Abeni Aso-Oke

The Minimum Wage hullabaloo; ‘Monkey de work Baboon de chop’. By Lai Gidado

The Minimum Wage hullabaloo; ‘Monkey de work Baboon de chop’

Abeni Aso-Oke

Abeni Aso-Oke

The idea of increase in labour wages all over the world is always as a result of hardship due to either inflation or economic down turn.

My first Salary at West African Examination Council WAEC, Yaba in the year 1980 as WASC A level holder awaiting results was two hundred Naira (N200) per month, I lost the then lucrative job after 6 months because it was regarded as illegal for an awaiting result to work with same Examination council.

Abeni Aso-Oke

I got another work at Radio Nigeria 2, Martin Street Lagos with my WASC, this time on One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty five Naira (N1,785 ) per annum until I finally landed at the Nigeria Television Authority NTA on the 2nd day of April 1981, where I was placed on salary scale level 04 step 5 @ one thousand nine hundred and fifty Naira (N1950) per Annum.

This period, workers were not seeing agitating for increase in Salary. Our currency Exchange rate was one pound sterling to seventy five Kobo (75 Kobo) Nigerian Money.

Workers were comfortable with the little wages, even during the Almighty NPN regime of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Adisa Akinloye, Umaru Diko and other men of timber and caterpillars.

As a student on study with pay at University of Ife, everything was comfortable for me, I could afford to even house my friends who couldn’t afford accomodations.

Shortly after the takeover of government by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and Gen Tunde Idiagbon, things started falling apart. But the government quickly introduced price and commodity control in all the State of the Federation, government equally introduced sales of essential commodities in all ministry of commerce across the country.

With the above, government was able to stabilize the economy.
Back to NTA now on Salary level 8 step 2 of three hundred Naira per month, I could still afford to rent a room and a parlour and even pay my junior sisters’ school fees.

During Babangida regime, all the price control and essential commodity units were abolished and prices of goods started growing and then comes request for increase in Salary and wages.
Since the abolition of price control and essential commodity units, Nigerian workers have been facing hardship and salaries have been increased by military many times.

First to seven thousand Naira per month, then Eighteen thousand Naira per month, twenty one thousand Naira per month by the civilian regime and thirty thousand Naira per month also by civilian regime.

My take: Is request for increase in wages or workers salary what we need? No…
I expect the organised labour to first make the following requests;

That the National Assembly members should reduce their salaries and other emoluments by 50 percent and choose all their aides amongst the civil servants according to our constitution.

The president and Vice president by 50 percent and Ministers too, by 50 percent and choose all their aides amongst the civil servants also.

The same should apply to the states.
By these, we would save a lot for the nation.

The standard of living of our political office holders is having serious adverse effects on prices of goods and services.
Don’t forget we all goes to the same market where all animals are equal.

What is good for the Baboon should be good for the monkey.
I was surprised to see Parliamentarian who recently requested for 300 percent increase in their fabulous allowances saying, 490, 000 minimum wage would affect the Nations economy.
I am surprised that our lawmakers can reason selfishly like this.
What a single lawmaker is earning is enough to cater for 30 graduates’ salaries.

Do we as a nation needs dual national assembly? No. Instead, I suggest a part time Senate. While house of Representatives wages should be based on sitting allowances.

Majority of Nigerians can not afford two good meals per day, yet our lawmakers can afford 150,000 dollars SUV cars.
I wonder how they feel driving such cars to their constituencies where many goes to bed on empty stomach.

The moment Salaries are increased, prices of goods and services would be increased. Let our political class cut their allowances and raise workers salaries a little.

Let the government bring back price control unit.
Let’s bring back essentials commodity units.
Let us improve security apparatus.
Make farm environment safe for farmers.
Make electricity stable.
With the above, our nation would be investor’s destination.

God bless Nigeria

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