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Minimum wage palaver, why Senate must intervene

Minimum wage palaver, why Senate must intervene

By Ayodele Fagbohun
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The entire work force in the public service are apparently non plussed on how the Federal Government and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) are pussy footing almost at daggers drawn over the implementation of the new minimum wage structure of N30,000 monthly.

The delay and criminal silence about the lots of government pensioners in what presumably a selfish negotiation, according to some obviously angry workers, is too cold for comfort.

To the consternation and dismay of public spirited individuals, the National Assembly seem indifferent to the scenario that is playing out between the labour and the Federal Government on the vexed issue.  It stands to reason that any deadlock in the unserious ongoing negotiation will provoke considerable industrial row and disharmony that may not augur well for the present fragile economy not completely out of the woods.

The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) whilst rejecting Federal Government’s circular on minimum wage implementation alleged that the newly inaugurated 9th National Assembly members were showered with billions of naira at a time government is playing games and pranks with the minimum wage.

The TUC then put the Federal Government under stricture that the organised labour should not be held liable for any consequential arising from the non-implementation of the minimum wage.

It will be recalled President Mohammadu Buhari on April 18, 2019 assented to the new National minimum wage Bill.  Its non-implementation by now is not justifiable as it is tasking the patience of the long suffering workers.  For how long will the Federal Government and the labour force half the present uneasy and untoward oscillation between the devil and the deep blue sea?

Instead of approaching the onerous and selfless task with focus, seriousness and dispatch it deserves; clears any differences or discrepancies and effect the immediate payment of the new wage to alleviate the plight of workers.

Whereas, the president had given a directive as a marching order to commence immediate payment of N30,000 to the lowest cadre in the Federal Civil Service.  Or are we saying in our right frame that the president’s order is not worth the paper it was written.  It shall remain to be seen in due course if the president’s begin move to accede to the needs of low income earners in the public service is a product of a toothless bull dog.

However, the generality of the people keeps on wondering agape for how long will the welfare and well being of the toiling Nigerian workers should not by any means be driven to be wall and forced to be on offensive sprawling for a judicious fight to secure of things; for a just and equitable distribution of the national cake from which they have felt to be at the receiving end.

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Since the initial success that railed the 1919 October Bolshevik Socialist revolution is Russia which was well packaged with unique and formidable unity of purpose extant amongst the allied forces working concertedly and frantically to overthrow the oppressive and tyrannically stagnated regime of the ruling Czars, the struggle for better conditions of service and the living wage for the working populace the world over and the total liberation from the exploitation of the nouvea richs’ ruling class has assumed the fiercest and widest proportions.

We are authoritatively told Lenin’s party popularly tagged “Workers’ Party” made considerable efforts to rally the vast mass of the peasantry behind the workforce which in the final analysis resulted into stupendous victory for the proletariat.  The historic milestone recorded in the fierce and epic struggle of the workers to have a place and in the sun should be the guiding and underlying spirit to fashion out from the motley array of contending political parties jostling for power, an invincible coalition force that will entrench purposeful and ideologically oriented government favourably disposed to the welfare and well-being of our entire workforce in this thriving democracy.

Against this backdrop, we are elated and excited at the re-election into office the coalition forces of All Progressives’ Congress (APC) in spite of the shortcomings; the renewal of the mandate freely given to President Buhari via the ballot box to relentlessly carry out the anti-corruption war to logical conclusion.

Again, we commend the tenacity of purpose charismatic visionary leadership of the former NLC president, one time elected governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole for standing firm that the inaugurated 9th National Assembly is focused, disciplined, patriotic and scrupulously committed to party supremacy that will truly consolidate our fledgling democracy in sharp contrast to the previous National Assembly (1990-1015) riddled with top heaviness, avarice, arrogance, indolence, profligacy and morbid corruption, the bane of the present national development.

The present political leadership of the coalition forces in the National whose arrow head is the core membership of All Progressives’ Congress (APC) must loudly profess a new social order, be imbued with spiritual and moral depth to decode the encoded modus operandi that can easily and quickly fastrack good governance.

The nagging issue of welfare of worker shall definitely elicit the widest demand of the electorate for the workers have for long been persistently oppressed, shortchanged, hood winked and given a humble pie by every government of the day.

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When retired from active service having spent their useful years of 35 years in meritorious service to the nation, they are neglected and forgotten.  Their arrears of pensions and backlog of gratuities remain unpaid by the government.  This is the plight of Nigerian workers and pensioners.

It is high time the Federal Government is synergy the brand new National Assembly work assiduously to liberate the Nigerian work force and peasantry from the iron grip of the neo-colonial fascists and compradors that planted themselves as faceless cabal in every administration, scheming with all vengeance to rule Nigeria again by proxy and probably through the onslaught of a failed and corrupt political outfit, the People Democratic Party (PDP) which for upwards of 16 years of absolute misrule decapitated the country and reduced her economy as a banana republic where nothing works.

To jettison the alien culture of avarice and predilection for corruption tendencies that characterized the failure of past National Assembly, the present experiment should view their career and calling in the prism of rendering selfless service to country men and women and accept it as such.

The leadership of the 9th National Assembly must come out with far reaching decisions and reforms that will assist the Federal Government to conserve more foreign exchange and bankroll the public institutions with adequate fiancé to perform statutory functions in the lives of the people.  Apart from creating an enabling environment for the private sector to function optimally, the government holds and controls the purse string of the nation and must be alive to its responsibility of crating job opportunities and filling existing vacancies for the economy to attain exponential growth within shortest possible term.

In the Second Republic, the Senators and House of Representatives’ members were placed on meagre allowances for their services.  Many of them were already distinguished in their various professions and occupations before venturing into partisan politics.

I believe some lawmakers in our National Assembly are men of substance and of proven integrity whose conscience will prick them on the palous state of the nation’s economy and the existing grinding poverty around for receiving the alleged jumbo pay packaged allocated to member of Nation Assembly for doing so little to improve the economy.

Politics is a calling that must be rendered selflessly and joyfully without necessarily plunging the nation into financial jeopardy and bankruptcy.  It is very unthinkable and counterproductive in the extreme for anyone to go a-borrowing in an attempt to serve lest he goes a-sorrowing and finally into insolvency and suicide.

It is a matter for regret to say umpteen times with anguish and agony likened to what Jesus our Lord suffered and encountered in the garden of Gethsemane, that political venality sneaked into our political lexicon courtesy of former President Olusegun Obasanjo for his inverterate third term ambition syndrome.

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Unlike Jesus whose ransom and death brought salvation to human race?  But since Obsanjo’s presidency the nation has continued to drift, wallow in financial quaquire in budget padding, delays and all sorts of reprehensible malfeasance in the National Assembly.

The National Assembly, by he unsavoury conduct has held the nation into hostage; driven her from pillar to post consequent upon the reckless and avaricious abuse, misuse of public funds which has spread like a virus which haunts and manacles our endeavours in liberal and parliamentary democracy.

As a matter of national interest and necessity the National Assembly’s members are enjoined to divest and shed its excesses of public funds.  National Assembly should not be seen as octopus with feet of clay but serve as complementary arm in the progressive policies and programmes of the present or any administration.

It is corruption per se to allow or look unconcerned as the honourable lawmakers junket around the globe; and behave as spendthrifts at the expense of the rest of us.

President Buhari must act fast and live to its anti-corruption stance.  He must be more bold and courageous enough this time around to call the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission to order with a view to checkmating and reducing the unrealistic allowances and salaries allocated to political office holders especially our lawmakers across the country.

This is an astere time as the economy is still fragile to sustain the gargantuan financial appetite of the lawmakers without being nosed sooner than later. The lawmakers are strongly advised to be contented with only allowances which will have marginal effect on the Federation account.

Country men and women are advised to tread the path of probity, fiscal discipline and accountability and compels our leadership at every tier of government to be more judicious in public expenditure to enable them be their brothers’ keepers.

This spirit shall be a stimulus and impetus to government be it federal, state or local and the Labour forces to strike a healthy compromise and urgently implement the N30,000 monthly wage bill and the additional perks that will be of advantage to civil servants and pensioners across board.  All stakeholders in Nigeria’s project, the Senate inclusive should meet with the Federal Government and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to stave off impending industrial upheaval which the nation cannot afford fro only righteousness exalts a nation.

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