The last is yet to be heard of Nigeria’s swingy discuss on the endorsement of a befitting minimum wage for workers. The sum of our leaders’ argument on whether or not to increase the hitherto 18, 000 minimum wage simply tells how much Nigerian civil servants are worth in the eyes of their employer and how less concerned the government is of the purchasing power of the masses compared to the cost of goods sold in the market.
Just yesterday, the National Council of State satisfactorily approved the sum of N30,000 and N27,000 as the minimum wage that any lowest paid worker would get in Nigeria.
This is coming after more than 3 years of open and secret proposals, passage of bills, readings and deliberations held to decipher if workers actually deserve to get take-home pays that can in reality, take them home.
For the records, Nigeria has maintained and kept her minimum wage at N18,000 since 2009 – 10 years ago during the administration of late President Yar’Adua.
Between 2009 and today, Nigeria has gone through a piercing, dumbing and deafening economic lambasting that has crippled purchasing power and rendered many in perpetual debts.
Feeding, clothing, accommodation, schooling and health bills have shot up geometrically with alarming percentages everyday whilst the government plays deaf and blind. So, after a thorough examination of the subject matter, the President, with his cabinet members, some state Governors, alongside past leaders including Ernest Shonekan, Olusegun Obasanjo, Abdulsalami Abubakar and Goodluck Jonathan, approved 30, 000 as workers’ minimum wage – an amount which must seem so huge to them.
Meanwhile, the said amount is not exclusive of the monthly tax paid by workers to support government policies, as well as insurance and retirement retrievals. This is more than a rape to the entire workforce of Nigeria.
To say that N30, 000 can cater for a worker’s monthly needs where the payment is often occasioned by delays resulting in strikes, denials of bonuses; is a blatant litotes in a country as ours where lawmakers and their unbecoming aides swim in millions.
Those present at the NCS meeting know too well how impossible it is for them to give N27,000 or N30, 000 to their acquaintances to buy bread, not to mention giving such amounts to their concubines to prepare the simplest breakfast. Yet, they dared approve such amount of money to be paid every 30 days to people who sweat their brows out to ensure that they live large. How else would one describe this form of day-light slavery?
An Article written by Victor Ahiuma-Young on “The long road to 18,000 minimum wage” and published in the Vangaurd of February 27, 2011, states that when the minimum wage was yet N7,500 in 2006, the NLC had argued that it was far below the minimum cost of providing basic needs for the worker and their immediate family. It explained that, “Our survey shows that today the minimum cost of providing for basic needs is N58,200. This estimate is based on threshold hardship levels in which 6 or 8 people may be forced to live in one or two rooms and endure a dietary and living style that is most rudimentary”.
“Additionally, it should be noted that N18,000 is allegedly spent on the feeding of one prison inmate monthly, while the estimate here is merely N20,000 for the feeding of a family of 6 per month”.
“Estimated Monthly Cost of Meeting Basic Needs for a Representative Family Item Cost (N) Accommodation 6,000 Utilities a. Electricity 1,000 b. Water 500 c. Kerosene 4,000 d. Communication 2,000 Food 20,000 Clothing 4,000 Medical 5,000 Education 6,000 Cleaners, Soap and Detergents 1,300 Entertainment, Recreation and 1,000 Communication Miscellaneous 1,500 Total N58,500. Based on the above, NLC, wrote to the government demanding a N52,200, minimum salary increase in the public sector”.
If this calculation of 13 years ago is to be reviewed today, what should be the minimum wage of a civil servant?
In saner climes, salary increase is underlined by the principles of equity and the need to bridge social inequality in the face of widening economic and social gaps amongst citizens of a country. But “In Nigeria, while workers’ salaries increased by 15 percent between 2006 and 2007, those of political office holders increased by over 800 percent”.
Today, Nigeria politicians earn the highest salaries worldwide. In Luxemburg and Libya where minimum wage is $2,500, and $430 respectively, their lawmakers are paid $7,400 and $3000 respectively. But in Nigeria, while minimum wage was $38 (N18,000), law-makers were earning $65,000 (N29m). Now that it is being increased to N30, 000, who knows that lawmakers would be taking home?
In a report compiled by Victor Ahiuma-Young, Nigeria ought to be paying one of the highest minimum wages, given its resources and level of development but the reality is that the existing minimum wage in Nigeria is one of the lowest in Africa.
Also, a list of minimum wages by countries of the world, compiled by Nairaland, shows that Algerian workers earn $175 (N83,000), Cameroun – 36, 270CFA ($75) N38,000, Chad – $120 (N60,000), Libya – $430 (N190,000), Cote D’ivoire -36,607CFA ($72) N35, 000 as minimum wage respectively while developed countries like the United States pay $11 per hour.
There’s no cause celebrating a long overdue increase in workers’ salaries which measures to nothing in actuality but smacks of lobbying in order to appease workers in view of the forthcoming elections.
Except the government realize the role of workers in the build-up of this country, we remain perpetual slaves while they use our heads and strengths to their selfish advantages.