Minimum Wage: The Never Ending Story. By Uwana Michael

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“In Nigeria, while workers’ salaries increased by 15 percent between 2006 and 2007, while those of political office holders increased by over 800 percent”. In a closer look, this means if a civil servant and a political office holder both earn N50,000 before 2006, by 2008 their salaries would be N57,500 and N450,000 respectively.

I do not like to say, but the Federal Government of Nigeria has failed in her responsibility for far too long. To make workers suffer emotional exposure with occasional strike action over minimum wage crowns the governmrnt’s irresponsibility to welfare of her workforce.

The workforce of a nation is like the airbag of a car while FG is likened to the seat belt. These two components are needed in every car for full operation and safety against accident. The fact that the airbag is literally not seen, although, with a small inscription that makes it almost unnoticeable doesn’t make it less important. It’s there against the day of eventuality.

For the automobile, safety is assured but eventuality is presumed else there would be no need for car insurance. Likewise, the days of economy downturn is inevitable. As a matter of fact, according to a report by Bloomberg, JPMorgan Chase, a major US bank predicts that there is a 60% chance of a recession in 2020 and an 80% chance by 2021. This means that another global meltdown is eminent, soon.

I hope it doesn’t happen! But one thing I have come to understand as a Forex trader over the years is that the financial markets respect pattern and sentiment. If recession should show up at our doorstep, the workforce must have to form a formidable support to prevent total collapse of the economy.
Not meeting the need of the workforce as it is the case in the political sphere is intentionally punching holes in the airbag. A damaged airbag can’t provide support against head crash. A damaged workforce can’t hold an economy collapse. And we all can’t be political office holders to have a good life.

Sadly, this N18,000 ($50) minimum wage was last ratified seven years ago. This is one evil under the sun, an evil which precedent needs to end. Since I was a boy, this Labour and Government duel for a considerable true fair share of wage has been in existence. It’s almost becoming a never ending story, I fear it might be a case study for thesis someday. Be it as it may, before a decision is considered on this matter this time, the dollar (the naira big brother currency) factor should be considered. In 2011, 1 dollar was around N152; at the time of this writing, 1 dollar is N363, if my mathematical tendency is right, that’s 139%. increase in exchange rate.

According to an article on Vanguard, on February 23, 2014, Senator Smart Adeyemi, of PDP, Kogi, said, “We have more resources to pay, states in Nigeria are richer than some of the states in West Africa, so they can pay. “The problem is mismanagement of resources and corruption. People divert money from this country to abroad for selfish gains. I hold the strong view that N18000 is not enough. I am also of the view that we should have a bill to review the minimum wage annually because of the rate of inflation is on annual increase.”

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As good as that sounds, how many of his colleagues would agree to this? Back in 2016, I carried out the #NationalWealthInequality movement. The Nigeria is a nation for all. But when the going is smooth and sweet, a very few citizens benefit and the larger majority suffers, and when the going is tough and tight the same few benefits and the larger majority still suffers.

Like I said, if any other labour strike holds over minimum wage then FG has failed again. If N30,000 minimum wage is ratified and there is an increase in fuel price then once again the FG has fail. Or if there is a mass lay-offs or delayed of salaries afterwards, then FG have failed woefully .

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. This Nigeria is for all.

Uwana Michael
Author, The Hope: The Nigerian Dream Reply
Published 2011

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