Adaramodu: National Assembly Will Ensure All Employers Adhere to Minimum Wage Law

Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Adeyemi Adaramodu, who is representing Ekiti South Senatorial District in the National Assembly, speaks on various national issues. Sunday Aborisade provides the excerpts

What is your assessment of 25 years of uninterrupted democracy in Nigeria?

This is the first time in the history of this very most popular black African country, Nigeria, that we are having 25 years of uninterrupted democratic experience, though we still say that it’s growing. Democracy is not a revolution; it is an evolution. So a revolution is where you expect the result immediately. This is because in an evolution, you grow, you evolve. You have where you fall, you have where you grow, you have where you goof, you have where you get it right. But so far, we are getting it right because we have been having party to another party handing over. There are times we have a complaint about the conduct of elections. At times we do not want to go by the results of the elections. But because our democracy is just evolving, like I said, surely whoever goes into an election wants to win. And if he doesn’t win or she doesn’t win, he will likely point the blame on one factor or the other. We have always been aggrieved among ourselves, especially the politicians. Even after elections, we go to courts, we go to tribunals, we always settle at the end of the day. So, democracy is growing in Nigeria. 

How well have Nigerians enjoyed the dividends of democracy?

The dividends of democracy are trickling in to various constituencies of Nigeria although people are still complaining. We believe that the political leadership too, they have heard and they are hearing always and every day from Nigerians what they want, what they need, how they want their lives to be shaped and reshaped. Those of us who are in the leadership, we are taking the message of instructions and advices and at times complaints to the executive.

The 10th National Assembly has marked its first year in office. Do you think the 10th Senate lived up to the expectations of Nigerians?

We always brand ourselves as the uncommon 10th Senate of the National Assembly under an uncommon leadership of Senator Godswill Akpabio. We have been doing well and we have been representing our constituents very well. You know that we have three-pronged faceted roles to play. One, is to make laws; second is to do oversight over the judiciary and the executive arms of government and thirdly, we advocate on behalf of our constituents. We also go back to them, get feedback from them, and take it back to the central, which is the National Assembly. It is either we bring it up as a form of petition, a form of motion, or in form of bill which can be passed into law. There are areas where we think we can still do better and where we can still do better is our oversight. 

In terms of oversight, are you satisfied with the performance of the 2024 budget performance so far what are you doing to ensure its effective implementation?

We know that 2024 budget was the first budget that the 10th Senate or the 10th National Assembly will fully participate in and know that the appropriation process was done by us. Definitely, the lifespan of the 2023 budget was extended to June this year. So, the full implementation of the 2024 budget, which started in January, the full implementation will start running as from June. I can assure you that the 10th Senate, by extension the 10th National Assembly will not be found wanting to ensure that every kobo that is appropriated in the 2024 budget is spent according to what is budgeted for within the budget. We are going to make sure that we put the feet of the other arms of government on that front burner, let me call it fire, and make sure that we get results. If it is for the executive to get water out of stone, so be it, because Nigerians and we too cannot wait any longer to get things done and get the dividends of democracy. We will make sure that all the promises of government are fulfilled to the citizenry of Nigeria.

In terms of lawmaking, Nigerians seems not to be feeling your impacts yet. What are your constraints?

When we talk of lawmaking, we have not been found wanting. So, within the time that we have been there, 365 calendar days.  It’s not every day that we are in the chamber for the plenary. We should have time for oversight functions. During the period that we are in the plenary, we have been able to work on 470 bills. We have been able to put 45 of them into bills that have become laws. We have been able to do not less than 120 resolutions, through motions, moved by senators at the plenary. We have been able to even commit for second reading to various committees, not less than 45 bills that we are expecting results. Then we have not less than 237 other bills that had been read for first reading, which will go for second reading when we resume after Sallah break. So, we have been able to do all those things and we have been able to intervene at times, even when it was very pertinent that we have to come down on various sectors of the polity. Even liberal issue, we have been able to intervene. When the petroleum resources matter came up after the removal of subsidy, we have been able to come out to intervene and various other aspects of what we can do to make life very, very convenient for Nigerians. Then not only that one, from the Senate’s view, we have been able to screen, to confirm, nothing less than 241 nominees from the executive. 

So we have been able to move in order to ensure that the security of citizens of Nigeria are safeguarded by intervening, advocating with the security shifts of Nigeria and today we will see that.

Nigerians’ lives, property and even means of livelihood are still under threat of bandits and other criminals. What has the Senate done about that in the last one year?

We are having a better deal from the security forces of Nigeria because, yes, we still have this situation of banditry terrorism, Boko Haram, and so on, but it is not as very escalating as it was before we came in to the National Assembly. We have been able to assist the executive to put this under check to a certain extent and we have just started. We have spent only one quarter of the time that we are supposed to have at the 10th Senate and the 10th National Assembly. I know that by the time we are 50 per cent there will be massive improvement. If we had done not less than 475 bills, it means that by the time, we would be two years in office we will know how many bills we would have done. The bills that we are even dealing with in the National Assembly, they are life-saving bills. They are not just legal bills, they are not personal bills, they are not bills that are for only our consultancy. They are bills that can make life more abundant for Nigerian citizens. 

Nigerians believe that the parliament, in the last 25 years has not been able to assert its independence. What is responsible for this?

We always elect our presiding officers the first day that we are inaugurated. The Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Whoever that wants to preside over us will show up and then we evaluate that person. We will look at that person. If it is that, the villa will determine, definitely nobody needs to have interest; nobody needs to lobby colleagues. Nobody needs to move around to anywhere, to houses, to offices, to constituencies of colleagues if the villa has that power. So definitely the villa has got nothing to do. The villa has no hand in whoever becomes the leader of either the senate president, the deputy senate president, the leader and all other principal officers of the National Assembly. In fact, when we are even talking about leader, the position of leader or minority leader, political parties decide it.

Will the Minimum Wage Bill enjoy accelerated consideration whenever the proposed legislation is submitted to the National Assembly?

Yes, we are going to pass it because it is for the benefit of Nigerian workers.

In 48 hours or 24, any timeline?

Even if it is possible within 30 minutes, we will do that. So it depends on the content of the bill. Because the bill will go through the crucibles of passage of a bill. So, we are not going to sit down and just say, oh, the bill has been passed. It will go through the crucibles within the time, if there are no oppositions from outside, if there are no oppositions from within, there can never be opposition from within, because it’s going to be a kind of agreement between labour, government and the organised private sector. So, once that one is there, and it comes to us, we will definitely go through the processes without delay and make sure that Nigerian workers get their deal. 

Is the Senate going to consider the capacity of some state governments to pay before legislating on the minimum wage bill?

Since they are all meeting, we know that at the end of the day, they will all agree on the figure. When it is an executive bill, it means that the state executive and federal executive, even local executive have inputs. Definitely, there has got to be an agreement. Once there is an agreement, the bill will come and I don’t think any of the components of the negotiating bodies will oppose it.

Any possible sanction against defaulting state governments?

When the bill comes, with our own experience and even our own concern that made the National Assembly to intervene, we are going to do a watertight bill that we are proposing that the President will sign into law to ensure that it is strictly adhered to as a law. Once it becomes law, we are going to make it watertight. Don’t let us just speculate what are going to be the ingredients that the federal government will be putting into the executive bill to be submitted to the National Assembly but when it comes whatever is there and whatever is not there we are going to ensure that it’s going to be watertight that it’s going to be obeyed by all. The National Assembly is going to make this law seriously watertight that either the State, national or organised private sector that is not compliant will be sanctioned. The National Assembly is to make laws for Nigeria. 

 What kind of sanction is that? 

When the bill comes, when the executive bill comes, we sit down in the chamber, and we are going to invite not only legislators to talk about it, the organised labour too, before making the law. When that time comes, then definitely we will all decide what is going to be the sanction for whoever is not complying with the law. This is because we believe that at the end of the day, the committee that is meeting over it will arrive at a very acceptable minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

Will the Senate support the ongoing agitations for a six-year single term for the president and return to regionalism in Nigeria? 

The Senate has no opinion. The Senate is just a centre to aggregate the opinions of Nigerians. So, when they come from towns, villages, hamlets, metropolitan, regions, and the states and say that this is what they want, we will aggregate it, that’s where we go. The Senate has no opinion about it. Senate is just a center to aggregate the opinions of Nigerians. So that’s the way it is. If anything will come into the constitution or into the law of the land, it must come to the National Assembly. So let them find the means of bringing it to the National Assembly so that we can make it a national debate whereby everybody will talk, everybody will contribute, then we can now aggregate. It is going to be very obvious, media will be there, it’s going to be very obvious that this is where Nigerians want Nigeria to go. Definitely, by that time, Senate will not be able to say no because Senate will not have its own opinion because we are there to represent the people. I am not representing Abuja. I have not just come to Abuja on my own volition. 

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