THE recent announcement by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State to replace the usual rice and groundnut oil Christmas gifts to civil servants in the state with 25 per cent increase in their basic salaries has been received with some mixed feelings.
While some of the civil servants who have been short changed in the past because of the lopsidedness in the distribution of the rice welcome the 25 per cent increase wholeheartedly, those who have benefitted immensely in the uneven distribution are not happy with the new Christmas gifts from the governor.
In the past, the Governor’s Office, through the Office of the Chief of Staff will dole out bags of rice and cartons of groundnut oils to each of the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to be distributed among staff for the yuletide season. The quantity given to each ministry, department and agency are usually not enough to go round the staff of the ministry, department agency (MDAs). What financially buoyant MDAs normally does is to buy more bags of rice and cartons of groundnut out for their staffers.
In such financially buoyant MDAs, you see the least paid staffer going home with at least a bag of rice and a tin of groundnut oil while the directors in such MDAs go home with four to five bags of rice and several cartons of groundnut oil.
But with the new method introduced by Governor Ambode, the least paid worker whose basic salary is probably N10,000 will only get a bonus of N2,500 for Christmas. That certainly cannot get him a bag of rice and a tin of groundnut oil.
Even the director whose basic salary is in the region of N100,000 per month (this does not include other allowances which add up to N347,000 that he earns per month) will only get N25,000 as Christmas bonus. That certainly cannot get him four to five bags of rice and the usual two to four cartons of groundnut oil that he usually takes home every year as Christmas gifts.
On the other hand, Ambode’s largesse is a welcome idea to those in the non-financially buoyant MDAs who take home two to six Dericas of rice and no groundnut oil at all as Christmas gift every year irrespective of their rank in the office.
Worst hit in this category are the secondary schools where a bag or two of rice is shared by 60 to 80 members of teaching and non-teaching staff. To staffers of the non-financially buoyant MDAs, the payment of the 25 per cent increase in basic salary is a welcome idea which will put every staff in his place.
According to one of the civil servants who spoke to ENCOMIUM Weekly, under the condition of anonymity, “a situation where an office assistant (euphemism for messenger) will be going home with a bag of rice and a tin of groundnut oil as Christmas gift and a level 16 officer (deputy director) will be given six Dericas of rice and no groundnut oil at all does not augur well for the service.”
The civil servant who is on level 15 (Assistant Director) said though in the past he used to get a bag of rice and a tin of groundnut oil, he is still happy that the N12,000 that’s 25 per cent of his basic salary will give him can still buy him a bag of rice and a tin of groundnut oil.