The windy and riotous minimum wage journey started in 2017 when the organised Labour demanded N60,000 minimum wage for workers. After a series of deadlocked meetings with the Federal Government represented by the Labour Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige, Budget and Planning Minister, Udoma Udo Udoma and others, the government slashed the number to N30,000.
Recall that during the period, state governors had categorically given some unplausible conditions for paying the minimum wage even with the money reduced to N30,000 among which was laying off some workers in their states. They even proposed a miserly N20,500 citing the ailing Nigerian economy.
Shortly before the end of 2018, Labour had threatened the Federal Government that it would go on strike by January 1, 2019, if it failed to honour its pledge of paying N30,000 by that date. Even as we speak, it had not honoured the agreement.
The usual ritual of fruitless and deadlocked meetings were held by the Federal Government and the Labour with government not making a categorical statement on the issue. The workers continued to bear the brunt hitherto.
However, another meeting was held last Tuesday where the Federal Government decided to transmit the minimum wage bill to the National Assembly on January 23, 2019. The pertinent question we ask the Federal Government is why not today or tomorrow for the transmission of the bill to the National Assembly? We take the promise with a pinch of the salt. Why drag the issue to the end of another month? Is the Federal Governmnent still buying time on the minimum wage conundrum?
It has become a Federal Government’s penchant to prevaricate and procrastinate on crucial issues, like this minimum wage. Why is it very difficult for the Federal Government to pay its workers N30,000 compared to the humongous pay lawmakers get every month and governors’ monthly takehome security votes coupled with their special assistants and advisers’ fat salaries?
We hereby appeal to the Federal Government to stop dehumanizing the country’s workforce and stand by its promise of paying them N30,000 latest by January 31, 2019 as nothing short of it will be accepted by us and the generality of the citizens.
We also salute the organised Labour in the face of extreme provocatiion for being patient enough not to call out their members on strike for the time the negotiations lasted. They are the most patriotic organised Baour probably on the continent of Africa.
The Federal Governnment needs to be reminded that the January 23 date given by it to transmit the minimum wage bill to the National Assembly is a time bomb waiting to explode if it reneges on its promise because Labour just suspended their strike waiting for the Federal Government play ball.
Either by act of commission or omission, the Federal Government should do all it can to forestall the impending strike as its aftermath could be deavastating to the already comatose economy. It would grind activities to a halt nationwide resulting in manhour losses and money which dould run into trillions.
We doff again our hat to the organised Labour for their spartan discipline in their hour of trepidation.
Our economy cannot afford another bashing this time around especially with 2019 elections around the corner, therefore the buck stops on the Federal Government’s table.
Although, we still have some misgivings on the January 23 date of transmitting the wage bill to the National Assembly, we equally hope that the Federal Government will this time do the needful to save the cocuntry from being a pariah state.