Minimum Wage: Civil Servants To Govs: Cut Your Salaries To Pay Us

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Civil servants across the country have asked the state governors to slash their salaries and allowances and those of their appointees to enable them to pay the new minimum wage of N62,000 proposed by the federal government.

The civil servants, who spoke to our correspondents on condition of anonymity, yesterday, slammed the governors for saying they could not afford the proposed wage.

The workers said they would sue the governors should they refuse to implement the new minimum wage when approved by the federal government.

This is as the organised labour also yesterday described the stance of the state governors on the issue as insensitive, wicked and selfish.

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) had, on Friday, stated that state governments could not afford to pay N60,000 as new minimum wage and that some states would end up borrowing to pay workers.

Civil servants speak

In separate interviews with our correspondents yesterday, civil servants across the country expressed surprise at the governors’ position on the new minimum wage.

Kwara

A teacher in Kwara State, who simply identified herself as ‘Madam Dame’, said: “No worker can survive with the present situation. Before the removal of fuel subsidy, we know what Kwara State used to get, which has now risen to over N9 billion monthly in addition to the increased IGR. They (governors) should be able to pay the minimum wage conveniently.”

A staff of the state’s revenue service said, “Just N60,000; the states should be able to pay. This is wickedness in this economic hardship. The labour should continue the strike if the other parties refuse. I spend N30,000 monthly on transportation, it doesn’t make sense.

“Nigerian governors have money and they can pay it. If they insist they can’t, then they should revert the fuel price. The governors should have mercy on Nigerian workers.”

For Mr Nosahare, who works in a ministry in Kwara State, “Governors are just playing with our feelings; they are not ready to do anything for us. They should look at what the citizens are going through in the present circumstance. They should try to tame or control the escalating prices of food and other amenities which are the major problem.”

Enugu

A civil servant in Enugu State, Mrs Nwaka Ogbonne, said state governments should join the federal government and pay the proposed N60,000 minimum wage.

“These days, we even hear that they (the governors) receive times three, what their predecessors were receiving as monthly allocations. So, why shouldn’t they pay the proposed N60,000 minimum wage? They don’t have any genuine reason not to pay, except that a lot of them have decided to be anti-people in their policies,” she said.

Another civil servant in the state, Mr James Nwokporor, said governors should show the political will to complement the federal government’s efforts in ameliorating the suffering of workers.

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“No governor in the present day Nigeria has any reason not to pay the proposed N60,000 minimum wage. But the truth remains that they (the governors) have constituted themselves as a major problem facing the country.

“They should look inwards and diversify the economies of their states; that is assuming, without conceding the fact that the monthly allocations are not enough to carry their wage bills,” he said.

Kaduna

A civil servant in Kaduna said: “We are not happy to hear from the governors that N60,000 as the minimum wage is not sustainable for them, especially considering the increase in federal allocations,” he said.

Abdul reminded the governors that “the next elections are approaching, and workers are aware of what actions to take to effect change in government.

Usmanu, a worker in the Kaduna State judiciary, accused state governors of insincerity, asking “why can’t they reduce the number of their appointees to save more money to pay the workers who do most of the work.”

He emphasized the need for governors to increase their states’ internally generated revenue (IGR) to adequately pay workers’ salaries.

Bayelsa

A staff member of the Bayelsa State Physical Planning Agency, alleged that governors in Nigeria “are real enemies of the masses for rejecting the proposed N60,000 national minimum wage even when the labour union is proposing something higher based on economic realities.”

He said: “This is man’s inhumanity to man, if the removal of fuel subsidy and other subsidies were meant to bring more money to the government, they should use that money to better the lives of the working class by paying them the salary commensurate with the situation in the country.”

A worker with the Bayelsa Students Loans Board asked: “Why are our leaders this wicked? They should put their legs in our shoes and see how it’s difficult to cope with the economic situation in Nigeria. The way governors are going, there may be crisis in this country.

“Look at these governors, check the amounts they voted as security votes alone, not to talk about their feeding. Nigeria is really a very funny country.”

A cleaner in one of the state’s ministries said: “I have put in several years in the state service and people are debating N60,000 as my pay at the end of the month amidst the high cost of things, is that not wickedness?

“Time is coming where no one will be willing to work in the civil service because at the end of 35 years or when you reach 60 years, there will be nothing to show that you worked in your life. Our problem is the governors; at least those working in the federal civil service are a bit better.”

Cross River

A civil servant in Cross River State, who gave his name as Etebong Cobham, alleged that most of the state governors lavished money on frivolities.

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Imo

A civil servant in Imo State, John Njoku, said there would be protests if state governors refused to pay the N60,000 minimum wage; while Mr Alozie Chima said the state chief executives would be sued if they refused.

Plateau

A level 12 worker in Plateau State, Margaret Kumbul said, “Since I joined the civil service about 18 years ago, minimum wage has never helped me. It has rather impoverished us. Anytime we have new minimum wage, there will be higher inflation.

“What we need now is that government should reduce the cost of living. With the current hyper-inflation, even minimum wage of N200,000 will not solve our problem.”

Bauchi

One of the workers in Bauchi State said: “The monthly federal allocation coming to Bauchi State has increased since the removal of fuel subsidy almost a year ago, but nobody is questioning where the huge money is going to.

“The governor is busy buying exotic and expensive vehicles for himself, lawmakers and commissioners; while thousands of workers cannot afford three square meals for their families due to the high cost of living.”

Another worker in the state said: “The powers of governors are a threat to the socio-economic stability of the country. Their position about minimum wage is a manifestation of their heartless disposition.”

Delta

A civil servant in Delta State asked state governors to reduce their own salaries and allowances as well as those of former governors.

“The civil servants are the people dying, not the governors; that is why they are sounding this way. The federal government and the lawmakers should accept the call from the NLC  and the TUC and make it compulsory for all states to pay their workers,” he said.

Adamawa

A civil servant in Adamawa State, Mr Usman Garba, said,  “It’s unconscionable for governors to claim that N60,000 is unrealistic when they receive lavish salaries and benefits. If they insist they cannot afford it, their salaries should be reduced to compensate.

“It’s egregious that special advisers, who merely chant political slogans, earn N200,000 without performing any actual work; while dedicated civil servants like myself, who have risen to director positions, receive only N150,000.”

Another worker in the state, Dr Auwal Magaji Abubakar, described the position of the governors as insensitive, given the rising cost of commodities in the market.

“A bag of rice is about N75,000 and a bag of maize is around N80,000 and a governor is saying he cannot pay N60,000. So, what will he pay? Will N60,000 buy fuel for his car that will last him a week?”

Kogi

A director in Kogi State said unless the federal government releases funds separately for salary payment in respect of the new move, the hope of its implementation seems bleak in many states.

A level 8 officer in the state said: “It is by providence that we, the civil servants, are surviving in the state. For years, some workers are on percentage salaries; promotions are without cash backing and there is abolition of yearly incremental salary payment, including outright stoppage of payment of other allowances, like leave bonus, and monthly imprest.”

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NLC flays governors

In its reaction yesterday, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), in a statement by its Head of Information and Public Affairs, Benson Upah, said it was alarmed by the NGF’s position.

The NLC said the labour believed that the governors had acted in bad faith.

“It is unheard of for such a statement to be issued to the world in the middle of an ongoing negotiation. It is certainly in bad taste,” it said.

The NLC said the increase of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) allocations from N700 billion to N1.2 trillion had made the state governments “extremely rich at the expense of the people.”

“All that the governors need to do to be able to pay a reasonable national minimum wage (not even the N60,000) is cut on the high cost of governance, minimize corruption as well as prioritise the welfare of workers.

“It is important to explain here that a national minimum wage is not synonymous with the different pay structures of different states. The national minimum wage  is the lowest floor below which no employer is allowed to pay.

“The aim is to protect the weak and the poor. We are not fixated with figures but value. Those who argue that moving the national minimum wage from N30,000 to N60,000 is sufficiently good enough miss the point.

“In 2019, when N30,000 became the minimum, N300 exchanged for $1 (effectively making the minimum wage an equivalent of  $100 or thereabout) while inflation rate was 11.40.

“At the moment, the exchange rate is at N1,600 to $1 while inflation hovers at 33.7% (40% for food). This puts the value of the minimum wage at $37.5 for a family of six. This is happening at a time costs of everything rose by more than 400% as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy.

“This is an extreme bad news  for the poor. Government’s policies of fuel subsidy removal, mindless devaluation of the naira, energy tariff hike by 250% and interest rate hike by 26.5% will continue to hurt the economy (especially the manufacturing sector) and the poor.

“Already manifest is the mass incapacity of Nigerians leading to overflowing warehouses of the productive sector of the economy. The downward trend will continue except the capacity of workers and businesses is enhanced.

“Paying a miserable national minimum wage portends grave danger to not only  the workforce but the national economy as in truth, economies  of most states are driven by workers’ wages.

“In light of this, we urge the governors to do a re-think and save the country from a certain death,” the NLC stated.


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