Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Following passing into bill on N30,000 minimum wage and the debate governors on how to pay, the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations, and Government Owned Companies (SSASGOC), has called on both the federal and state governments to cut down the cost of governance especially the money they spend to maintain political appointees to as to pay the new wage.
The labour body also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly assent to the minimum wage Bill to enable workers enjoy the fruits of their labour.
The union further advised government to come up with a new pay package for political appointees, so that the error committed in the past can be rectify in order to move into a new realm.
President General of SSASGOC, Comrade Muhammad Attahiru Yunusa stated this in Benin City, Edo State after a meeting of the union, stressing that the major objective behind the gathering is on the new minimum wage as it affects their members and how they can offer solutions.
“We have been in this profession for decades. Our aims is to provide good welfare for our members. We are public sector union, which means; all governments policies must impact on our members positively. We are all aware about the new minimum wage, and how various state governments have reacted to it. We are aware that some state governors are still insisting that they cannot pay the new minimum wage.
“Our position now is that President Muhammadu Buhari should assent to the new minimum wage Bill before we now know those state governors that cannot pay the money. When it becomes a law, then we will now see which of the governors that cannot pay the fund. We have a template of what we can do to compel those governors to pay the new minimum wage, we will also come out with a communique.
“We use this forum to brainstorm together on what we can do to mitigate or stop such negative opinion by those governors. We are registered with the Federal Ministry of Labour and affiliated to the Trade Union Congress (TUC), We are here in Benin city to hold our organ meeting called the National Administrative Council Meeting. We used the medium to talk about the issues affecting the group and members.
“Our discussion on minimum wage is that all the governments have the capacity to pay the minimum wage. To make it realistic for them to pay the money, they should cut down the cost of governance. For example, the money they used to pay government appointees, like bogus allowances to legislators, special adviser and special assistants in government can be used to fund the minimum wage.
“We have to cut down the cost to encourage those workers that are generating the wealth. As you know, all over the world including Nigeria, workers are the ones creating the wealth. There are some governors who have more than 22 Senior Special Assistants with other loopholes in government. So cutting down government cost will enable them pay the minimum wage. lf you demotivate the workers by not giving them the right salary, they will not be able to put in their best to bring the right productivity.
“We also advised that government should come out with a new pay package for political appointees, so that what had been done in the past can be rectify and move away from it and move into new realm. For example, you can peg a monthly salary of a Senator to be equal to the that of Permanent Secretary as a matter of enacting new law”, Yususa said.
He said the union look forward to the second swearing in of Buhari before it will can know the next line of action to take, adding that as unionists who believe in dialogue and negotiation to achieve their aims “they are not also new to the struggles because when negotiations fail we have other options”.
Commenting about the outcome of the meeting, Comrade Yunusa said the meeting was fruitful as the body has staff and members in all the federal government agencies in Nigeria.
He disclosed that the reports from their various state branched have been favourable so far, noting that at the end of all the assessments, they will come out with good ideas that will shape all their various branches in Nigeria.
Similarly, the National Public Relations Officer of SSASGOC, Comrade Adedayo Francisca Abiodun, said the focus of the meeting is to talk on how to move the association forward, and what it can do to proffer remedy to the present plight.
She said: “We are looking forward to a new Nigeria. We want to see how government at all levels will start operating. How the new minimum wage will commence, will determine our action”.