Federal Government, Labour And The Unending Diversion – By Hafsat Salisu Kabara

THOSE who run our affairs are far too unserious wearing asoebi at any given opportunity and flying agbada all over the place other than concern for our welfare. That’s another reason why real development will continue to elude this nation. After 60 years of independence and 25 years of democratic rule, there is no stable power in the country, undilapidated road all over, good health is a thing of admiration to us, quality education – it’s either you have the money to take your wards to an elite school or take them to a public school that the teachers always leach their anger on how the government poorly pays them. PAYMENT, oh yeah, that brings us to the topic of the day – Minimum wage

I actually thought my next write-up would be on how NLC stood their ground, I was following the chess game between FG and the NLC. I was really really liking the shutting down of the national grid, and water disconnection…. everywhere was shutting down. Finally, I thought to myself, the comrades will always argue, FG might or might not listen, depending on where the wave pushes.

The message looks like the Labour are saying; Hello FG, we meant business this time and workers are not coming back until an increment is made – substantial increment as at that. And this is not me trying to be mean, it was what I hoped for from the strike, enough of this hardship and It’s the ordinary people who suffered most of it – my freshly pressed juice business inclusive. We can’t continue robbing Peter to pay Paul. I was actually happy with the way the strike was going.

Alas, 48 hours later, there was an emergency meeting and the strike was called off. Really? Well, why am I even surprised – this has been going on for as long as I can remember. The most recent was in September last year, everyone was ready for the strike and in a few days, it was called off.

The masses are not taken seriously in this country, this minimum wage issue says it all. A committee of 37 Nigerians was drawn from various stakeholder groups. A whole “37”, here’s the interesting part, a request was made for the government to approve one BILLION for the operations of the committee and other related matters for the period the committee was to sit. Later, the request was slashed to N500m for people flying agbada to yarn about the minimum wage to be increased from 30k to whatever it is they arrive for the minority of Nigeria’s workforce. Imagine!

They should have at least graced the meeting with their presence with a much less expense, but their excellencies were busy with things more important, on so many scheduled date, the governors and a few govt officials failed to show up for the meeting. This is very disturbing or so I find it. Is talking about how much to pay their workers beneath them, and what does it take away from them? The only perso who attended the meeting was Hope Uzodimma of Imo state. Only him, this just shows disdain and levity.

Considering the high cost of living, if only wishes were horses, N500,000 isn’t much of an amount to be given as minimum wage. But in all honesty, that’s not possible. Many SMEs cannot afford to pay the N30,000 minimum wage, not out of cruelty but because they cannot afford it. If that’s to be implemented, a lot of SMEs will run out of business.

How does someone earning 30k a month survive? A certificate of survival needs to be shared with certain people. Because you can’t just wrap your head around it, probably half the populace are self-employed or into things that will put food on their table. The people need more breathing space while the FG works out enduring policies to reduce inflation.

The suggested 615,000, and 497,000 by the NLC are not workable, let’s face reality, the FG offering 47,000, 57,000, and 62,000 is also not right. That’s below a hundred thousand. I think both parties should work on a considerable amount, let’s get this done over with and face other issues. Reality must be faced and sentiments aside.

Kabara, is a writer and public commentator. Her syndicated column, Voice, appears on News Point Nigeria newspaper on Mondays. She can be reached on [email protected].

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