By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – AS campaigns for the 2019 general and presidential elections kicked off Monday, the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Trust, PT, Gbenga Olawepo- Hashim, has unveiled his plans for the country, with a promise to implement a minimum wage of N50,000 to the workers within the first year in office if elected.
The Presidential candidate has however expressed disappointment over the present salary scale of workers and their poor living condition, just as he attributed that to what he described as the absence of creativity and imagination on the part of the country’s present economic team.
Unveiling his plans to Nigerians yesterday at Ibro Hotel, Abuja, Olawepo- Hashim who disclosed that he would create four million jobs annually if he emerges the winner in the 2019 election, said that he would achieve this through the Infrastructure investment Fund and remittances from Nigerians in the diaspora, which the country has not taken serious advantage of.
Olawepo-Hashim who also promised to grow the economy of the country from N430 billion to N5 trillion, said: “Nigeria is a very good destination for investment and there is massive infrastructural deficit.
“Nigeria happens to be one of the countries with wide rate of returns on investment but the problem has always been the bottlenecks which public servants put on the ways of investors and that is why we are one of the worst places in terms of the record of ease of doing business.
“As one who has invested in agriculture myself, particularly in the power sector, I understand these bottlenecks. They are not according to our laws, they are man made that can be removed in 90 days and Nigeria will be able to target five percent of infrastructure funds that will be flowing in this country.
“It is not government that can create jobs, it is investors that will create jobs and five percent of infrastructure fund is about $3.8 trillion in ten years for Nigeria.
“Another area that massive investment has been coming to the country which can be increased by five times is the area of remittances from the diaspora community who right now have not been properly integrated into the investment network.
“In 2013, the diaspora community contributed about $27 billion in remittances to Nigeria. You can make $100 billion on a yearly basis from remittances alone.
“It is the lack of creativity in the management of the country economy right now that is making it look like we cannot have money to pay N50,000 minimum wage.
“When you expand the GDP as a result of dismantling the bottlenecks to investments, the taxes that will be collected by government will be so phenomenal that paying N50,000 minimum wage won’t be too difficult for a serious government to do.
“Right now, the minimum wage of Nigeria is one of the lowest in the world and that is because of poor imagination in the economy.
“So it is not just proceeds from oil that will be used to run the country, even if nothing is stolen from the money that is made from oil, it is so little that you cannot look after 180 million people.”
Speaking further, the Presidential candidate said, “We have very important sites in Nigeria that can be properly marketed for tourists to come and pay money.
“There is so much about this country beyond oil but the problem we have had is incongruity and mismatch in the potential of Nigeria and the quality of leaders that we have had especially since 1966.
“When Nigeria was governed properly, Nigeria grew in every respect. The leaders then were sufficiently prepared in terms of exposure, education and love for country.
“Awolowo and McCauley were educated. So we cannot be led by people who don’t have idea in this century and that is why I believe once the challenges are solved, we will see progress.”
On why the minimum wage has to be increased, he said: “I beleive N30,000 is small, if they don’t want people to be collecting bribe at the gate before allowing cars pass, you have to pay them a living wage. There was a time nobody was collecting bribe before doing their jobs.
“People have been so dehumanized now because of poverty and collapse of institutions and that is why they behave below permissible standard.
“If you want people to behave well, it is not by shouting anti-corruption. You must also attack corruption by the roots and why those at the lower rung of the ladder collect bribe is because they are not paid decent minimum wage and I feel N30,000 is too small. By the end of our first year in office, we will pay a minimum wage of N50,000.”