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June 25, 2024
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Minimum wage: Indefinite Strike in order, N60,000 FG offer pathetically humiliating —Femi Emodamori backs labour

IN SOLIDARITY WITH STRIKING NIGERIAN WORKERS: A PRESS STATEMENT BY BARR. FEMI EMMANUEL EMODAMORI

In August 2023, I published a statement which was widely reported on local and international platforms, that paying the Nigerian workers any minimum wage less than N120,000 per month is tantamount to treating them worse than the Nigerian prisoners, each of whom the Government claims to be feeding with N1,000 daily since 2021, following the approval by the Senate Committee on Interior on October 27, 2021 to increase the daily feeding allowance of each of the inmates from N450 to N1,000.

My simple analogy is that if a prisoner who pays no rent, transport fare, medical bills and other utilities is fed with N1000 daily, then a man with a wife and just two children would need N4,000 daily (translating to N120,000 monthly) to feed his family the same portion or ration given to the prisoners.

This excludes other necessary bills which the worker must contend with, like rent (accommodation), transportation, other numerous utilities, and the education of his children. Article 23(3) of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights expressly provides that: “Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by means of social protection.” Every worker therefore deserves a decent wage.

I am not oblivious of the current economic challenges foisted on the nation by a seemingly hereditary culture of incompetence and kleptomania amongst the political leaders, and the fact that the current administration inherited the bulk of the resultant effects of these monstrous vices.

Nevertheless, the N60,000 minimum wage offer by the Federal Government
is pathetically humiliating. It is nothing other than perpetuation of servitude.
No worker can live any meaningful life with that. It translates to just $43.

There are numerous other African Countries that pay at least three times
higher than the N60,000. Seychelles pays $456 (N638,400), Libya pays $322 (about N450,000); Morocco pays $315 (about N441,000); Gabon is paying $256 (about N358, 400); South Africa is paying $242 (about N338,000), Mauritius is paying $240 (about N336,000) and Equatorial Guinea is paying $200 (about N280,000).

I do not subscribe to the simplistic argument that paying our workers a
meager minimum wage of at least N120,000 would lead to massive inflation and economic chaos. If the hundreds of billions which our fantastically corrupt politicians and top civil servants (to borrow the words of David Cameron- the former British Prime Minister) are stealing and spending on non-productive ventures like porsche cars, jewelries and flamboyant parties does not lead to inflation, paying a minimum wage of N120,000 to the economically suffocated workers would not, either.

I therefore join the millions of our distressed, disrespected and disenchanted Nigerian workers to reject the N60,000 minimum wage being offered by the Government. I also express my solidarity with the Nigerian workers over the on-going strike.

While the parties must resume dialogue and consider the need to temporarily call off the strike to allow for negotiations, it would be a monumental mistake for the workers to completely call off the strike without achieving any tangible result. The strike would occasion some serious pain. But without the pain, there would be no gain.

E-signed:
Femi Emmanuel Emodamori
(An Akure based Lawyer)
(June 3, 2024)

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