Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has berated the Federal Government for tricking the workers to suspend its recent strike, saying the N30,000 promised cannot even guarantee a living standard in the country.
The leaders stated that without the readiness to move the nation back to the precinct of true federalism where more powers would be divulged to the regions, arguing that the N30,000 minimum wage that the authorities concerned are not ready to pay could not sustain decent living for an average family.
The leaders, in a communiqué jointly signed by Mr. Dr. Yinka Odumakin, South West; Prof Chigozie Ogbu, South East; Senator Bassey Henshaw, South-South; Dr Isuwa Dogo, Middle Belt, said they have “observed with keen interest the yoyo dance that both the Federal and State Governments have danced over the issue of a living wage for the 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 Government that the President has accepted the amount proposed.”
They added that “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.”
They contended that some states are still finding it very hard to pay the current N18,000 minimum wage, stating that the N30,000 salary would be more problematic for the struggling states.
“The reality in Nigeria of today is that N30,000 is a starvation wage that cannot give 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.”
The noted with disdain that “the Federal Government recently shamelessly announced that it would have to sell the county’s assets to fund the less than N9trillion 2019 budget when studies have shown that Nigeria has the capacity to have a N50trillon annual economy if it goes back to the practice of Federalism.
“All that is needed is to prune the 68 items on the exclusive list of the 1999 Constitution and devolve more powers to the states including the right to mine the resources under their soil and turn every corner of Nigeria to productivity centers as there is no state North and South that is not blessed with one resource or the other. 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.”
They therefore advised the organized labour to “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.”