By GABRIEL OSU
There is a minimum wage palaver that is ragging now in this country: the National Assembly passed the bill and President Goodluck Jonathan signed it into law. But state governors say they cannot pay the minimum wage of N18,000, and they are complaining about it. According to them, until the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) fixes another revenue formula upwards for them, they will not be able to pay the minimum wage.
The minimum wage is too small to be paid in a country such as ours that is flowing with milk and honey with vast human and natural resources! You will consider that the governors receive revenue allocation from the Federal Government and from the excess crude oil allocation; they even get other taxes from the states, etc.; they have no complaint at all to make. It is a clever way to dodge the minimum wage; it is indefensible and uncharitable.
“A worker (labourer) deserves his wages”, Jesus said in Matthew 10:10. The governors are playing with the law-laws of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria! In Matthew 20:8-16 Jesus rejected the image of a God who pays only according to human merits. For Jesus, the only sound attitude is that of a child who does not claim any right, cannot merit anything and who waits in active expectation of gifts from the Father. Nobody should feel more deserving because he was converted to Christ before others.
All are workers and on the same level. There is no superiority of same over others. Matthew 20:13 spells the contract agreement with the workers. Promises must be kept and contracts strictly observed to the extent that commitments made in them are morally just. A significant part of economic and social life depends on the honouring of contracts between physical or moral persons—commercial contracts of purchase or sale, rental or labour contracts. All contracts must be agreed to and executed in good faith, also in Catechism of the Catholic Church 2410.
Wages is a compensation for performing work or service to a government or body, organization, or an association. Workers are treated in this country with disdain, governments don’t have respect for them, too bad! The Federal Government has agreed to pay the minimum wage, state governments have no moral right not to pay. To defraud a hired man of his wages is a sign that cries to heaven for vengeance (Jas 3:4).
While the Federal Government pays the new minimum wage to federal workers, the 36 state governors should pay the minimum wage because that is the most honourable thing to do. To do otherwise tantamounts to cheating.
*Monsignor Osu is Director, Social Communications, Lagos Catholic Archdiocese.