N18,000 Minimum Wage: There Should Be No Controversy

Editorial

The minimum wage controversy continues to rage as organised labour threatens to flex its muscles while some governors have continued to moan that it is impossible for them to pay the minimum wage and provide infrastructure at the same time.

Some of these governors have even called for the removal of subsidy on petroleum products to enable them get enough money to pay.

Surprisingly, no highly placed government official or political office holder has suggested a cut in the salaries and allowances of political office holders all over the country, although this would have been the simplest way of solving the problem. It would also be the most reasonable, for we all know that the cost of running this country is running the country down.

We believe that the N18,000 minimum wage is possible. There should be no arguments about this. By the time we check the security votes of governors, some of the allowances of our lawmakers, both at the state and federal levels, the allowances of ministers and commissioners, the number of aides an elected public officer can have, then we would have saved billions of naira. Plugging the wastes alone would solve the minimum wage problem.

Those who actually know have agreed that N18,000 minimum wage is payable.

Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala declared while standing before the Senate in Abuja yesterday that the amount is payable as the nation’s economy can sustain it. And this is a woman who should know. She even suggested that the current 74 percent recurrent expenditure should be reviewed to pave way for more capital expenditure, to enable government spend money on other things like the power sector, roads and other infrastructure.

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In the past few months, organised labour, the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress have not raised their voices loud enough. We cannot allow Nigeria to sink, just because we are afraid of losing our jobs. This is a time when patriotic Nigerians should stand up to be counted. This is the time to decide our collective destiny. Nobody would fight for us. Nigerians need to understand that the government cannot be stronger than the people it serves.

Prices of foodstuff and other essentials are rising daily, yet some Nigerians, used to enslaving the general populace are complaining about just N18,000 as minimum wage. How many Nigerians eat well? How many can afford to send their children to good schools? How many can afford to live in habitable houses? Yet, the country makes billions of naira daily from the sale of crude oil.

Public utilities keep failing and most Nigerians now fend for themselves, especially when it comes to electricity and water, things the citizens of other countries take for granted.

Governors who think the N18,000 minimum wage is too much should resign. They should vacate their position for individuals who have the welfare of the people at heart.

Nigerians are hungry, and angry that less than one per cent of the population is enslaving the other 99 per cent. Look at the number of our political office holders and what they take home monthly. Think about so many who need so little to survive. Think about the health challenges of many Nigerians and how many go to sleep on empty stomachs. Is the government helpless? We do not think so. The controversy over N18,000 minimum wage is unnecessary and time wasting. Let the state governments re-order their priorities and set the argument to rest. Enough has been said over this minimum wage issue. It must be paid.

By the way, is N18,000 enough as minimum wage? Would even twice that amount be enough as minimum wage in these times of runaway inflation? Let the governors stop moaning and pay up. Nigerians are not fools.