By ANDREW OJIEZEL
Organised Labour under the aegis of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) has condemned the bill being sponsored by Hon Ayeola Abayomi Abdulkadir at the Federal House of Representatives seeking to remove wages from the Exclusive Legislative List and put it under the Concurrent Legislative List just as it called on his constituency to set necessary machinery in motion to recall him since he has lost touch with reality.
In a statement, the ASCSN National President, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, and the Secretary-General, Comrade Alade Bashir Lawal, regretted that at this period when Nigerians were clamouring for upward review of National Minimum Wage which came into effect in 2011, Hon Abdulkadir had elected to stay on the wrong side of history by advocating that the National Minimum Wage should be scrapped.
“It must be admitted that some State Governors have always campaigned that there should be no National Minimum Wage so that they can begin to pay any amount they wish as salary or nothing at all even though they as Governors collect the same salary.
“Since some lawmakers themselves were sponsored by State Governors and, therefore, are their surrogates, it may well be that these self-serving politicians are now using some legislators including Hon Abdulkadir to reopen the issue of abolishing the National Minimum Wage, a matter that was resolved as far back as 2014 by the National Assembly itself after a public hearing,” the Union regretted.
The ASCSN posited that most countries of the world guarantee enhanced National Minimum Wage for their working population to ensure quality standard of living.
It added that Argentina pays a minimum wage of 6,370 dollars per month; Algeria 2,145 dollars; Botswana 652 dollars; Brazil 3,660 dollars; Chad 1,217 dollars; Republic of the Congo 1,826 dollars; Ecuador 5,124 dollars; Equatorial Guinea 2,618 dollars; Estonia 6,534 dollars; Gabon, 3,043, while Nigeria’s Minimum Wage is 59 dollars less than Chad, Gabon, Republic of Congo, etc.
“Even though Nigeria’s National Minimum Wage is one of the lowest in Africa South of the Sahara, some renegades masquerading as politicians have continued to campaign that the Minimum Wage in the Country should be abolished.
“This is very unfortunate because while most Nigerians live below one dollar per day, these politicians loot public funds without qualms, living like oil sheikhs in the midst of poverty,” the Union lamented.
The ASCSN chieftains recalled that the concept of National Minimum Wage was laid by Sir Wiston Churchill when as a Member of Parliament in 1906 he told his fellow lawmakers that:
“It is a national evil that any class of her majesty’s subjects should receive less than a living wage in return for their utmost exertions.”
It added that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) also emphasised the need for countries of the world to guarantee National Minimum Wage for their working population because if employers were allowed to fix wages according to their whims, poor vulnerable workers would not only be further impoverished but would also not be able to continue to engage in productive activities necessary to generate requisite wealth for the sustenance of the entire community.
The Union stressed that since Hon Abdulkadir had lost touch with contemporary global trends, the electorate in his constituency should recall him so that he could devote time to attend to his fish farm in Ibeju, a village near Lekki in Lagos State instead of constituting embarrassment to innocent electorate who sent him to Abuja to represent and not misrepresent them in parliament.
It urged the Trade Union movement, the Civil Society groups and other prominent Nigerians to rise up as usual and prevent Hon Abdulkadir and those who think like him from taking the country ten steps backward by abolishing the National Minimum Wage.