Joseph Inokotong, Abuja
A cross section of Nigerians resident in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have expressed divergent views on the Senate’s passage of the N30,000 minimum wage.
While some showered praises on the upper legislative chamber for a job well done, others expressed fear on its implementation, pointing out that many workers might be left out as some Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), states and local governments in the country might not be able to pay their workers.
Some civil servants, employers of labour and others lauded the Senate’s action and prayed for its quick implementation, when eventually transmitted to President Buhari for his assent.
A civil servant, Mr. Akeem Taiwo commended the passage of the bill after intensive negotiations by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), stakeholders and the Federal Government.
He said the progress made by the Senate was what Nigerians workers had been yearning for, and it would enhance the productivity of the workers, which, in turn, would boost economic development of the country.
For Mrs. Oluwakemi Dare, a staff of an aluminum firm in the FCT, the Senate has done the right thing by approving the minimum wage, but she expressed worries on her benefitting from the exercise as it was not certain if some Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) would pay their workers as their counterparts at federal level.
“Minimum wage for the suffering Nigerian workers is long overdue. My concern is whether some of us in the private sector would be paid like those working in the federal civil service.
“But from the look of things, it seems that it may not be feasible because many SMEs in Nigeria are struggling to make ends meet. Those working in the multinational companies and other big organisations may be the ones to enjoy”, said Mrs. Dare.
A proprietor of ‘Pure Water’ enterprises, Mr. Akpan Udoekong, viewed the issue of minimum wage from another perspective, although he agreed that Nigerian workers deserve decent living wage.
Udoekong advised that no employer of labour should be compelled to pay his/her workers what the company cannot afford as any attempt to force it down their throats operators may result in job losses.
“In my company, before anybody starts work, a letter of appointment is given, stating the employees’ salary. If the person is not satisfied with the offer, he/she is at liberty to turn it down. The issue of minimum wage may not be applicable to us, because we pay what we can afford”, said Udoekong. He stated that government should do more to encourage people to set up private businesses that would open employment opportunities for the hordes of unemployed Nigerians roaming the street for the elusive job.
Alhaji Abdul Usman, an entrepreneur, said Nigerian workers have suffered a lot and deserve pay that can meet their basic needs, even if they are either civil servants or workers in the private sector. He lauded the Senate for toeing the same path with the House of Representatives and urged the federal government to ensure that all Nigerian workers benefit from it.
“The Federal Government must do everything within its powers to ensure that all workers are beneficiaries, notwithstanding if one works for the federal, states or local governments. Those in the private sector should not be left out because everybody is buying from the same market.
“I am waiting to see how the N30,000.000 minimum wage would be evenly implemented across all strata of the labour market,” said Alhaji Usman.