cars for permanent secretaries and directors as done in the past, provision of work tools, computers and procurement of buses to ease transportation challenges of civil servants.
“We also plead for appointment of permanent secretaries as present ones are in charge of two ministries which is presently affecting productivity, Billboards for Jerome Udoji Secretariat Complex Awka, desilting of drainages in the complex, office furniture procurement for use in the offices, repainting of buildings and fence of the Secretariat Complex.
“We promise and pledge our full dedication and commitment to you and your Government. We vow to work assiduously, to ensure that your vision for the state is judiciously implemented,” she assured”, she added.
The theme for the this years was; “Performance Management System: Impact on the Nigerian Public Service.
High point of the event was the presentation of certificate of recognition to thirty-three officers, drawn from various ministries for their exemplary services and dedication.