THE MINIMUM WAGE IMBROGLIO: GOVERNORS AND HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY MEMBERS ARE OUR BIGGEST ENEMIES
Tomorrow, the 6th of November 2018, baring any last minute change of plans, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the two largest workers/employees umbrella bodies in Nigeria would resume its suspended industrial strike action. The strike is over the refusal of the Nigerian government to increase the national minimum wage from the very, very low N18,000 to a very low N30,000. This comes on the heels of organized labor boycotting yesterday’s joint meeting. Add to this the fact that today, ASUU has began an indefinite national strike action.
Amidst the whole drama: arguments and counterarguments, figures and couunterfigures, statistics and counter statistics, associated with this looming strike action by the NLC and the TUC, and others before it, we often forget the inglorious and ignoble roles of state governors and their lackeys in states Houses of Assembly play in the issue of minimum wage increase in Nigeria. You see, and as I’ve always maintained, state governors in Nigeria are the biggest obstacles to growth and development in the country. Even though democracy is not full-blown in Nigeria, it is almost nonexistent in the states and worse at the local government levels – because of the actions of state governors – most of whom are openly selfish, dictatorial, controlling and unaccountable.
Even though the Federal Government is arguing against the increment of the minimum wage to N30,000, state governors are the main brains behind this opposition – because they claim they cannot pay increased minimum wages especially as many of them are defaulting in paying the current N18,000. In this argument, it is necessary to state that this claim by state governors is both brainless and wicked. How can they pay salaries when they are fantastically corrupt (apologies to David Cameron) and see their states treasuries as their personal bank accounts which they use to unilaterally allocate values to themselves, family members and cronies.
In many of the states in Nigeria, there are unbelievable laws backing ridiculous allowances that ensures that former state governors (and their deputies) are well catered for after they vacate the office, even after eight (8) years of pillaging their states treasuries based on their selfish whims and caprices. Now, this is where the legislators in the states Houses of Assembly become conspirators as it is they, following the directives of state governors, that ‘debated’ and passed the laws that settled governors for life – even in states like Benue and Kogi where retired workers are paid peanuts as pensions. Add to the fact that some of these former state governors are also drawing salaries from the nation in their roles as Senators and Ministers. Yet, these people are insisting that their states cannot pay N30,000 as minimum wage, one of the lowest minimum wages in the world.
Nigerians should know that state governors and state lawmakers spend more than N30,000 every week to feed their domestic pets such as dogs, cats – and even snakes. I’d bet that the children of state governors and state lawmakers spend more than N30,000 monthly on ice-creams, shawarma, air tickets, etc yet they cannot pay workers the same amount to spend on food, clothes and shelter. And yes, state governors and their largely redundant aides consume 1million times the amount workers are asking for on drinks at owambes. Nigerians should also know that most state governors would rather die than better the lot of the people – even though they’d pretend to be interested in the plight of the masses. These are truths that can be easily verified by anyone.
Thus, this writer urges Nigerians, as we support and encourage labor to embark on this strike tomorrow until government bulges, to beam their searchlights more on the actions and inactions of state governors and their man Fridays in the Houses of Assembly. These selfish office holders, and not the federal government, are the real enemies of workers in Nigeria – especially when one considers the fact that the sum total of states government workers are overwhelmingly more than those of the federal government. Granted, the federal government has its own share of the blame but state governors, state lawmakers and their profligacies are the main opposition to increasing minimum wages in Nigeria.
© Chad Otsapa 2018