I do not know how to begin this note. Yes, when the Nigeria Labour Congress was pushing for the evidently deserved raise on workers’ wages, I made a comment that winning the strike and legal battles for workers may not mean that their bank accounts would see the money. Yes, in a nation where population growth is growing faster than economic opportunities, shocks will happen. When you add that Nigeria uses 60% of its revenue to service debts, you get a clear picture that striking for wage raises may not mean much in the long-run. Yes, if there is no money, minimum wage would be frozen.
Kano state has drawn the first blood: “The Kano State Government has reverted to N18,000 (about US$46) minimum wage, …The Special Adviser on Media to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, Salihu Tanko-Yakasai, confirmed the development in a telephone interview with The PUNCH on Wednesday in Kano.”
“Yes, the state government has stopped the payment of N30,000 minimum wage to its workers with immediate effect,” he said.
Tanko-Yakasai said the reason behind the action was due to the recession occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, the state was unable to continue paying N30,000 because what the state was currently getting as a government had reduced.
“The state government has reverted to the initial minimum wage due to the recession.
“What we are getting now as a government has reduced, and we can’t afford to pay the N30,000 minimum wage,” he said.
You read it, and as the official noted, Abuja was not sending us enough money, and that means we cannot pay the old N30,000 ($79) monthly wage. But if you are truly honest with yourself, you would have expected this. When Kano state agreed to pay this minimum wage, there was no clarity on how it would do it without Abuja expanding its size!
Of course Kano state workers are lucky; Abia state does not even care, even to pay the minimum wage. The state abandoned its college of education when workers went on strike for unpaid wages. Today, that school is permanently closed.
As always, expect some strikes in the next coming weeks. But those will not change the fundamental construct of the root cause which remains that Nigeria needs a drastic redesign on its economic architecture, to become more productive, so that the state workers could generate enough, to pay themselves whatever they want, instead of waiting for handouts from Abuja.
Abuja may not be helpful these days as it is looking for money to fund its own bureaucracy. Since 1999, Nigeria has scaled wastes, and it seems the party will continue, as they have removed the brake pads in Nigeria’s moving train to nowhere.
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