Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former Vice- President on Monday said the current N18,000 minimum wage currently being paid to workers by the federal government is not only ill-motivating but embarrassing .
In his May Day message to Nigerian workers, Atiku, who is a presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) noted that Nigerian workers are going through the most trying economic times in Nigeria’s history.
The statement reads in full “Nigerian workers, I congratulate you for this day. I salute your courage and resilience going through one of the most trying economic times in Nigeria’s history. But these challenges are showing how resilient and hardworking Nigerians are and that your indomitable spirit and work ethic will continue to go unchallenged throughout all of Africa.
These values have been the bedrock of Nigeria’s labour movement since its beginning. A movement which started off to protect the welfare of railways workers and later coal miners in the days of colonial administrations in Nigeria. A movement that has grown in height and status as the single largest rights protection organization, representing not less than sixty million workers in our country.
Owing to the sheer size of its membership, the labour movements in Nigeria – under the umbrellas of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress – have evolved to become the pivot of governments’ objectives of delivering good governance and providing higher standard of living.
Over the years, our labour movements have negotiated higher wage regimes for the Nigerian worker and it (labour) has remained a key component in the consideration for how much Nigerians pay on fuel and energy consumption. These are noble ideals that have ensured that Nigerians have more disposable income – an important safeguard for the kick-start of a prosperous economy.
Having been in government at a high level and being a private sector player with thousands of Nigerians on the payroll of my companies mean that I have seen first-hand the needs of workers both in the private and public sectors and the importance of the labour movement. But as I have stated throughout my adult life, true federalism and a proper decentralization of resources and functions away from the government at the center to the governments at the state tier of our governmental structure is key to providing the labour force what they need and deserve. I believe that our federal government will become smarter when it is smaller and more flexible in addressing the needs of our labour force.
But we must have tangible solutions to address the needs of our incredible and talented labour force. Let’s engage our leaders on the following:
1. Minimum wage: It is my firm belief that whoever works should be adequately rewarded. The reward of a service well rendered is a reasonable wage that can keep the earner sensibly motivated to put in his best. The minimum wage of ₦18,000 per month (less than $50), as is currently obtained in the country, considering the current economic reality is not only ill-motivating but embarrassing.