The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned state governors that workers across the country will embark on an industrial action if the N18,000 minimum wage is tampered with, adding that ‘some of them spend more than N100,000 to feed their dogs, lions and other pets they keep monthly, why can’t they pay their fellow human beings, an average worker, N18,000 monthly’.
A statement by the president of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said the governors’ insistence on either abolishing the N18,000 minimum wage or retrench workers was invitation to crisis.
According to Vanguard reports, the NLC Boss, who spoke on the lingering fuel crisis and the proposal for a new national minimum wage, maintains that Organized Labour will resist any attempt by state governors to stop the payment of the minimum wage.
He said: “Governors should prepare for the mother of all battles. They should not underestimate the resolve of the NLC to protect the interest of workers. We will shut government in any state where the governors stop payment of N18,000 minimum wage. What is N18,000 that these governors say they can’t pay. Some of them spend more than N100,000 to feed their dogs, lions and other pets they keep monthly. If they can feed animals with N100,000, why can’t they pay their fellow human beings, an average worker, N18,000 monthly. It is an insult, we are not going to take it.”
“We are still in a state of shock that our governors could make such pronouncement. What is N18,000 in view of the current economic challenges in the country? Speaking realistically, what is N18,000 in a month? We were thinking that these governors will make an upward review of the minimum wage, but what we got in return was a shock. N18,000 is not a living wage, and our leaders know this and yet they are saying they can’t pay it.
“Are Nigerian workers fools? It is not as if the governors don’t have the wherewithal to pay this money, their problem is that of misplaced priorities. There are a lot of leakages in the system which, when blocked, will ensure that governors have more than sufficient funds to pay workers – look at the duplication of political offices and appointees by many state governors. What about jumbo salaries these political appointees collect every month? They run into hundreds of millions of naira.
“Why should the NLC now fold its arms and allow workers to be made sacrificial lambs by the governors? Never. Some of these governors, apart from living opulent lifestyles, have also embarked on projects that have no relevance to the lives of the people. The cost of governance should, at all levels, be drastically cut down. The hundreds of billions of naira our public office holders fritter away in the name of governance is what is not sustainable.
“We are even planning to demand for an upward review of the minimum wage in view of the present economic hardship. Many states are in the poor financial state they are in today largely on the developmental choices they have, largely on the basis of priorities they have chosen which has nothing to do with public good.
“We insist that workers salaries can’t be sacrificed on the altar of the challenges of the economy which is not the making of workers. It has never happened in the history of our country and it will not be said that it is during our leadership of the NLC that this calamity was allowed to happen to workers.
“The governors should reorder their priorities and, instead of going cap in hand to Abuja at the end of every month to collect allocation, they should look inwards to increase their internally generated revenue, IGR.”
Wabba said although they might embark on strike, they are open to dialogue, but the sustenance of N18,000 minimum wage is non-negotiable.