Amidst the state governors’ fears that the implementation of the N30,000 national minimum wage will cripple the economy, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to take urgent steps to address the lingering issue by immediately forwarding an executive bill to the National Assembly to legalise the recommendation of the tripartite Committee.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, the NLC president, said Nigerian workers were running out of patience with the government over the delay and are getting more and more agitated.
It would be recalled that while the debate over the minimum was on, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) has insisted that the states could only afford to pay N22,500 as minimum wage.
The governors, in making their stand known, said the N50,000 being proposed before the Federal Government resolved on N30,000 was not realistic.
For instance, Governor Abubarkar Sani Bello of Niger State said the payment of N30, 000 new minimum wage will indeed cripple Nigeria’s economy.
He maintained that with the increase in workers’ wages, inflation would increase, thereby affecting the economy and subsequently the standard of living of the workers. Bello said: “Mark this day, I tell you the truth, the moment members of the public get to know that workers’ salaries have been increased, even the ‘Keke’ man who is carrying your speaker will increase his price”.
Since the decision was taken on the N30,000, the Federal Government and the state governments are yet to pay, an indication that the issue is still hanging, even as the workers continue to grumble.
Will the payment of the N30,000 minimum wage ground the economy, as the governors fear?
Remuneration Policy Needs To Be Reviewed – Lawyer
Barrister Kunle Adewale, an Osogbo-based lawyer, faulted the claim. He asked: “How much money is involved to effect the new wage when trillion of naira are in the pocket of few politicians?
According him, “Some of the politicians are even richer than their respective states. It is a wrong claim that payment of N30,000 will cripple the country’s economy.
“What is actually affecting us in the country is that our remuneration policy needs to be reviewed and restructured to justify the money collected by civil servants. There are too many civil servants in the system. Many of them were recruited because of their roles during political campaigns and for political considerations.” Adewale suggested that workers remuneration should be based on hour basis or per day.
‘Nigeria Needs Law On Automatic Increase Of Minimum Wage’
Wilson Gbemudu Ikpongban, another legal practitioner, said: “The issue of minimum wage will never end in Nigeria until such a time when there will be a law backing automatic minimum wage implementation at the federal and state levels periodically without further negotiation.
“What I mean by that is there should be an Act whereby workers should have automatic salary review by percentage every five or seven years, depending on what the Act says. That law should emphasise the need for the minimum wage earners to automatically move to another level after five or seven years in a particular level.
“Now to answer your question, I will say N30,000 minimum wage will not in way cripple the nation’s economy because the percentage of government or company workers in Nigeria is very minimal to affect the country’s economy.
“This is because, of the Nigeria’s 180 million population, only about 40 millions are salary earners, while about 60 millions are self employed, with other working age jobless. The state governments have no reason to say they cannot pay N30,000 minimum wage.”
Abiara Backs N30,000 minimum wage
Prophet Samuel Abiara has admonished the Federal Government to yield to the minimum wage demand by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC)
Abiara, former General Evangelist of the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) admonished the government to yield to the NLC demand in his New Year message.
He commended the NLC for its resilience and called on the Federal Government to pay the N30,000 minimum wage demand and prevent a strike that could damage the economy.
He said: “I advise the Federal Government to pay the minimum wage the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) demanded. The government must do something reasonable about workers’ salaries. They should not allow them to go on strike because it will cripple the economy.
“Nigerian workers are demanding $87, which is N30,000 only. What they are asking for is not too much because the prices of things have gone up, especially food items. The wealthy and the poor buy things from the same markets.”
N30,000 Is Nothing To Write Home About – ANAN Chief
Dr. Sam Nzekwe, former President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), stated: “If you consider the current economic situation of Nigeria – looking at the current inflation rate – you will realise that N30,000 is actually nothing to write home about.
“Many workers move across long distances to get to work; they pay house rent and shoulder other expenses. How is it possible to manage these things with N30,000? That is the problem. The naira has been losing its value steadily over the years.
“The other issue is whether the government has capacity to pay. I will say that the state governments are currently having problems paying the N18,000 minimum wage. Some of them owe salaries for a year. So, I will say the problem is mainly with the states because I know that the Federal Government can pay.
“However, if people in governance in Nigeria are managing the economy the way it should be managed, they can pay N30,000 minimum wage.
“Unfortunately, our country’s money is going into the pockets of a few individuals. You must have heard that members of the National Assembly pocket about N13million as official entitlement monthly. The cost of governance in Nigeria is too high and that is the problem.
“The case I just mentioned is the one we all know. There are many others we don’t. So, it is not that they can’t pay, but the money is going to very few individuals instead of being used for the larger population.
“The Nigeria Labour Congress has threatened to go on strike and one would agree that they have good reasons. But, we will plead with them to consider the planned action because it is going to hit everybody, especially the common man in Nigeria. So, I would have requested that they take it slowly because the strike will not affect these senior government officials the way it will affect the common man.”
Mr. Olumoh Kolawole, Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Kwara State, Stated: “With sincerity of purpose on the side of the government, it is very feasible. If you look at the trend of things in government now, how many of our leaders are sincere with the kind of expenditure they are making?
“In fact, the agitation is that the government should see every reason to cancel security votes for governors and other public officers who currently receive such. What are they securing? When there are crises the Federal Government comes to their aid, the National Emergency Management Agency comes to their aid and several agencies come to their aid.
“So, what money are they spending? The money which is being disbursed as security votes at the end of the month is being shared by the governors and the security apparatus, so what are they talking about?
“In addition, expenses by the part of all tiers of government is high. They are not looking at it that Nigeria is not buoyant now. Let us curtail our expenses. They just believe the money is there and they can spend. There are so much expenses on their part that many of them take chartered flight. Can you imagine the amount of money spent on chartered flights just from Abuja to Lagos from public funds? Go to the western world, their presidents and other leaders use economy class when they fly. What stops our leaders from adopting that considering the current economic challenges we are in?
“The N30,000 proposed minimum wage, is it enough for the Nigerian worker? But, we are looking at the current bad economic situation; that was why we came down from the amount we initially proposed and our labour leaders decided to look at what is feasible for now.
“What is the increase of that N30,000 to the current N18,000 minimum wage? It has not doubled; it is just about 78 per cent increase. So, is it not good for us to have such an increase after many years that we started the N18,000 minimum wage?”