Abeni Aso-Oke

Nigerians need living wage, not minimum wage — Stakeholders By John Dike Osogbo

Nigerians need living wage, not minimum wage — Stakeholders

 

Abeni Aso-Oke
Abeni Aso-Oke

What is needed is a living wage and not necessarily a minimum wage and that is where the labour union seems to be getting it wrong.

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The Executive Director for Centre of Good Governance, Comrade Dr Ayo Olowu made the disclosure, while speaking with our correspondent in Osogbo.

He posited that what is needed is a living wage and not necessarily a minimum wage, saying that is where the labour union seems to be getting it wrong.

According to him, the labour while negotiating a higher pay for workers needs to impress it in government and work with government to bring down the cost of food which is only achievable through investments in agriculture, wide food production and processing scheme as well as a regulation for food supply and sales to curb self inflicted high price of food items.

“The labour union also needs to engage government across board in regulating cost of housing as well as investment in mortgage for workers to own houses.

“There is also the need to impress it on government at all levels to work on food infrastructure, good road network and investment in public transport to lessen the burden on workers.

“If all of these and more are done and put in place, it will ensure lower inflation rate and allow labour to negotiate a living wage and not a wage that will be paid and consumed by market forces.

Also speaking, Comrade Emmanuel Olowu, the state committee chairman for Defence of Human Rights, said Minimum Wage and Inflation in Nigeria will remain a trend without the justiciability of the chapter 11 of the Nigerian Constitution.

According to him, it should be noted that the new minimum wage in Nigeria will aggravate inflation due to government’s failure to include provisions for the informal sector of the country.

“This neglect of the informal sector will consistently lead to inflationary pressures, as living wages for formal workers will drive up commodity prices because those in the formal sector will purchase from those in the informal sector who have seen themselves as persons who have not benefited from the wage increment in the country.

” The recent move by the Federal Government to implement a 25% wage increase in Nigeria after the removal of PMS subsidies and increase in electricity tariffs etc, necessitates that labour union bodies demand the justiciability of Chapter II of the Nigerian Constitution.

*Titled “Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy,”*, this chapter outlines the political, economic, social, educational, foreign policy and environmental objectives of a state.

Comrade Olowu hinted that it is essential to highlight that while massive food production is crucial, without the justiciability of Chapter II of the constitution, all efforts by the government or labor unions to address these issues of wage increase will inadvertently exacerbate inflation.

” In conclusion, for sustainable economic policies that benefit all Nigerians, the government, labour unions and Civil Society Organizations must prioritize the justiciability of Chapter II of the Nigerian Constitution.

On his own, Mr Adetimehin Olumuyiwa Benjamin, a Public Affairs Analyst said it is an aberration to say, that advancement in minimum wage for civil servants or workers at all levels of government, is a panacea to the current economic pandemonium in the country.

He said; “In as much as I want a better life and good living condition for our civil servants, one must take a critical and indepth look into the economy of the nation.

“There are three tiers of government, the federal, State and Local governments .The federal government, over the years has relied solely on oil exploration and export without diversifying into non- oil sector like agriculture, conversion of gas that are being flared to use mining etc.

“An economy that wants to grow but do not leverage on production cannot thrive. Agriculture can contribute largely to the economic mainstay of a nation if all tiers of government are proactive.

“There must be sincerity of purpose at all levels of government by our leaders .The Governors have wielded and abrogated so much power to themselves that they do not allow local government to function properly the way it should.

“They only select people that will play ball to run the affairs of government .The court has made it clear and laid the matter to rest that the 774 local governments should be granted autonomy but that the state governments have vehemently refused, hence, the dividends of democracy cannot be felt at grassroots level and this has increased the gap between the affluent and the impoverished, consequently leading to high poverty line being shot up.

According to him, to end it all, the three tiers of governments should embark on a massive drive on agriculture by ensuring and making provision for grants or loans, farm equipments at subsidized rates. Secondly, all ministries of agriculture should be given a mandate to plant grains, perishables, annual, biennial and perennial crops.

Thirdly, to cushion the effect of inflation as a result of subsidy removal, foods like rice, beans, yams, palm, provisions should be purchased in large quantities and stored in warehouses.

Designated centres would be created for eligibility before you can be entitled to buy some of these things. This can be achieved through creating ICT expert. Take for instance, rice, there is no way you can come twice within the week to buy it.
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He however said the increment in minimum wage is not a sure way to stabilize the economy rather it will enhance inflation.

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