By Oji Odu
There is heightened anxiety and fears by Nigerian workers less than one month to the September date for the kick-off of the new minimum wage regime that the date may not be feasible. This means a continuity of the peanut N18,000 minimum wage and Nigeria’s ‘Monkey’ labour force, because when you pay peanuts to your workers, you tuMinimum Wage: Nigerian workers to Rrn them to monkeys. It also means a continuity of high level corruption in the civil service which they use the tight bureaucratic structure perpetrate their acts.
With the N18,000 monthly minimum package of the Nigerian worker, in the light of present economic realities, little wonder why the tension among the workers with looming postponement of the kick-off of the new wage regime, which amount they don’t know.
The Magazine’s findings reveal that with N18,000, the Nigerian worker has N581 to spend daily for feeding his family, transport, house rent, education of his children et cetera. However, N56,000 will be N1,806 daily to take care of his life, reason and be effective. “ This is pathetic and needs urgent resolve,” Kaliwo Johnson, a Sociologist told the magazine in a chat.
Meanwhile, speculations are rife on the new minimum wage. How much is the new minimum wage? Nobody knows. It is more that the 30- man committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to review the minimum wage is yet to conclude its work and submit its findings. This has confirmed earlier statement by Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige that it will not be ready by the September date as envisaged.
According to Minister, the September date was just a date to conclude negotiation on minimum wage and not the kick-off date for the new wage regime. He explained: “The committee on the new National Minimum wage is expected to conclude its work by the end of September and present its report to the government for deliberation and approval.” Ngige said it would be presented before the National Council of State before an executive bill is sent to the national Assembly on the issue. Thereafter, it will be sent to the President for his ratification.
Speaking on the issue, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) General Secretary, Peter Esson said that the minimum wage negotiation committee had been meeting everyday in the last one week to ensure it meets the deadline. “On our part, we are doing everything possible to ensure that we meet the deadline and ensure the report is submitted this month. Ours is to ensure that the work is completed this month and transmitted to the president,” he said.
Meanwhile, with the National Assembly on a two-month recess and is not expected to resume until September 22, this could further delay the implementation process, in spite the fact that labour seems confident that the National Assembly lawmakers would reconvene by the time the committee’s task is completed. The Magazine gathered that civil servants in the country are not ready to accept any extension of the date for the new minimum wage implementation to take off.
Urging the Federal Government to match words with action and live up to its promise to implement the new minimum wage in September, the Nigerian Civil Service Union (NCSU) through its President, Lawrence Amaechi said in a communiqué issued at the end of the unions National Executive Council (NEC): “The federal government must match its words with actions so that the high expectations of workers on the implementation of the new minimum wage would be realised on or before September 2018. Failing this, the entire members of the Union will not take it with levity.”
In the same vein, the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) at the end of its NEC meeting on Tuesday expressed concern at remarks credited to the Minister of Labour and Employment that the September timeline would no longer be feasible, with no other date given.
“NAAT is aware that NLC and TUC have jointly made a submission of N66,500.00 as new NMW, and that tripartite meetings in this regard are ongoing. As an affiliate of NLC, NAAT is in agreement with NLC and TUC on the submission made. However, the union urges parties in the NMW negotiations to fast-track the process to ensure implementation this year, 2018. Undue delay would be unacceptable,” a communique issued by the union stated.
NLC President, Ayuba Wabba had expressed confidence that the minimum wage committee will round off its work this August. Speaking during NLC’s annual Rain School in Your Village, he said: “The Congress and other stakeholders are still meeting on the issues of minimum wage and, hopefully, will round off by August 2018.
“With minimum wage as one of the most important ways of motivating workers to provide effective service, it is envisaged that its implementation will engender growth, not only among the public sector workers but also among the workers in the private and informal sectors of the economy. In addition, the financial benefits associated with the minimum wage would trickle down to the whole society.”
On his part, the TUC President, Kaigama Bobboi, affirmed the stance of labour on the September deadline, saying there would not be any room for extension. On the fears that the recess by the National Assembly will affect the implementation process, Bobboi said it was possible that the National Assembly will reconvene if it becomes necessary “You know the recess is political. I don’t think it will affect the process. Ours is to get the job done and send to the executive arm of government,” he said.
However, for Kaliwo, there is no reason for further delay in the reasonable upward review of the minimum wage which has pauperised the Nigerian worker. The selfish politicians have capitalised on this fact to cage the workers “who some of these politicians think are hungry enough that they can be bought over days before elections with N3,000 each. It is, indeed pathetic,” he stated.
With various reasons given by these politicians for their inability to pay, there are fears that that they may have hijacked the committee which may make nonsense of what the new minimum wage will be.