The NLC, especially at the levels of their leadership, are co-builders and co-designers of this current remuneration order.
The leaders of the Nigeria Labor Congress, the NLC, must be a mysterious pack. They are mysterious at least in their operating philosophy and logic. Otherwise, it is difficult to understand how they will want the minimum wage of workers jacked up a penny more. And this at this hour.
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On the face of it, it is clear that the current minimum wage of 18 thousand naira or so, is not adequate for all practical purposes. But that is not all the story there is to it. That is not the whole story of how we came to this remunerative straits.
To understand the error of asking for a new minimum wage, especially at this hour, a little recourse to details may be helpful. First of all, the NLC is pushing for its demand for salary increase on a false framework. That framework is that the workers represented by the NLC, which is controlled by its powerful champagne lords, are victims of the system. This is not exactly correct. Fact is that the NLC, especially at the levels of their leadership, are co-builders and co-designers of this current remuneration order.
To explain, then this. According to the NLC the absurdity of the Nigerian salary reward system is suggested by this. It is that the Nigerian elite – read politicians – are in unity when recommending a common salary for themselves across the nation. And this as the NLC tells is without ‘’caveats’’ as to the specific solvency circumstances of each state or local government. Thus in the thesis of NLC, the rich and the powerful are in common agreement and collusion to deny to workers what they, the elite, have granted to themselves.
That fact is true, but is surface deep. The detailed truth is that the current wages and emoluments of the politicians were not negotiated by them. The politicians and or political order just like the NLC and the national work force are joint-heirs and beneficiaries to this order. In fact the NLC and thus the workers she represents, were just not heirs, they were authors and finishers of this present order of remunerative darkness.
Lest we forget, what happened is as follows. The military misadventurers, aka coup makers, were in joyful even if nationalistic unknowing. They allowed themselves to be wrongly briefed that ‘’uniformity’’ is the same thing as unity. In their unknowing, if the worker in Sokoto earned the same kobo with his equivalent in Eket, then they are united. So the coup makers leveled everything and made Nigeria, largely, a brazenly garrisoned camp. And Nigeria was garrisoned by nationalistic ignorance and armed howitzers.
The salient point here, is that in those days there was the NLC or its other incarnations. The salient point again is that in those days the civilian politicians never existed, at least not in their current form. And wait for this, what happened is that the NLC or its “heritage” bodies supported the remunerative brigandage of the coup makers. The NLC allowed and persuaded itself and those she represents, to latch on the coattails of the military to reap a uniform salary and remunerative scale. Thus, the NLC by lending and benefiting itself and workers to the unsustainable errors of uniformity of salaries, despite solvency differences, cannot now be feeling betrayed. The NLC by the way did not play in earnest or in equity or with clean hands. To put it kindly, the NLC met a crime scene and turned themselves into fellow robbers. And this by the way is a typical Nigerian thing. Ahiazuwa.
In other words, the NLC as it is today, is a collaborator and co-heir with the military which adventured into Nigerian political economy to destroy it. This is especially so since the NLC did not as it should have, directed the mind of the military that equal pay over unequal revenues and incomes is not a sustainable delusion. But it pleased the NLC to take short term benefits for itself at the cost of long term ruin for the national collective.
Therefore, the NLC cannot come to the negotiating table accusing the politicians of this and that. No, both the NLC and the politicians are beneficiaries of the banditry and apolitical unknowing of the coup makers. In fact we repeat the NLC were co-builders of this order.
The more salient point is that in other countries, say United Kingdom, the NLC or its equivalents, are not just about salaries and emoluments. They also run and maintain think tanks. It is these think tanks that help guide workers safely across the minefields of mistaking their careers, aka salary increase, towards the safety of sustainable economic wellbeing for all, including themselves. In other words, the NLC should have been in the forefront of those advising the coup makers – or at least stating it for the records – that salaries across economically variant jurisdictions should not be uniform. And there are no such records to the credit of the NLC and or its leaderships.
Immediately the NLC failed in this, the fact of their complicity in their present predicament is established. And immediately it is established, it is plain wrong for the NLC to demand that an illegal and unsustainable remunerative profile be maintained. And it gets worse when the logic of their demand is that the politicians are earning unified salaries across the board. The fact is that the very act of uniform political remuneration is an absurdity and unsustainable. And it cannot thus be a basis of making demands. In other words, NLC cannot use one indiscretion to demand for or sustain another.
The NLC can only demand for salary increase on the basis that that is the right thing to do. But is it right? We suspect it is as we have said earlier. But the devil marches in with the details again. And a great part of that detail is that workers are owed arrears of salaries and emoluments – including pensions – across the country. And these unpaid and unmet commitments run across months and sometimes years. And their monetary values are in the billions of naira.
So, if for months or years state governments are not paying and having been owing her workers salaries, pensions and emoluments, the following can be stated. It is that if state governments, debtors to workers, living, retired and or dead, are to be engaged, the first priority is to recover the debts they owe the workers, running into billions of naira. The priority should not be in giving the same state governments wider windows to owe more.
That is if the state governments are “franchised” to pay higher it is all obvious that their debt profile with workers will balloon. So the question is to what purpose? Our conjecture is that the NLC champagne lords are up to games. These men are not in the least interested in the welfare of their members or of the general economy. They are in it for their personal glory and careers.
And nothing typifies this like the “glory and career” of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. For Oshiomhole, the game in leading the NLC is not to deliver any values to workers. It is to grandstand as a decoy. The bigger game is that he becomes one of the ruling lords of the land. And he became, and has remained one since he jumped the NLC ship. Today, he is reputed to a political piranha with a palace to match. According to Buba Galadima Oshiomhole boasts of the grandest residential castle in all of black Africa. That’s a great labor lord for you. Meanwhile the average worker lives in hovels not fit for the pets and dogs of labor potentates. So, for Oshiomhole running the NLC was ultimately a political move. And he has cashed out and still is. He, as we write is the chairman of one of Africa’s most right-wing parties, APC.
Thus one can hazard that the current NLC strongman Ayuba Wabba is going the strait and slick way of his elders.
His game could be this. If only it could be credited that “I, Wabba, negotiated a salary increase for Nigerian workers, that qualifies me like Oshiomhole, to retire into high political office, say the presidency. Or as the worst consolation as Senator.” This conjecture makes sense. Otherwise there is no other explanation as to why Wabba would want to wreck the fragile foundations of the present economic order, if not to serve his careerist purposes.
This point is further emphasized thus. If Wabba wants to be a genuine and selfless workers’ hero he has one immediate task. And that task is to rally workers and the conscience of Nigerians to enforce a simple labor lore. It is that no government, repeat no government, shall be allowed to owe a single Nigerian public sector worker a month’s pay. And that if any state/s dares, that state/s should be “shut down.” I can assure him that millions of Nigerians would not only give him moral support, millions more will troop out to make him their messiah. And if the billions owed, are pumped back into the economy via workers, it is certain the economic fortune of workers and their country will be best served. And after that it is time to campaign ‘Wabba for President any day he is ready.”
As for increase in workers’ minimum salaries, that can come only after Wabba and NLC have enforced an iron lore: that no Nigerian worker shall be again owed a penny. In all however, their greater task is to call for a true federal structure. The point remains that unitary Nigeria like unitary salary structure is not sustainable. The one, the unitary salary is caving in. Be sure as hell unitary Nigeria will soon collapse on its own unbearable weight. All else is in humor.