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Last Updated: Friday, 7 July 2006, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Nigeria to cut thousands of jobs
Man and police in front of government building
Nigeria's civil servants have a poor reputation
Some 33,000 Nigerian civil servants are to lose their jobs by the end of this year, a minister has said.

This amounts to about 20% of Nigeria's 160,000 public workers.

The minister in charge of civil service reform, Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, said that those who did not lose their jobs would be given an unspecified pay rise.

He said many of those to be sacked were unfit, guilty of serious misconduct or "ghost workers", inherited from the years of military rule.

Many people had been employed without the proper qualifications after the recruitment of civil servants was decentralised in 1988, Mr Rufai said.

"There was no monitoring mechanism such that ministers just went to their villages and packed everybody [to fill the public service]. That was the problem," he is quoted as saying in ThisDay newspaper.

'House-cleaning exercise'

The measures are intended to improve efficiency in Nigeria's civil service, which has a poor reputation.

Elections are due next year and Mr Rufai said he wanted to hand over a "fairly decent" public service.

Mr Rufai

BBC Nigeria editor Bala Ibrahim says many Nigerians are worried about how the economy will fare with 33,000 people losing their jobs but if the government pays a good severance package, this could make up for the purge.

The government said it has earmarked 50bn naira ($389m) for the "house-cleaning exercise", which would be used not only to pay for redundancies but also increased salaries.

Nigeria's civil service union is not strong and the more militant Nigeria Labour Congress has not threatened any industrial action over the sackings.

Mr Rufai is one of the team brought in by President Olusegun Obasanjo to help turn round Nigeria's economy.

Nigeria is Africa's largest oil exporter but most of its people live in poverty.

In April, Nigeria used its oil revenues to pay off its debts to the Paris Club of creditor governments - the first African country to do so.


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