The Kaduna State government yesterday sacked 4776 district and village heads as well as their staff as it began the implementation of the recommendations of the committee it set up to review the number of such personnel in the state.
According to the government, the essence of the sack is to shore up the finances of local government councils in the state.
Addressing the press in Kaduna yesterday, Commissioner for Local Governments, Alhaji Jafaru Sani said the move was to reduce the burden that a bloated payroll imposed on local councils to enable them undertake capital projects and deliver public goods.
With the implementation of the report, 4766 district and village heads will be dropped as the state government said it would now recognize only the 77 districts and 1,429 villages that existed in the state prior to 2001. The number of districts in the state increased to 390 with the 313 created, while village units increased to 5,882 from.1,429 .
The commissioner said the action was taken in consultation with the state Council of Chiefs which endorsed the restructuring of districts. He said the restructuring did not, however, affect the 32 emirs and chiefs in Kaduna State.
“It is the duty of the state government to pay the salaries and allowances of all the 32 chiefs. And the state government shall continue to be responsible for all our graded chiefs,” he said. Sani said while the state government was comfortably discharging its obligations to the 32 chiefs, the local government councils are not able to do the same for their district heads.
He said by the provision of the Local Government Administration Law (2012), it was the responsibility of the local government councils to cater for the 390 district heads.
He said apart from paying salaries, the state government was providing official vehicles which had now been purchased for distribution to the third-class chiefs and the maintenance of palaces, 10 of which were recently renovated.
“One of the problems this government inherited is the practical insolvency of many local government councils. Some local government councils are unable to pay their bills, especially salaries, without support from the state government.
‘’The bloated wage bills of these councils indicate that they are carrying more than they can bear. That is why for two years, many local government councils were unable to pay their district and village heads.
Due to the governor’s kind intervention, at least 85% of these district and village heads have now been paid two years’ salary en bloc, “ he said. He said prior to the restructuring, “Zazzau Emirate alone has 86 districts but Kano State, with a much larger population, has only 44 districts.
Katsina too has only 33 districts. What accounts for this proliferation in the number of district heads appears to be nothing other than political expediency.’’