Governor Nasir El-Rufai has explained why government decided that civil servants and political appointees who are among persons fortunate to earn incomes during this lockdown should make a contribution to the cost of buying palliatives for vulnerable citizens of Kaduna State who cannot eke out a living due to the lockdown.
The governor made the clarification while fielding questions from some broadcast journalists in a live media chat on Tuesday night.
He said Kaduna State has no problem with paying salaries, and is proud of its record in being the first state to pay the new minimum wage and a new minimum pension.
Explaining the rationale for the deductions, Mr El-Rufai said it was an action taken across the board to ensure that public servants make some sacrifice for the welfare of other citizens.
He disclosed that 95 percent of the statutory allocation of March was spent on payment of salaries to public servants.
Mr El-Rufai stated that while the government cares for and demonstrates the utmost concern for public servants, it cannot be considered fair that most of public resources in an emergency period go to a cherished but minority segment of the residents of the state.
‘’If you combine all the civil servants in Kaduna state, including workers in the 23 local governments and all political appointees, we are not up to 100,000. But there are about 10 million people in the state,’’ he said.
According to the governor, there are up to one million people in the state who go out daily to look for what will sustain them on that day but who cannot go out to eke out a living due to the lockdown.
‘’So, we decided that we that have an income, should sacrifice for this category of people, to enable government to get funds to buy palliatives for them,’’ he argued.
Mr El-Rufai said that government decided that Kaduna State Executive members, which include commissioners and Special Advisers, should donate N500,000 each to the Palliative Fund this month.
‘’Henceforth, we will donate half of our salaries until when life returns to near normal,” the governor further explained.
According to him, it is only civil servants who earn N67,000 and above that will donate one-quarter of their salaries to fund the palliatives. This is to ensure that no public servant has less than N50,000 to manage monthly.
Mr El-Rufai argued that ‘’society is nothing if there is no sense of solidarity, I believe those who have, no matter how little, have a duty to care for others.’’
‘’Our religions teach us to uphold a duty of care towards others, to want for others that which we want for ourselves. If you are lucky to have an income, you should make a contribution to ensure that others can survive and thrive in the dangerous circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic,’’ he said.
The governor conceded that people do not like to part with money, but he argued that such behaviour is for normal times. He stated that these are not normal times and all must adapt their behaviour accordingly.
‘’We are not in normal times and we must adjust our thinking and behaviour accordingly. COVID-19 has affected everything, but it has not affected our commitment to pay salaries,’’ he added.
Mr El-Rufai reminded residents that Kaduna State was the first state ‘’to pay the new national minimum wage and consequential adjustments because we had already worked on a new minimum wage for Kaduna State before the Federal Government started the process.’’
The governor also pointed out that the state has ‘’ also increased the minimum monthly pension for retirees on defined benefits to N30,000. We have done all these because we care.’’
‘’I appeal to everyone to show maturity on this matter,” he said