50 years after the famed Udoji Award President Bola Tinubu promises to review salaries and allowances as Nigerian workers go on strike from next Wednesday
Nigerian President Bola Tinubu expressed his administration’s readiness to review the present N30,000 ($64) monthly minimum wage to be in tandem with current global realities, following a meeting with state governors in Abuja, Friday.
The National Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) called for a workers strike from next Wednesday following the abrupt removal of fuel subsidy by the Tinubu administration.
The scrap led to fuel price increase leading to a sharp rise in transport fares and Estonian ride-hailing and food delivery startup Bolt said it had hiked its prices in Nigeria, citing increased operating costs due to higher fuel prices.
The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics says 63% of people living in Nigeria are poor while the World Bank said in a report last year that as many as four in 10 Nigerians live below the national poverty line.
Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) president Joe Ajaero, after an emergency meeting of the union’s executive council in Abuja, said the state oil company NNPC should reverse the price hike.
“The Nigeria Labour Congress decided that if by Wednesday next week that NNPC, a private limited liability company that illegally announced a price regime in the oil sector, refuses to revert itself for negotiations to continue, that the Nigeria Labour Congress and all its affiliates will withdraw their services and commence protests nationwide until this is complied with,” Ajaero said.
“We need to do some arithmetic and soul searching on the minimum wage. We will have to take a look at that together, and the revenue. We must strengthen the source and application of our revenue.’’ The Nigerian president stated.
Tinubu urged the governors to seize the opportunity of being chosen among millions of citizens in their states to make a difference in the lives of people, adding that he will work for the benefit of Nigerians.
According to him: “This meeting is not strange to me, and the content of the meeting is so valuable. The camaraderie is very stimulating. This is about the Nigerian project, not Bola Tinubu”.
The President said the multiple exchange rates will be streamlined, noting that governance was a continuum.
“I have inherited the assets and liabilities of my predecessor. This is the first time you entered the Council Chambers, and it is my first time too for a meeting.
“As progressives and thinkers under the umbrella of the All Progressives Congress (APC), you have a role to play in educating our people and making sure we manage ourselves,’’ the President told the governors.
President Tinubu said it was a good and encouraging sign that the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) has a majority in the National Assembly and some Houses of Assembly, which will make it easier to develop policies that will directly impact the economy and the people.
Vice President Kashim Shettima, in his remarks, called on the governors to rally around the President as he tackles the challenges that stagnate the economy, like the oil subsidy and multiple exchange rates.
“Let us rally around the President and not bulge, there are vested interests that may want to resist the subsidy removal. Its removal will free resources for the development of your states,” he added.
The APC governors backed the federal government’s decision to remove petrol subsidy but expressed concern over the sudden hike in petrol prices following the president’s inaugural speech.
“FG is virtually broke. Apart from its N77 trillion debt, it also owes the NNPC Limited about N2.4trillion for past subsidies.” Bayo Onanuga Tinubu’s media campaign adviser tweeted.
“The Nigerian people and workers should support the government as it works out new wages and rolls out other interventions, as promised by President Tinubu, to mitigate the effects of new fuel price.” Onanuga pleaded in a tweet.
While Nigerians feel the brunt of N600 a litre fuel and N755 to $1 on the parallel exchange market it is still not known if the review of the minimum wage will be across board.
In 1974, the then military administration of General Yakubu Gowon approved the Udoji Commission salary review recommendations after a year and made payments including a year worth of arrears.
The late Professor Sam Aluko, the famous economist who was a teacher at the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), criticised Gowon for taking a wrong decision which impact would be more apparent in the future. He said the 100 percent across-the-board salary increment would only encourage Nigerians to consume more and more.
“As a developing economy, what we need is to produce more and not consume more.” He said.
Akowe with reports from Abuja