By Oji Odu
The high hopes of the Nigerian worker which was recently raised by the Federal Government that he will soon smile by the increase in the minimum wage has been dashed. He is so confused about his fate as government stated that it cannot pay more than N25,000 per month as the new minimum wage, an increase of seven thousand naira from the current N18,000.
The N25,000 stance by Federal Government also shocked other members of the Tripartite Committee on minimum wage as their meeting ran into a stalemate. The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Organised Private Sector (OPS) had already agreed on a N30,000 minimum wage per month.
The Magazine learnt that trouble started when the tripartite committee resumed sitting last Thursday and the Federal Government shocked other social partners with its presentation of N21,700 as the new minimum wage.
However, disappointed with the Federal Government’s figure and sensing its unwillingness to increase the wages of workers in the midst of crushing economic hardship, both the NLC and OPS reached an accord, increasing earlier figure of N25,000 to N40,000.
The Organised Labour had recently embarked on an industrial action over the Federal Government’s failure to present its figure at previous meeting. The suspension of the strike was sequel to government’s reconvening of the committee for last Thursday, October 4 and Friday October 5, respectively.
Why can’t government pay the proposed N30,000 monthly minimum wage? Why should both the NLC and OPS rather increase their figure to N40,000 from their earlier N30,000. If finally approved, will it be implemented,when will the implementation be?
At N30,000 at an average of 30 day monthly, it means that the Nigerian worker will have a paltry one thousand naira to survive-pay house rent, electricity bill of not less than seven thousand naira every month due to the crazy billing, pay school fees, feed his family of about five, cater for his extended family, pay neighbourhood security fee of N500 monthly, transport himself to and fro work daily et cetera.
However, at governments N25,000 monthly minimum wage, the same worker has about N834 daily to try and settle these costs. In the words of Peter Adetunde, a Civil Servant, “ this minimum wage is the same as maximum trouble. Whether N18,000, N25,000, N30,000 or N40,000, it is still serious wahala for the Nigerian worker based on the strangling economic situation. The truth still remains that the Nigerian workers worst day is his pay day.”
Adams Oshiomhole, former Edo State Governor and the All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman, believes that the salary upward review is in order, regretting why some states cannot pay the N18,000. “As governor of Edo, I increased the minimum wage from N18,000 to N25,000 a month for the least paid worker”, and I did that to dismiss and to close the debate whether a higher minimum wage is desirable.
“Rather than going to be giving a lecture on why a higher minimum wage is inevitable, I thought it is better to use my executive power to increase the minimum wage and to pay it.
“Not only did I pay it for as long as I was governor, my successor has continued to pay it.
“And Edo has continued to deliver on infrastructure and on its mandate to the admiration of its residents,’’ the former governor said.
In a chat with Christopher Akpan, a labour expert, while expressing regrets why a strike action must be embarked by organised labour before government could dialogue with them for new minimum wage, he fears that a greater strike may have to be embarked by labour to make government and other employers pay the new minimum wage.
“ Based on what could be termed a general consensus, the state governors do not want to pay the new wage. When they were given monies to bail most of them that are owing arrears of salaries, some running into years to pay their workers, they are alleged to have used them to prepare for the 2019 elections.
“ I fear that labour will have to embark on a greater strike for these governors to pay the new wage. This in turn will to an extent also be dependent on the reshuffling of the sharing formula between the three tier governments,” he said.
For Unyio Tekena: “ This minimum wage amounts to perpetual enslavement of the Nigerian worker. What can N25,000, N30,000, N40,000 or even N85,000 do for the Nigerian worker who has been raped and sapped by these selfish and anti-masses leaders? What we need is Living Wage not Minimum Wage because minimum wage exposes the Nigerian worker to maximum hell here on earth.”