By Oziegbe Okoeki
Lagos State Commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions, Mrs Ajibola Ponnle has disclosed that the Lagos State Public Service will be producing the first forensic dentist in the whole of West Africa soon.
This the commissioner said is thr result of the massive investment of the State Government in the human capacity development of its workforce which “is already attracting global attention.
The Commissioner disclosed this during the Year 2020 Ministerial Press Briefing organised as part of activities to commemorate the first year in office of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the JJT Park, Alausa, on Wednesday.
She said the state government decided to foot the bill of sponsoring one of its staff from the Ministry of Health to study a Masters in Legal Medicine and Forensic Dentistry outside the country in order to bridge an identified gap in the State Public Service.
According to her, “Once the staff completes his course of study, he will be the first forensic dentist (new skill and area of specialization) in West Africa and this points to the massive investment in human capital development that the present administration is embarking on”.
Ponnle stated that the Lagos state government is committed to building a 21st century workforce that will deliver the dividends of democracy to Lagosians across every area of human needs by directing its training and capacity development programmes to both generic and technical areas of competency.
She said that one of the notable achievements and innovations to training programmes under the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is the introduction of on-line learning programmes starting with Webinar series which had ensured that the capacity of the entire workforce were developed even during the period of state-wide lockdown order.
The Commissioner disclosed that within the past few months the Webinar initiative started, eleven different series has been held, 10 Generic and 1 job specific for teachers. There was also a Virtual Launch of the pilot of the Lagos State Learning Management System (LMS) with over 10,000 members of staff uploaded, giving access to over 500 training courses.
The pilot Phase of Executive Coaching Program for Executive Council Members was also launched with 30% of cabinet members enrolled . The initiative was in partnership with International Coaching Federation accredited coaches whereby cabinet members are offered one on one coaching sessions to provide support in developing their personal, professional and political aspirations.
The Launch of the Learning Management System and the various Webinar series, Ponnle said, were aimed at achieving a paradigm shift from learning being an event to being a continuous process thereby building a workforce that is equipped with relevant skills, knowledge and competencies to deliver the dividends of democracy to the teeming population of the State.
According to her, the Lagos State Public Service Staff Development Centre (PSSDC) Magodo being the training Centre established specifically for the training of government officials also keyed into the virtual training initiative as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown and suspension of physical training courses.
She stated that in line with the business continuity stance of the Ministry, PSSDC also continued to engage its participants and other stakeholders through the placement of learning slides on its website, adding that the Centre is also in the process of commencing its learning and development activities using alternative means.
The Commissioner also explained that the Lagos State Public Service Staff Development Centre (PSSDC) Magodo in the last one year of this administration received tremendous support for capacity building in the State Public Service. Specifically, as at the end of March, 2020, PSSDC had designed and implemented a total of Forty-four (44) Learning and Development programmes for a total of Two Thousand One hundred and Sixty-four (2,164) staff of the Public Service.
Other initiatives that the present administration is using to boost the morale of its workforce include; organization of In-Plant /TailorMade Workshops/Seminars, sponsorship of officers for Local and Overseas training, approvals for Study Leave among other.
“We trained a total of 4210 staff during the year in in class session, representing a 30% increase over the average number trained in the previous 4 years and over 11,000 participants online. The Ministry also launched the Maiden Edition of SHIFT Talks, an interactive knowledge sharing platform for public servants aimed at harvesting the collective wisdom inherent with the Service, showcasing innovation by staff and networking to break down inter ministerial silos. The
“Knowledge SHIFTer, Mrs. Tope George GL 15, a lawyer from the Ministry of Justice shared nuggets from a book she authored and Innovation SHIFTer and Seun Ogunmolu GL 08 who launched an App he developed were recognized by Mr. Governor for their excellent performance. It should be worthy of note that Mr. Ogunmolu received a double promotion from his grade level as a result of his innovative drive,” the Commissioner added.
Ponnle emphasized that in ensuring a safe, conflict-free and productive workplace by providing strategic and expert advice on industrial relations, the Ministry played an important role in the successful negotiation for the new minimum wage and consequential adjustments for the State work force which commenced in November, 2019, noting that three (3) months arrears, as agreed had already been paid between February and April 2020 despite the work from home order for the majority of the workforce during the period.
According to the Commissioner “the Lagos State Government is the only State Government that is paying more than the Federal recommended Minimum Wage, this shows the magnanimity of Governor Sanwo-Olu in ensuring that the ‘take-home’ of staff truly takes them home”.
In the area of payment of pensions, Ponnle informed that the State Government under the leadership of Mr. Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu consistently distinguished itself as the leading State in the payment of contributory payment scheme, management, implementation, and administration in Nigeria, leading the field in full implementation of an increase in the Employers contribution from 7.5% to 10% and employees contribution from 7.5% to 8%.
In her words “the present administration since inception has continued to show great commitment to the welfare of its workforce, both in and out of office, hence, monthly pension contributions are promptly remitted into employees’ Retirement Savings Account while accrued pension right obligations are also being paid”.
According to the Commissioner, a total number of 4104 retirees had their accrued pension rights of N16,759,441,707.75 credited into their RSA between May 2019 to April 2020. The government also approved the release of N13.75bln to fund the redemption bond account and also increased the additional funding rate of account from 5% to 10% of total annual staff emoluments in order to fully clear the backlog of the arrears caused from the old defined benefit scheme era of pension management by the State.
Ponnle noted that the Lagos State Pension Commission (LASPEC) has commenced the issuance of pensioners ID cards to retirees and has made a proposal for retirees with ID cards to enjoy additional benefits which is currently in progress and will be unveiled in the course of the coming year.
The Commissioner, however, affirmed that the Ministry is committed to continuously developing initiatives that will ensure that the mandate of a 21st Century-compliant workforce is achieved.