May 29, 2024

Nigeria Slides into Wage Crisis: Labour Demands N615,000…Edo Adopts N70,000 Despite Funding Salaries with CBN Loan

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Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki during the Workers Day parade in Benin City

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By Duro Aaron in Abuja

The National President of the National Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, has described the Federal Government increase of civil servants by 35% as mischievous, insisting that the minimum wage should not be below N615,000

Ajaero made the statement in an interview with Channels TV yesterday Wednesday May 1, 2024. He said the federal government should pay workers a “living wage.”

According to him, the FG proposal “…now appears mischievous because there is no wage increase that government is announcing.

“For them to announce it now, it is an issue that we are worried about at the NLC and even at the TUC.”

Ajaero however added that the President promised to pay a “living wage”, and it was legislated upon by the National Assembly.

He added that, government is yet to reconvene a meeting with the organized labour after they submitted a report of N615,000 to the government as the amount for living wage.

In Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki announced a new minimum salary regime of N70,000 for civil servants in Edo State. His decision has been applauded by the less than 20℅ government workers in the state and local government employees.

Ex governor of the state, Senator Adams Oshiomhole who also announced qn increment in salaries of workers in the states civil service from N18, 000 to N25,000 praised his successor, Obaseki for the increment.

Credit: Nairametrics

Oshiomhole had also announced his increase during his address to workers during the 2016 May Day celebrations at the Samuel Ogbemidua Stadium in Benin City, few months to Obaseki’s election.

Oshiomhole said he was happy that Obaseki has kept the ‘tradition’.

“I’m very happy with what the Edo State Governor has done,” Oshiomhole stated during an interview on Channels Television. “He is just being consistent with the tradition that we established when I was governor and he was my economic adviser.”

President Bola Tinubu, on the other side, who was represented at May Day anniversary by his deputy Kashim Shettima at the Eagle Square in Abuja, said the Federal Government will soon unveil a new “living wage”.

Hailing workers for their fidelity to peace, progress and development of the country, the President said the tripartite committee on a new minimum wage was unable to reach a consensus at its last meeting before the May Day celebration.

Although Governor Obaseki has explaiened that the N70,000 minimum wage is within what his administration can afford, and also promised to “adjust” upwards should the Federal Government decides on a higher minimum wage and make the funds available to States from the savings which have been made from fuel subsidy, Midwest Herald investigation shows that, the outgoing state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has borrowed over N15bn from the Central Bank of Nigeria to meet the earlier N30,000 minimum wage in the state.

“With a disbursement of N15.76 billion, Edo State is sixth on the list. The state, famous for its rich history and as a cultural nerve-center of the old Benin Empire, has sought financial intervention to meet its governmental obligations.

“The amount borrowed is contained a report seen by Nairametrics, which presents the disbursement of the over N10.3 trillion intervention fund by the apex bank under the former governor, Godwin Emefiele,” a report on the deplorable financial position of Edo State stated.

He has also refused to account for series of fuel subsidy palliatives, including the mass transit CNG buses and N5bn civil service compensation funds, as well as the grains that were released from the National Strategic Grains Reserve.

Analysts are worried that critical infrastructure will take a further less priority with the implementation of Obaseki’s N70,000 minimum wage in the state. They are accusing Obaseki of playing politics with the well-being of Edo people all in the name of political victory.

“Politics is all about physical development and well-being of the citizens. I am a member of the School Management Board in one of the schools, we are horrified by the physical structures and learning environment.

“We have made suggestions but no response from the Ministry of Education or Universal Basic Education.

“If a teacher now earns more and he or she has no classrooms to teach, the pupils and students becomes the victims,” the board member from Edo South lamented.

In less than 150 days or thereabouts, Edo people will be left with about a Trillion Naira debt to contend with.

Read Also: State of The Nation: Why Labour, Civil Society Should Confront State Governors

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