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Salary review instead of minimum wage

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THE minimum wage of N30,00 for workers on grade levels 01-06 brouhaha and the additional consequential adjustment of the percentage of increase of minimum wage from grade level 07-17 have been laid to rest following months of agitations on the proper wage for workers and the need to add something reasonable to workers on the other grade levels. The masses commended the maturity and synergy between the organised labour and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, headed by the sagacious and indefatigable Dr. Chris Ngige, OON.

When Ngige was re-appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in his second tenure journey, well-meaning Nigerians hailed it giving the dexterity and technical mastery of the herculean assignment by Ngige.

Commending the re-appointment, the NLC said: “Your appointment speaks volumes of the confidence that Mr. President reposes in you to steer the affairs of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment towards the upliftment of the masses of our people from poverty, indignity and indecent work.

“It is our expectation that you will use the rare opportunity of your re-appointment to promote and advance tripartism, social dialogue, decent work condition and harmonious industrial relations in Nigeria”.

The federal government should be commended for yielding substantial grounds in the negotiation of the consequential adjustment because of the fact that it has expressed trepidation that the consequential financial implication might not be carried by the sub-national governments-state and local governments.

Expressing the fears of the federal government, Columnist Levi Obijiofo said, “The government’s response articulated by Minister for Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, was that the increases demanded by labour would lead to retrenchments in the public service in order for the government to raise the wage bill of N580 billion. Ngige said that this amount represented what the government would require in order to pay the consequential salary adjustments demanded by the labour.

“While many state governments regard the payment of the minimum wage as an unnecessary burden on their states’ resources, workers believe that the refusal to pay or delay by state governors to pay the monthly salaries should be seen as uncharitable, high-handed, intolerable, undeserving and unwarranted source of pain. Both the government and labour have dug themselves into uncompromising positions from which they might find it difficult to free themselves”.

It is absolutely necessary to re-think the issue of minimum wages and salary review in Nigeria which purports to be practicing a federal arrangement. It is time to face the stark realities of a federal system of government as it is being practiced in other countries of the world.

It does not pay for the leadership of Nigeria to be pretending that things are moving well while the nation is literally heading towards disastrous and irredeemable and even disintegration as a result of dissatisfaction of a greater percentage of the ethnic groups who have been complaining aloud against the practice of what public affairs commentators describe as “Unitary Federalism”. Nigerian leaders should stop behaving like an Ostrich which buries its head in the sand dunes to hide from its pursuers.

A return to the practice of federal system of government

as at the Nigerian Independence in 1960 should be the sensible and right path to tread to save the country from international odium and ridicule.

When the present six geo-political zones are made Regional Governments, they will explore and exploit the abundant mineral deposits in the respective zones to create wealth, employment and jumpstart the country’s GDP for the benefit of all and sundry. Consequently, there will be no brouhaha every five years for a minimum wage to replace the existing one.

If reality is anything to go by, there can’t be such thing like “Minimum Wage”, rather it will be “Salary Review”. The later will take care of the former because workers in the upper salary grade levels need salary adjustment when there is discernible jump in the cost of goods and services.

It need not be written in the constitution that there should be a review of minimum wage or salary review every five years but when it is abundantly clear that the income of workers are nothing to write home about with the hyper-inflationary trend in the country.

This is what is obtainable in civilized countries. While urging the government to pay the arrears of the minimum wage from April, the organised labour further harped on the need for “Salary Review”.

They said: “We are also glad that government has taken note of the need for a general salary review in the public service. We are looking forward to this review and we hope that the federal government will keep to its promise, which was made during the negotiation of consequent adjustment”.    

It does not pay to be recalcitrant by a section of the country which delude themselves that they have the majority when it comes to election and decisions in the National Assembly to continuously kick against restructuring the federation to reinvent True Federalism since the contraption under which the country is being governed has rather dragged the country back and created massive dissonance in the corporate affairs of the country.

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