Minimum wage saga: Government not broke, anything short of N150,000 a joke —Labour experts

Some experts on Labour matters on Saturday declared that the Federal and state governments have no excuse not to pay Nigerian workers a minimum wage of N150,000 or N100,000, insisting that government is not broke and should pay workers well.

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They noted that anyone arguing in favour of government against the demand of the organised labour for a substantial figure for a minimum wage at a time when inflation has eroded the purchasing power of the average Nigerian, is ignorant of the wastage government officials engage in with public funds.

Speaking with Sunday Tribune, an Associate Professor at Kogi State University, Onakpa Mohammed, said; “If we look at the issue of new minimum wage saga critically, is the government not joking with the whole thing? I believe they are joking with the proposed of N48,000 naira initially, to N57,000 as a benchmark for minimum wage.

“For me, it’s still a huge joke. A government that knows that bag of rice in the market today is hovering around N70,000 to N80, 000, wants to offer N57,000 as minimum wage to the Nigerian worker force. For me, it’s a mockery of the whole idea.

“If we limit our analysis to that of officers working on level 1, 2, 3, in fact generally the junior rank officers in the civil service, it therefore means anything short of N150,000 is a huge joke. The N150,000 that I am talking about is not even close to what the workers desire in the real sense of it. I’m surprised that the government is not looking at the bargain from that axis. And they are talking of something below 100,000. For me, it’s a huge joke. I don’t think they are serious with the minimum wage issue.

“The N500,000, proposed by Labour is really not a bad idea for any Nigerian worker today to earn a living wage. But if the government feels that 500,000 is too much, what is wrong with thinking of 200,000? What is wrong with 150,000 naira? Anything short of that range only means they are joking with the welfare of the people”

“Government generates money in trillions. From taxes to royalties and crude oil, it is unbelievable to hear the government say it is broke and could not afford to pay the Nigerian workers above N150,000. For me, they are not being truthful with Nigerians and it really laughable to say the least”, he added.

On his part, Professor Dung Pam Sha, of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies Kuru, said; “I can tell you that what government is offering will not be able to solve the workers’ basic needs; it will not be able to move them out of the poverty. How does the average worker survive in this biting economic condition?.

“I think that what government is offering is not appropriate and cannot solve workers’ problems.

“Government must be realistic. Many Nigerians are having a feeling that government is asking workers to accept low pay. While government officials go home with fat pay every month. We don’t want a nation of inequality. Our constitution is very clear on this aspect.

“The economic team of government is needs to be alive to current realities. You know that there are group of workers who are not earning high salary, therefore lack the purchasing power, but you’re imposing more taxation and levies. So the thinking is not right. While they are thinking of more money for government coffers, they are not considering those who will be paying the levies.

Meanwhile on his part, labour Business School Lagos, Mr. Ossai Ilome, President, , said; “Government does not have the resources to pay the amount labour is demanding. So it requires that labour needs to be a bit more understanding. This is because government cannot focus all the resources in paying civil service alone. So I think that Labour needs to be a bit circumspect in pushing the wage bill they are currently demanding”, he added.

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