James Sowole in Akure
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday demanded downward review of emoluments of members of the state and national assemblies as well as other public office holders to enable the government meet the implementation of new minimum wage for workers in the country in 2017.
The umbrella body of the Nigerian workers also called for the provision of incentives to make agriculture attractive to young graduates in the country as one of the ways to stem the rising rate of unemployment.
The Chairman of NLC, Ondo State chapter, Bosede Daramola, made the call in Akure at an end of the year forum organised by the state branch of the Agriculture and Allied Employees’ Union of Nigeria (AAEUN).
The NLC and TUC had on May 1, jointly proposed N56,000 as new national minimum wage. Worried by the state of the country’s economy and the high cost of living, the President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, had challenged President Munammadu Buhari not to jettison the increment in minimum wages from N18, 000, saying: “This is the logic used by United State to address recession.”
According to Daramola, the current minimum wage of N18,000 can no longer sustain workers in view of the rising cost of essential commodities in the market occasioned by the economic recession and daily falling of the naira’s value against dollars.
She said since workers and public office holders go to the same markets but collect hugely different salaries, there was a need to cut the take home of the ministers, commissioners, federal and state lawmakers.
Daramola also called for the blocking of wastages in government spending to allow federal and state governments save enough money for the payment of the new minimum wage for its employees.
On the situation where majority of the state governments can’t pay the current minimum wage, the Ondo State Labour leader insisted that the upward review of minimum wage was a legal matter which must be followed irrespective of the economic status of the country.
Also at the forum, the state Chairman of the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC),Sunday Adeleye, and the state Chairman of AAEUN, Moses Adeusi, commended the special attention President Buhari’s administration was giving to agriculture sector, but expressed reservation over the inability of the government to devise policies that could take the nation out of the current economic recession. Adeleye and Adeusi noted that the harsh economic situation was having double effects on workers who were not paid regularly and adequately, adding that mechanised farming should be given priority by government to encourage young people to go into the sector.