ORGANISED labour, led by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has threatened a nationwide strike in order to prevent the National Assembly from passing the bill that will remove Minimum Wage from the Exclusive to Concurrent Legislative List. In other words, states can fix their Minimum Wage according to their allocations or the revenue they generate instead of making it uniform and compulsory for every state.

The NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said it was a declaration of war on Nigerian workers. And the NLC organised a one-day nationwide protest. They went to the National Assembly and the state Houses of Assembly on March 10.

And to add salt to injury, some have the audacity to plan a ‘pension’ of stupendous proportion for themselves. Houses in their states and Abuja, the federal capital, going on medical trips abroad, domestic servants, cars that are to be changed every four years and so on.  All the things they used to get free, paid by the state must continue through another means. And some of these states owe pensioners for months.

The proponents of this bill believe that since many states are yet to implement the N30,000 (new) minimum wage, which was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on April 18, 2019, why not for each state to peg its own minimum wage on what it can afford? Besides, they are always owing salaries.

However, some feel that there is enough money to pay, citing the security vote that is shrouded in mystery. Money not accounted for in the name of security and other spending by the state governors.

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People are not fools, they see the lavish lifestyle of some governors and other political office holders and their families. Governors are literally emperors in their states and their children stalk the public space like they own it, which they do literally, because nobody can challenge them.

And to add salt to injury, some have the audacity to plan a ‘pension’ of stupendous proportion for themselves. Houses in their states and Abuja, the federal capital, going on medical trips abroad, domestic servants, cars that are to be changed every four years and so on.  All the things they used to get free, paid by the state must continue through another means. And some of these states owe pensioners for months.

The people also see the foreign trips for shopping, leisure, education or for medical reasons, especially now with social media.

Therefore, to come out and say that they cannot afford the N30, 000 minimum wage enrages the people who see how they live. Some may point out that the governors were already wealthy before they became governors, it may be so, but as governors they are enjoying the largess of that office and not forfeiting it in spite of how wealthy they may be.

So, out of the N30,000 you pay rent, you feed, you buy clothes, you pay school fees, pay electricity bill, pay water bill or buy from the ubiquitous  mai ruwa, (water vendor),  you buy medicine, you pay for transport. You help your parents and other relations. No wonder you may definitely wake up one day or many days to be precise, with nothing to eat in your house while your children are sent home from school because you had not paid their school fees, or your wife had given birth and you are in a dilemma.

In any event, we can go on and on, but actually my concern is how much worth is a N30 thousand minimum wage in relation to today’s economic reality? There is more than 100 per cent increase in electricity tariff and the price of fuel is still rising. So the public transport owners have to increase their fare to recoup their money and the traders would increase their prices too to recoup their own as well. Those that render services using electricity would have to charge more.

So, out of the N30,000 you pay rent, you feed, you buy clothes, you pay school fees, pay electricity bill, pay water bill or buy from the ubiquitous  mai ruwa, (water vendor),  you buy medicine, you pay for transport. You help your parents and other relations. No wonder you may definitely wake up one day or many days to be precise, with nothing to eat in your house while your children are sent home from school because you had not paid their school fees, or your wife had given birth and you are in a dilemma.

If they eliminate ghost workers, ghost pensioners, ghost beneficiaries of every government support system such as scholarship, among others, perhaps the Nigerian worker can have a minimum wage that can take him home.

You also see some civil servants that are graduates and had spent nine or ten years in service but their salaries are not up to N50,000 each. They are supposed to be comfortable, but they are not. They also face the same problem as the minimum wage earners depending on their family size and other responsibilities.

One argument I find untenable is when some people feel that workers don’t deserve much, perhaps even the minimum wage! According to them, after all, they are not the only people in the state. But they render services and make the machinery of government to function.

If they eliminate ghost workers, ghost pensioners, ghost beneficiaries of every government support system such as scholarship, among others, perhaps the Nigerian worker can have a minimum wage that can take him home.

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