It has become very imperative for the President of the Federal Republic to call his appointees to order as they have been making some unreasonable statements that are capable of fueling more crisis in the country even at a time, we are battling to address the one at hand. The most recent was made by the Minister of Finance and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed concerning the plans to reduce workers salary. According to her, workers salary is the reason the cost of governance is high. What a Workers Day gift!
To come up with such an idea at a time we are still grappling with the effect of pandemic and millions of people have been rendered jobless for months already is not only preposterous but wicked and, in every shade, ungodly. We are surprised this is coming from a mother. The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, nay Nigerians believe the government knows the right thing to do to cut down the cost of governance; what it actually lacks is the political will to do so. Events of the recent past have shown that workers are not the problem; rather the appointees of government are responsible for the sorry state of the country. They brought every strata of the country to its knee. It is a pity.
May we remind the minister that as at Q4 2020 the unemployment rate stood at 33.3% and it is projected to rise even further in the coming months while the rate of inflation as at March, 2021 stood at 18.17%. The consequential effects of these are that we now have more idle hands capable of going into crime. Also, even the so-called N30, 000 minimum wage which some states are yet to commence payment has been rubbished by the high rate of inflation. It is important to also remind her that there is a law backing National Minimum Wage.
Agreed, it has become very imperative for the government to reduce the cost of governance and that must be done the right way. Time has come for the take home of political office holders to be significantly reduced. The country is paying them for nothing. Our politicians have so much money which is why they can arm thugs (idle youths) to snatch ballot boxes during elections; give bribe, launder money thereby creating scarcity of forex, buy houses abroad and do other despicable things meanwhile someone is busy pushing for a slash of salary of the impoverished workers. This is a clear case of misplaced priority. We are saddened by this.
As the minister of finance, we had expected her ministry to work collaboratively with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to come up with policies that would shape the country economically. Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) have continued to dwindle in the country despite our economic potentials. Investors are discouraged from investing due to insecurity, unfavourable policies or a general lack of a suitable business environment. Maybe she is not aware that Ghana has become a business hob for investors?
Madam Honourable Minister, the organized labour condemns the plan and we say NO to your proposal because we do not deserve such treatment. Maybe we should remind you that some countries are increasing salaries to make life easy for their citizens. We want to also use this opportunity to warn states that have not commenced payment to implement it. We also call on the government to ensure the protection of jobs and reduce the cost of governance by a substantial reduction of salaries of political office holders, starting with the executive, members of the National Assembly, House of Assembly, Chairmen of Local Governments, Councillors and aides to politicians. Sadly, some aides even have aides!
Comrade Quadri A. Olaleye FCIA, MNIM
Comrade (Barr.) Musa-Lawal Ozigi, mni
Secretary General, TUC