By Bayo Fasuwon
In the telecommunication industry, it is a common feature that various products are offered to the subscribers. More importantly are the bonanzas granted per time. Sometimes, you are encouraged to load a voucher of two hundred naira, and you get a whopping four thousand naira to call all networks, or you pay just five hundred naira to access six gigabytes of data. They are however quick to let you know that terms and conditions apply. In most cases, one is unaware of the terms and conditions. When many fall for these sales gimmicks and subscribe to these products, they are often surprised that the benefits get exhausted faster and or in some cases, could not be used due to network failures and time constraints.
The marketing intention was just to make the subscribers happy for a while, and later make them cry for being short changed. The same goes for pay televisions. Bonanzas are rolled out to give much access to decoders and dishes, with three months free access. The buyer is always happy until the end of the three months. Then, having become addicted to the Pay-tv organization and programmes, higher tariffs are introduced without recourse to the subscribers. Electricity distribution companies would also not distribute light until it was time to con customers of their hard earned dough. When you notice that your electricity is full, and lasts longer than usual, expect your exaggerated bills within a day or two. All these are givers of Greek gifts, which leave the recipients with pains and tears.
All these organizations being partners with the |Federal Government of Nigeria seem to have taught Nigeria the methods of inflicting pain on the masses. For long, every good gesture of government to the people has always been viewed with caution and suspicion by yours truly. During this COVID 19 lockdown, the intention of government to send palliatives to ‘vulnerable’ \Nigerians had a note of sincerity and compassion.
However, at the implementation of the ‘good gesture’, one realizes that it was an n intangible gift to the masses which gave tangible untraceable benefit to the custodians of the gifts. I have the poor and vulnerable in my area, but none, not even their children in the primary schools benefitted from the ‘free home feeding’. Nigeria we hail thee. Having understood that people in government have a written code of impoverishing masses, one was skeptical of the government’s decision to increase the minimum wage of workers from eighteen thousand naira to thirty thousand naira.
One argued that given the exchange rate, there was actually no difference in the wages of workers despite the increase in the minimum wage. Workers jubilated and wept later. The reason is that the terms and conditions attached to the new wage regime ensured that not all workers benefitted from the increase. Rather it was a ‘divide and rule’ gimmick. Even at that, many State Governments reduced the wages; while some are yet to implement the payment. Unfortunately, and outrageously, the Federal Government, State Governments and other collaborators had perfected plans to give with one hand and take with multiple hands.
Human reducing taxation, increase in fuel pump price, stamp duties, gagging legislation salary cutting payment systems and other cash wrenching policies followed the Greek gift of minimum, nay, minimizing wage. Now that the exchange rate pits a dollar to five hundred naira, it implies that the minimum wage of workers is reduced to a mere $60 per month. However, given the attendant increment in the cost of food items, transport, rents and general inflation that followed the increment, a worker’s take home pay is reduced to about $30 per month as the minimum wage.
The Federal Government saw the incidence of the COVID 19 as an opportunity to enforce a more devastating dream of cutting government’s expenditure. In other climes, government at times like this are seeking for how to reduce the sufferings of her people, but that is not the case in Nigeria. In Nigeria, the masses suffer for the corrupt practices of the elites. Given the fall in Crude Oil prices during the COVID 19 outbreak, there were agitations for the reduction of fuel pump price. When government obliged and acquiesced to a marginal but minimal reduction, yours truly knew that another Greek gift had landed. Government, in order to block the excessive loopholes, corruption and leakages in the government’s subsidy programme, had decided to deregulate oil sector. Now, the petrol pump price has risen far above one hundred and sixty naira per litre.
This price change would of course have domino effects on the cost of living in the country. In addition, the cost of epileptic power supply has been increased by more than a hundred per cent. The monopolistic distribution companies have arm twisted and got the nod of an ever willing poverty inducing government to subject the nation and her nationals into more darkness and parasitic destruction. These depressive, inhuman, insensitive and unnecessary hikes added to the rising costs of food, insecurity and social problems makes living in Nigeria, a training ground for hell.
It is also quite encouraging that the legislative leadership could pride itself in visiting Ghana to address the inhuman treatments of Nigerians. However, a caring government who wishes that her nationals attain the ‘next level of excellence and prosperity must also create an enabling environment that promotes such. Also, government should consciously ensure that production costs are reduced for entrepreneurs to thrive. Our ‘Andrews’ would have stayed if the homegrown policies of government was conducive for human development. The Legislature has made a lot of noise concerning discovered loots, with nothing coming out of it. Unfortunately, while businessmen and women can increase the prices of their wares in order to cope with the rising cost of living, the workers on salaries can only watch as their treasures becomes sand, and their celebrated minimum wage would just be enough to pay the interests of the loans acquired to raise their heads just above the water. The time is ripe for us to sing a dirge to the national minimum wage; time to cry for our beloved country; and time to console all workers in the country.
Adieu, national minimum wage.