By Dapo Akinrefon
LAGOS— Southern and Middle Belt Leaders, yesterday, said restructuring remains the only solution to the minimum wage stalemate between the Federal Government and Organised Labour.
In a statement by Yinka Odumakin (South West), Prof Chigozie Ogbu (South East), Sen Bassey Henshaw (South South) and Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), the forum called on Organized Labour to “key into retooling Nigeria for the benefit of all instead of engaging in maximum struggles for a paltry minimum wage that cannot guarantee them decent living and which those who run the country are not ready to concede.”
The statement reads: “The forum has observed with keen interest the yoyo dance of both the Federal and State Governments have danced over the issue of a living wage for Nigerian workers.
“Matters came to a head recently when organized Labour was to call workers out on strike over the N30,000 agreement on minimum wage before their leaders capitulated to the deception of the Federal deception of the government that the President has accepted the amount proposed.
“The period after the suspension has seen government singing a new tune with state governments now insisting they have to lay off workers if they have to pay a new minimum wage of N30,000( about $90) monthly .Some states owe salary arrears of several months even with the current N18,000 wage.
“The reality in Nigeria of today is that N30,000 is a starvation wage that cannot guarantee quality life to any average family. It is even more scandalous compared to the wages of those who serve in government and the many extravagant wastes they indulge in.
“However, it must be honestly admitted that the only thing the shrinking economy of Nigeria can sustain under the unitary fiscal arrangement is graft given the absence of productivity and reliance on sharing of oil proceeds.
“This is the core issue in restructuring which President Buhari and Prof Osinbajo his vice have consistently shown they don’t understand or are pretending not to do.
“Project Nigeria as it is has become a stalemate and Nigerians are advised not to support any party or candidate that is not ready to go to this taproot of the problem with Nigeria in the 2019 elections. It would be another huge disappointment and dashed expectation to do what has been done repeatedly with failure as outcome and expect a new turn.”
“Organized Labour should key into retooling Nigeria for the benefit of all instead of engaging in maximum struggles for pittance minimum wage that cannot give them decent living and which those who run the country are not even ready to concede.
“Those, who oppose the restructuring of Nigeria know the good Federalism will do for all but their desire for command and control for as long as the existing order can guarantee their own comfort is the reason they don’t want us to move in that direction.”