Nigeria: How to Permanently Solve Minimum Wage Controversy - Middle Belt, Southern Leaders Forum

Photo: Vanguard
(file photo).
15 November 2018

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has counseled organised labour to key into the struggle to restructure Nigeria, than expend its energy on struggling for a wage that would not sustain quality living.

In a statement Thursday, the forum noted that the N30,000 minimum wage, which is about $90 a month in Nigeria today, amounts to "starvation wage" which cannot give quality life to an average Nigerian family.

The forum said only the devolution of powers to state could guarantee proper harnessing of the nation's natural resources and provide a good remuneration package for its workers.

"All that is needed is to prune the 68 items on the exclusive list of the 1999 Constitution and devolve more powers to the states including the right to mine the resources under their soil and turn every corner of Nigeria to productivity centres as there is no state North and South that is not blessed with one resource or the other," the statement jointly signed by representatives of the respective zones read.

"This is the core issue in restructuring which President Buhari and Prof Osinbajo his vice have consistently shown they don't understand or are pretending not to do."

Those who signed the statement include, Yinka Odumakin, South West; Chigozie Ogbu, South East; Bassey Henshaw, South South and Isuwa Dogo, Middle Belt.

The forum urged the organised labour to key into retooling Nigeria for the benefit of all instead of engaging in maximum struggles for pittance minimum wage that cannot give them decent living and which those who run the country are not even ready to concede.

The forum "observed with keen interest the yoyo dance that both the Federal and State Governments have danced over the issue of a living wage for the Nigerian workers," the statement further read.

"Matters came to a head recently when organized Labour was to call workers out on strike over the N30,000 'agreement' on minimum wage before their leaders capitulated to the deception of the Federal Government that the President has accepted the amount proposed .

"The period after the suspension has seen government singing a new tune with state governments now insisting they have to lay off workers if they have to pay a new minimum wage of N30,000( about $90) monthly .Some states are in arrears of several months even with the current N18,000 misery wage.

"The reality in Nigeria of today is that N30,000 is a starvation wage that cannot give quality life to any average family .It is even more scandalous compared to the wages of those who serve in government and the many extravagant wastes they indulge in.

"However, it must be honestly admitted that the only thing the shrinking economy of Nigeria can sustain under the unitary fiscal arrangement is graft given the absence of productivity and reliance on sharing of oil proceeds.

"The Federal Government recently shamelessly announced that it would have to sell the county 's assets to fund the less than N9trn 2019 budget when studies have shown that Nigeria has the capacity to have a N50trn annual economy if it goes back to the practice of Federalism."

The forum added that "Project Nigeria" had become a stalemate and urged Nigerians not to support any party or candidate that is not ready to go to the taproot of the problem with Nigeria in the 2019 elections.

"It would be another huge disappointment and dashed expectation to do what has been done repeatedly with failure as outcome and expect a new turn," the forum said.

"Those who oppose the restructuring of Nigeria know the good Federalism will do for all, but their desire for command and control for as long as the existing order can guarantee their own comfort is the reason they don't want us to move in that direction."

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