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Minimum Wage: More Rivers To  Cross

Minimum Wage: More Rivers To  Cross

THE Nigeria workers heaved a huge sigh of relief, sent congratulatory messages, one to another, and hailed the National Assembly for proposing the N30, 000 minimum wages and the President, Muhammadu Buhari for signing the bill into law. However, the politics of implementation has just begun.

WHILE many have hailed the decision of the Federal Government to increase the meager sum of N18,000 to N30,000, others have viewed the increment as a mockery of the workers. In their opinion, the increment still represents a shortfall if the dollar exchange rate in 2019 is compared with 2007. In addition, while the  N18,000 could purchase about 206.9 litres of fuel, the new  N30,000 will also purchase the same 206.9 litres.

THIS observation calls for reckon giving that the quest for the increment of the minimum wage was borne out of the drastic reduction in the purchasing power of government employees. However, to many others, half bread is still better than none, hence the applause that welcomed the new minimum wage law.

THE HOPE however observes the lackadaisical treatment of the goose that lay the golden eggs in Nigeria. By law, the minimum wage should have been reviewed and upgraded since 2011. While government pretended ignorance of this fact, it also played hide and seek games when their attention was called to their deliberate negligence. Ironically, the same government did not set up phony committees and panels before the unilaterally increment in the cost of government services. Petroleum and related products; VAT, bank lending interests, examination fees, tuition fees, electricity tariffs, and many others were forcefully increased thereby making impoverishment a national policy, by other means.

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GIVEN the nature of this increment, implementation may be a bit problematic. The nature of the increment is that it does not cut across all categories of workers in Nigeria. The underlining idea in this new minimum wage is the bid to bridge the wide gap between the rich and the poor.

THE lawful selection of beneficiaries would create the first hurdle the NLC and other affiliated Unions would have to grapple with when the implementation tables are eventually released. Beyond this, the State Governments would still seek the sympathy of  workers over their ‘inability to pay’ the minimum wage.

THEREFORE, workers would be blackmailed with the options of re-negotiation of the wage, retrenchment, or non-employment. In worst-case scenarios, it will not be news for State governments to fly the kite of half salaries in order for governments to ‘fulfill their obligations to the electorates’.

 THE HOPE admonishes the various Unions to be wary of Jacob’s pottage.

THE HOPE however believes strongly that all levels of Government have the potentials and capacity to pay the new minimum wage. This can be achieved by the conscious parsimony of government and reduction in profligacy. There should be a reduction in the accumulation of non-advisory special advisers and assistants.

IN addition, white elephant projects and corruption should be nipped in the bud. Government should also have a robust relationship with the eggheads in order to generate sustainable revenue generation ideas that would complement and boost the internally generated revenues of government.

 IN this vein, Government should revive, rebuild, and renovate all government institutions in order to provide services to her employees at lower cost. Beyond this, conscious policies that would develop the informal sector should be addressed. Government should recant her poverty inducing policies and enact policies that empower the citizens in wealth creation. In other words, government should consciously reduce the cost of governance and living.

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WORKERS who would benefit from this increment need not increase their appetites. Given that government employees are employers of the informal sector, prudence and sensibility is expected in dispensing their hard-earned salaries, when it comes.

THEY  are also enjoined to work harder in appreciation of the government’s change of heart. Efficiency and effectiveness should be their watchwords, as their faithful labour would generate the resources for government to pay their salaries.

THE electorates should also be wary in casting or selling their votes to prodigals who would subject workers to tears and blood. In addition to these, producers, distributors, and retailers of goods and services should avoid the temptation of hiking prices for no just cause. What goes round comes round. Nigerians, have in their hands the power to make this minimum wage a blessing or a curse.

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