Minimum Wage: A Call for State Governors to Act Responsibly or Resign Honourably

The ongoing controversy surrounding the minimum wage has highlighted a critical issue: the lack of sensitivity among state governors toward the plight of workers in their respective states. This insensitivity is evident in various aspects of their governance and financial management, raising questions about their commitment to the welfare of their citizens.

State governors across Nigeria have demonstrated a lack of empathy for the struggles of the average worker. Despite the rising cost of living and the financial difficulties faced by many families, several governors have resisted implementing a fair minimum wage. This resistance is particularly troubling given the substantial increments in federal monthly allocations they receive. The question remains: how do these governors justify their stance on the minimum wage when their states receive increased financial support from the Federal Government?

 

One glaring issue is the wasteful spending by state governments. Reports have shown that the amount of money spent on refreshments, traveling and other in-house recurrent expenditures by the governors is approaching a trillion naira in just 3 months. This extravagance is indefensible, especially when juxtaposed with the financial struggles of workers who are unable to make ends meet on their current salaries. The misuse of public funds for non-essential purposes while denying workers a living wage is a severe indictment of the priorities of these state administrations.

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As the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Governor Abdulrahman has a significant role to play in addressing this crisis. Notwithstanding that I doubt his leadership capacity it is however incumbent upon him to lead by example and ensure that other governors follow suit in prioritizing the welfare of workers. His leadership should focus on promoting a collaborative approach to resolving the minimum wage issue, ensuring that all governors recognize the importance of providing a sustainable and fair wage for their workers.

 

Kwara State serves as a stark example of the contradictions in state policies regarding the minimum wage. While the state government claims that a 60,000 naira minimum wage is unsustainable, it simultaneously sponsored hundreds of people to the Hajj pilgrimage at a cost of 8 million naira each. This discrepancy shows a misalignment of priorities and a failure to allocate resources effectively to support the welfare of workers.

 

Contrary to the claims of unsustainability by some governors, states like Edo, Lagos, and Oyo have taken commendable steps. Edo is currently paying a minimum wage of 70,000 naira, Lagos pays 65,000 naira owing to its wage award, and Oyo pays 55,000 naira respectively. These states provide tangible examples that a higher minimum wage is achievable and sustainable with proper financial management and prioritization.

 

A critical examination of the financial decisions made by many governors reveals a pattern of mismanagement. The decision to embark on extensive loans and bonds without considering future financial implications raises concerns about their foresight and planning. Did these governors not anticipate the financial burden that would come with repaying these loans? The lack of strategic financial planning has contributed to the current crisis and it is imperative that they reassess their fiscal policies.

It is crucial to address the broader context of financial mismanagement and corruption in the country. Those who divert public resources meant for hospitals, schools, and other social amenities engage in foreign exchange round-tripping, pad budgets, and inflate contracts with poor Execution are the true economic saboteurs. The theft of trillions of naira under the guise of subsidies and other corrupt practices amounts to treasonable offenses against the nation. These actions undermine economic stability and the ability of governments to meet the basic needs of the citizens.

 

The current stance of the NGF on the minimum wage issue requires urgent review. State governors must align their policies with the Federal Government to ensure a unified approach to resolving this crisis. This matter transcends political affiliations and is fundamentally about the responsible governance of those entrusted with the welfare of the people.

Labour unions have recently exposed the role of state governors in sabotaging negotiations with the Federal Government. This revelation calls for the need for transparency and accountability in governance. It is essential for governors to engage in good-faith negotiations and work collaboratively to achieve a resolution that benefits all workers.

 

The examples set by states like Edo, Lagos, and Oyo provide a roadmap for what can be achieved with proper governance. The time has come for all state governors to act responsibly and ensure that the minimum wage issue is resolved in a manner that promotes the welfare of all Nigerian workers.

Gov Abdulrahman Abdukrazak must as a matter of urgency learn the right approach to leadership and administrative dispensation even if he’s not blessed with such traits, what could one call a governor who focuses on the criticisms against his demonstration than his statutory duty of administering right governance. It’s so laughable that my honest admonition of his lagging roles in the negotiation of the minimum wage has hurt his ego to the extent of ordering a rejoinder to be authored to further deceive the people in his usual pseudo-saint attitude.

 

I don’t want to be assertive, but I must say I have never come across a “Bashir” who is not intelligent until this night when a particular Bashir Adigun authored a disjointed rejoinder to my earlier piece. I think Adigun has been quarantined over the years in the State for him to have positioned a whole me as a faceless and pseudo writer, this clearly shows how unconversant he is with the happenings in the State. I will advise that when next Adigun writes about me, it will do him more good to consult those around such as the spokespersons of the government who truly know me, I am not faceless, I am physical and I am still on most of the active WhatsApp platforms in the State. Not residing in Kwara doesn’t translate as not being abreast of the happening in Kwara.

 

ABDULYEKEEN Mohd Bashir, a Kwara-born political analyst, writes from Cocoa House, Ibadan.

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