FG, Labour tussle: The victor and the victim

By Otuedon Vincent

There is no doubt Nigeria as a country is going through one of its toughest times economically. In the midst of the harsh economic realities, the government has increased the cost of governance and labour has also demanded for improved pay, rightfully so.

Unfortunately, the victims of the ongoing tussle between the federal government and organised labour are indifferent. For clarity, the tussle is about who takes what of our common wealth. While labour has legitimate claims, the people of Nigeria are the greatest stakeholders in this matter. The contention is between two servants over what each thinks he is entitled to, incidentally while the civil servants are direct employees of the people, politicians are supposed to be the voice of the people, chosen by the people to protect their interest. Between the two parties, (government and labour), the people are the focus or the lord.

The politicians who are supposed to be the voice of the people to determine the salaries of our employees have lost their voices due to wanton and arbitrary allotment of our commonwealth to themselves, so they have no clean hands to approach the court of equity. It is the masses, only the rise of the masses can tame this unruly evil of our government being reciprocated by the unrealistic demands of labour for its members.

It is elementary economics, that during inflation, salary earners suffer, increment of salary does not curb inflation rather it aggravates inflation, increasing spending by government skyrockets inflation. But the politicians are too guilty to drive home this point.

There are hardly organisations that increase salaries by 100 percent, even if it does happen it is when the organisations break even and decide to reward its workers not when the organisation is bleeding almost to death, though, the flamboyance by government officials does not reflect the bleeding state of the masses. There are many other ways, if we decide to reason outside the box, to cushion the effect of the inflation on the workers other than unrealistic wage demands, knowing the obvious consequences on the economy of the nation we claim to be serving. Except labour is saying, since politicians do not care, they also no longer care.

Obviously, the politicians lack the moral fortitude to confront these issues, how would the few politicians whose monthly entitlement is almost able to pay all the workers put together complain that the increase of workers salary would cause inflation? Particularly when they have not agreed that their prodigal spending has landed the nation’s economy where it is now.

The burgling question remains, if Nigerian workers receive salaries that are as high as the politicians, who suffers? What is the resolution of labour to tackle the inflation and the menace of corruption other than the increment of salary? The people of Nigeria whom they serve deserve to know.

If the government of Nigeria has money, it is only because it is not working, which pushes the burden of living above the waters on individual households and birth the need for increase in income for the home front. If we increase the earnings of households because the government is not working, it will amount to giving up on the nation because we would have shared what we were to use to build the nation to households.

I respectively submit that labour should have a rethink, we have a common enemy that has hijacked our commonwealth. We need a concerted effort to tame it but to go in the manner labour is going about it may plunge the nation into a terrible state and the people whom they serve would be the victim. I also call on the government to as a matter of duty make sacrifices by cutting down the cost of governance in order to lead by example making sacrifices in hard times where the people are already feeling the pains of economic policies.

Otuedon Vincent is a Human Right Activist and President Liberty Harbingers Network

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