Mining wage

Maximum Minimum Wage: Our Presidential Governor and the Pay of Amputee Workers in Kogi

The minimum wage is a wage below which an employer of labor in a country or area of ​​jurisdiction must not pay wages, in both the public and private sectors, usually defined by law. History is full of struggle for wage increases by the unions, what they always want to be “More.” More money. More bonuses. More allowances”.

The question of how much to pay as minimum wage is not as important as the employer’s ability to pay. Therefore, the matter is still subject to the collective bargaining process between the organized trade union and the employers, their representatives or associations as the case may be. It is therefore incomprehensible that the government accepts and approves a minimum wage and still refuses to pay on the pretext that it does not have the means to pay. The minimum wage issue is very volatile in countries where there is a not so strong economic institution like Nigeria where our macro economy lacks supporting institutions that could help achieve price stability over a relatively long period of time. Rampant inflation is usually the case where an appropriate economic policy is never engaged to prevent or at least slow down the inflation which tends to erode the purchasing power of employees – workers then tend to ask for a revision to the increase in their pay.

The above is why the minimum wage controversy is still at the heart of industrial relations between trade unions, the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the National Labor Bargaining Council. Joint Public Service (JNPSNC-Trade Union Side) and Labor Employers (Government and Private Companies) in Nigeria. It is always a nightmare for the government when these unions threaten or go on strike. The entire nation is generally locked down. This was looming before President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 signed the current national minimum wage law, which sets it at ₦30,000. Suffice it to say that a respite was given to officials, both at the state and federal levels, after the signing. Since the issue of minimum wage is enshrined in the exclusive list of the Nigerian constitution, the question of states and local governments having to domesticate it before its implementation does not arise. At least that was the thought of many. It was therefore shocking to know that some state governors were looking for excuses not to pay especially when one remembers that their representatives were at the negotiating table where the agreement was reached.

Meanwhile, as if that were not enough, the results show that the penultimate minimum wage of ₦18,000 had not yet been implemented by some states in the federation before the latter was enacted (30,000 ₦). Kogi is the most important among the guilty states. This guilt predates the inauguration of Governor Yahaya Bello, under whose rule the cries of “mutilated wages” are allegedly much louder than under any administration in Kogi’s 31 years as a ruler. that state.

Recently, a screenshot of the bank notification of some Kogi State civil servants went viral on social media stating that the account owner has just earned, as monthly salary for February 2022 , an amount as low as ₦2,000. It was clearly labeled “Sal.”, (meaning salary) for the month of February 2022. For heaven’s sake, how could a human residing in Nigeria in this 21st century survive on ₦2,000 in one months, not to mention those with dependents and other responsibilities? I doubt the veracity of the claim that a presidential governor, like Yahaya Bello, might find it appropriate to pay as little as 6.6% of the approved national minimum wage to his employees. There seems to be a maximum wage, within the minimum wage. This is beyond my imagination as there has been no form of official statement from the state government to confirm or deny the claim.

So I had intended to write about the issue (in Kogi State) for a very long time, but first I had to get my facts right; so my discovery of an insider (within the state’s Department of Finance) who couldn’t tell if it was true or not, revealed that some people might have mortgaged their salaries for loans or advances on salary in the past, so the liabilities of these loans have been consolidated into their salary account, which explains the bloody wound on net salary which is sometimes as low as ₦2,000, for a level 13 officer or 14 in the state civil service.

Be that as it may, there is a rule governing the repayment of loans by an employee; the maximum deduction from the salary of such a person is 45% of all that he earns per month. Unless you tell me that the ₦2,000 in the screenshot circulating on social media is 55% of the owner’s monthly salary, which is well below the national minimum wage. This would violate the minimum wage law anyway.

Either way, I think it’s high time our “Presidential Governor” (Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello) came clean and explained to the world what a maximum-minimum salary looks like and the yet-to-be-debunked history of the “cut salary”. being paid civil servants in Kogi State. If not for nothing, at least for the sake of “our next project” – the presidential ambition of 2023. I resisted the urge to join the bandwagon of Thomases who do not believe that what happened in the November 2015 gubernatorial election in Kogi State could happen in the next presidential election. No pun intended and no disrespect to the sensibilities of the late Prince Abubakar Audu’s family, nor do I intend to take credit for the sequence of events that culminated in what Bello was deemed eligible to inherit the APC votes in the “inconclusive” election, in which the presumed winner (Prince Abubakar Audu) died while the collation of results was still in progress. But be aware that in assessing his presidential ability, Nigerians would compare him to what he has done in the previous eight or seven years. And the well-being of workers will most certainly be among the most important parameters that will be taken into account.

It’s either Bello, his Information and Communications Commissioner, Kingsley Fanwo, or whoever is appointed for that purpose who comes to explain, with verifiable evidence, the government’s position on this ugly and insidiously trending story on the misery that his administration would have subjected to civilian life. servants in the state of.

It is instructive to note that when Governor Yahaya Bello took office, he had a responsibility to demonstrate to the world what was lacking in Nigeria in terms of the ability to deliver, by not having the demographic group he represents – young people, about 40 years old. years, in government so that the dynamism that accompanies their youth can be channeled into recalibrating the Nigerian socio-economic structure so that it remains competitive among the committee of nations. It is therefore disheartening that in all the indices of governance as it affects the welfare of the people and even of the officials around them, there have been stories of misery. Retirees are no better off. He was accused of arbitrarily stopping certain people’s pensions during his never-ending screening exercise that turned out to be the most remembered project (albeit for negative reasons) his administration had ever undertaken. Some who have taken the step (of screening) see their pension amputated. A very close relative of mine was denied his pension during the first six years of governorship. When she was finally cleared, no one talking about her arrears, they paid her 25% of her monthly entitlement, which is no less irregular than the salaries of those still on active duty. It was so horrifying that an electoral abracadabra in the color of “Taratatatataaaaataaaa” (whatever that means) political philosophy had to be deployed before his second term could be secured. Not surprising.

I don’t envy whoever succeeds Bello in January 2024 because there has been a lot of political baggage (call it landmines, if you will) that requires some political savvy to manage. Otherwise, the successor could be the one who pays the political price. All in all, I sincerely believe that the people of Kogi, especially the civil servants, deserve more and better than what they get from the state government.

Abubakar writes from Ilorin. He can be reached at 08051388285 or [email protected]