On Thursday, the 27th of June 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari promised that the implementation of the newly approved minimum wage would take off soon.

President Buhari also directed all the state governments and employers of labour in the private sector to get themselves ready towards the provision of the new wage so as to ensure workers are encouraged to work towards the development of the country.

Remember, this new minimum wage had been signed into law by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the 18th of April 2019, and workers and all concerned had been in grand expectation that the implementation of the new wage would commence immediately.

Now when it is said that the minimum wage is N30,000, it applies to the levels of workers that collect minimum wage; and in addition, there is supposed to be upgrades/increments across all the levels of Civil Servants.

As a resultant effect, this is supposed to be replicated by the private sector as well; workers at the lowest levels in the private sector are supposed to get N30,000, while those in higher levels are to see their salaries increase by certain percentages. So it’s bound to be a fabulous package for all workers right?

However, Thursday’s meeting between representatives of the Federal Government and labour ended in a disagreement with both parties failing to come to a consensus on the proposed percentage increment.

Both parties were to serve as the technical committee set up to work on the adjustment of the wages across all the levels of workers, resulting from the new national minimum wage.

But on Thursday’s meeting, the representatives of the federal government told the technical committee that the salary and percentage adjustments could not go above one hundred and sixty eight billion, as approved in the 2019 budget.

An anonymous source alleged that labour settled for a salary increase of 30% for workers on levels seven to fourteen, while the federal government representatives opposed this with 9.5% increase.

Also, as labour settled for a 25% increment for workers on levels 15 to 17, the federal government representatives declared a 5% increment.

THISDAY recently reported that the federal government had proposed, in addition to the adjustments of the minimum wage of those who are already on level one to level six to reflect the new minimum wage, a consequential salary adjustment of N10,000 per month across all the other levels.

The big question however is; is the implementation of the new minimum wage, and it’s resultant adjustments based solely on the provision that was made for it in the budget?

Another way of asking this question would be; by what parameters are minimum wages usually set? The socio-economic and statistical indicators of a given nation, or simply an allocation in the national budget?

Again, which factors were considered and examined; which statistics were scrutinized and referred to, before the figure of N168 Billion was arrived at, as being sufficient to cover the required levels of salary increments and upgrades across all levels of workers, to ensure that the standard of living of such workers, as well as their welfare, is up to par with the socio-economic realities of the nation?

Yet again, for how long are these workers to wait, for the government to keep to their word and implement the new wages so that their standard of living can improve, and their retirement savings increase, so they can be better provided for and more comfortable at retirement?

By definition, a minimum wage is the lowest renumeration that employers can legally pay their workers. The minimum wage movement was first motivated by the need to come up with a way to end the exploitation of employees by employers.

Minimum wages are supposed to improve the standard of living of workers, reduce poverty, and also ensure that workers are properly motivated to give their best to their various organizations, and to the development of their country.

Among the indicators that are usually used to set minimum wage rates are; socio-economic conditions as measured by gross domestic products; inflation; employment figures; supply and demand of labour; productivity growth; business operating costs; the cost of living across different parts of the country, as well as the general average wage rate.

A moderate increment of salaries by any nation’s government will also facilitate the rate at which consumers spend; in other words, their purchasing power and ability to buy much needed goods and services. This is really needed in Nigeria currently, where inflation over the years has eroded the value of the naira, and of wages, and yet wages have more or less remained stagnated, forcing a huge portion of the masses into a hand-to-mouth existence.

A well-balanced approach entails clear criteria to guide discussions on the levels of new minimum wages, and also, reliable statistics and indicators to assist the government and labour in the course of their deliberations.

There is ALWAYS a strong link between wages and productivity, so if the federal government is really focused, both on the development of the nation, and the welfare of workers and their families as the President recently claimed, all these factors should be considered in the adjustments and increments across all levels of the salaries of workers, and not just a figure provided for the minimum wage in the national budget, without adequate dialogue with organized labour based on the statistical indicators that will ensure that the minimum wage will produce the desired, required and effective results.

I think, for once, the leaders of our country really need to put the welfare of workers into consideration because the economic growth and development of any nation is dependent on the quality, capacity and skill of it’s manpower.

Nigerians have been disillusioned for decades; most Civil Servants just go to work to earn and feed their families, not to produce and give their possible best to the development and growth of the various organizations in which they work, which in turn, will facilitate the growth of the nation.

True patriotism has vanished; and it it’s place, corruption has evolved and grown, because the people have come to believe that the government does not care; and there is actually a lot of truth in this.

However, if the federal government uses this opportunity to show Nigerians that their welfare is the government’s concern, not just by saying it, but by putting into consideration the socio-economic parameters that other nations use when adjusting minimum wage levels, geared towards the best interests of their workers, then Nigerian workers will be motivated and with this attitudinal change, as well as the increase in the general standard of living, the country would have taken a key and an indispensable step towards sustainable economic growth.

It is unfortunate that while political office holders earn jumbo pay, which has made the cost of governance unnecessarily high, Civil Servants and those in the private sector are still being denied access to minimum wages and the corresponding adjustments that should have been implemented years ago.

Recently, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan claimed that their monthly salary was only N750,000, but this was disputed by the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof Itse Sagay (SAN) as only a “half-truth”; that the stupendous allowances allocated to them, raised their monthly income to N15 million, with the leaders of both the Senate and House of Assembly earning even more.

We know that equality in income is out of the question. However, the timely implementation of the minimum wage should not be trifled with as this will propel this country in the right direction. The government needs to take this as a priority and stop this delay from lingering any further.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you have any further information, solutions or suggestions we can benefit from as a nation? Please feel free to drop them in the comment section below; we’re waiting to hear from you.

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