There is a trend in Nigerian governorship campaigns: promise you would fix the states, pay workers better and advance the welfare of citizens. Then once you become a governor, you would issue a statement: we have looked at the state accounts, and unfortunately, we cannot deliver our campaign promises because there is no money.
The Nigeria Governors Forum dropped one today on the minimum wage debate: $84 per month salary ‘neither realistic nor sustainable.’ Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) cannot understand, and certainly feels betrayed because most of the governors promised to be different.
I absolutely understand the challenge of the Nigerian governors: it is a very risky game to promise to pay what you cannot afford. Yes, it is better you do not promise. Yet, if in 2018, going into 2019, Nigeria cannot afford to pay some public workers $84 per month, insisting on about $63, it means more work needs to be done in the nation.
The N30,000 minimum wage demand of labour unions is “neither realistic nor sustainable,” the Nigeria Governors Forum has said.
Instead, the NGF said, states should pay a minimum wage of N22,500 but any governor who can pay more than this is free to do so.
The forum also said insinuations by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) that its members were unwilling to pay N30,000 minimum wage were untrue. It said its members were willing but unable to meet the demand of the workers’ union.
This is a tough one: the labour union wants to see at least $84 but states have no money. The most troubling is that state revenues are dropping despite jacking-up efforts on internally generated revenue. As revenue flattens or drops, with increasing population, you may ask: these current governorship aspirants, do they know what they are going in for?
“Yet, NLC remains adamant that its will must be done, or the heavens will fall. Already, revenue to states has dropped drastically while demands by competing needs keep rising astronomically. Last year alone, revenue to states dropped from N800 billion when the Tripartite Committee was appointed (November 2017) to between N500 billion and N600 billion by the time Ms Amma Pepple submitted its report in October 2018,” he said.
Certainly, I am not sure many do. And this is my suggestion: INEC should mandate states to publish their books comprehensively and conclusively so that governorship aspirants can see what lies ahead. By doing that, the recurring excuses would be meaningless since the shocks of discovering “empty treasury” on assumption of office will fade.---