Minimum Wage, Maximum Rage

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Canticles….By Eddy Odivwri

The Federal Government is about shutting down again and it calls for serious concern to discerning and patriotic Nigerians.

Why would there be a shut down?

Are you not hearing of the threat to go on full strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)?

Let them go. We are tired of their daily threats. Are they not Nigerians? Are they not seeing how the economy is wobbling? Where is the patriotism expected of them? Haba!

Don’t talk like that. Don’t you know the civil service is the engine of the government?

What kind of engine? This push-and-start engine?

They just want all the income of government to be spent on them. Which responsible government anywhere in the world will take that?

Do you realize that out of the N10.3 trillion budget of the federal government, N3.8 trillion is going for salaries and emoluments? That is 76% of the budget. It is just a measly 24% of the budget that will be devoted to capital projects. How does a country grow like that?

But how can a realistic government that wants the best of service delivery be arguing about N30,000 minimum wage? Is that right? How many people can really live with less than $100 a month?

Don’t miss the argument. Government has already begun the implementation of the minimum wage for levels 1 to 7. What is being argued now is the percentage increase for higher cadres of the civil service, otherwise called consequential adjustment. What the Labour is asking for is unrealistic. A figure that will swallow the entire budget. They are as unfair as it is unpatriotic. Yet they will not support a cut in work force. Do they want government to seek loan to pay staff salaries?

Why are you demonizing the poor workers?

Are they not part of the same society with the bourgeois lawmakers? Do their wives not shop in the same market? Why are you demanding this so-called patriotism and sacrifice only from the common workers? Why are the national lawmakers not part of that sacrifice? Are the Nigerian workers more Nigerian than the fat cats in the National Assembly?

Pray, did you not hear that Mr President is going to spend N1.5 billion to upgrade his plane this year? Upgrade, remember!

Did you not hear that Mr President and his Vice have scheduled to spend the sum of N3.3 billion on local and foreign trips next year? Are these the expenses profile of people who are making sacrifices?

Look, let me tell you, what is good for the goose is good for the ganders. Haba!

You forget that their roles differ. Do you know many of the workers you are defending are a bunch of lousy and indolent folks, many of whom spend most of their official hours watching Zee World, Telemundo and African Magic, after which they have their lunch and go home, after they have hidden some contractors’ files? Are these the category of people that the treasury should be shut down for?

You are taking the exceptions for the rule. Many of the civil servants are a dedicated workforce that actually run the policies of government. so you cannot dismiss them with such parochial and biased assessment.

The state of the Nigerian affair is a direct coefficient of how well the civil service has been running the policies of government. If you ask me, they are the very ones ruining the policies of government. And that is why we are as we are: stagnant. Yet, they are super rich, at the expense of the ordinary people, whom they pretend to be serving. (in hushed tone) Or how else can we explain how the former female Civil Service chief, could amass the whopping sums linked to her which have been ordered forfeited to the Federal Government? And tomorrow, such ones will be agitating for pay rise, right?

Look, two wrongs don’t make a right. Government should do what is right. Let them harmonise all the twelve different pay structures in the country . How can a Third Class officer earn 300 times more than a First Class personnel simply because the one works in Customs or NIMASA or FIRS while the other earns pittance because he works in Ministry of Establishment. Is it fair? Where is the ethos of reward for hardwork and brilliance?

Go and tell them in government that consequential or no consequential, Nigerian workers are ready for maximum rage over this minimum wage brouhaha. Enough is enough!