MINIMUM WAGE: May Labour Unions Not Labour in Vain — By Ogo-Oluwa Adelakun - Penangle | News Portal in Nigeria
Tue. Jun 25th, 2024
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What should those with either the least or no educational qualification be paid for work? Are we to pay them hourly or weekly wages? Maybe they should earn a monthly salary?

The fact is, if one decides to run a research on this question, it is almost certain that we would get varying answers regarding what the pay should look like not just to those who rank lowest in society’s echelon due inadequacies in qualification but persons who have had to resort to any available job for survival.

Thankfully we do not have to waste precious time quizzing anyone on minimum wage because since 2019, President Muhammadu  Buhari signed a bill into law to make 30-thousand naira the national minimum wage. Although implementing this law across the country has not been particularly successful because many state governors opposed the move and claimed not being able to afford to pay such. A position that has led to huge disagreements with organized labour till this day.

Some have said the complaints from state governors has led to the creation of a bill sponsored by Hon. Garba Datti-Mohammed of Sabon Gari Federal Constituency, Kaduna state which seeks to make it possible for all the states in the federation to fix their own minimum wage.

It would not be farfetched to say the aforementioned move is what made the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba issue a nationwide protest today in order to express displeasure on the development of the bill which gives room for a bespoke system in states regardless of the law for a uniform minimum wage in the country.

The NLC is also seizing the moment to speak against the plan of the federal government to move the National Minimum wage from the Exclusive list to the Concurrent legislative in  what they described as an attempt to negate the struggle and fight by Nigerian workers to get their due.

Some have blamed the current issue on  federal government’s failure to carry states along when signing the national minimum wage bill into law, knowing fully well the economic viability of states outside the monthly federal allocation.

However, the question to those who make a case for this paradigm is that, how can state governors take such position when they can simply cut down certain spending habits to accommodate paying ordinary working citizens an amount that arguably may not do much for them anyway.

Are these governors trying to say that 30-thousand naira is too much even with current market realities ?

Concerned Nigerians also fear that in the name of granting states the ability to fix the minimum wage according to their capacity, some may decide to set theirs lower than what was previously obtainable before the 2019 law.

Who are we to question the average Nigerian on the predominant atmosphere of lack of trust in both state and federal governments if plans are in motion to give states power to potentially decide to reduce money that is widely considered as insufficient.

If indeed the country plans  to promote the culture of earning through honest means, then it must ensure that dignity in labour means that the least of us get paid dignifying wages or salaries across all coners of Nigeria.

Bestselling authour George Orwell once said that if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

Nigerians want states to devise creative means in generating revenue in order to pay the new minimum wage to workers instead of taking the easy route of conveniently paying what they can, how they can, when they can.

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