The Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness yesterday appealed to organised labour to accept the N22,500 being offered as minimum wage by state governors in the overall interest of the country, saying shutting down the country will only have negative effect on the already suffering masses.
Director General of the centre, Dr. Nwambu Gabriel, who said he was speaking for a coalition of over 79 civil society organisations, said anything above the figure being offered by the governors will lead to inflation.
He added that the burden of paying salaries is on state governments, saying it is one thing to agree but another thing to be able to pay, based on the prevailing economic situation in Nigeria.
He said it is also the responsibility of Nigerian workers to ensure that the economy of Nigeria does not collapse.
He said: “As a coalition of civil society organisations, therefore, who are mindful of the degree of commitment of the average worker in Nigeria, we hereby call on the organised labour, NLC, TUC, etc, as the true, patriotic citizens of Nigeria they are, to please reconsider the N22,500 as realistic and achievable in order to avert an imminent collapse of the economy and possible retrenchment of the workforce.
“The primary responsibility of any government is beyond salary payment. Consequently, today, the 2nd day of November, 2018, may we also advise that embarking on another national strike action or a boycott of the 2019 general election, which is tantamount to disenfranchising the entire nation’s labour force, is notonly anti-democratic but will also be counterproductive to the Nigerian state.”
The coalition urged the labour union to see reasons with government, especially at the state level, in the onerous task of nation building and sacrifice for their fatherland.
“Several states still owe salaries not because the individual governors do not want to pay but because resources available to individual states and the internally generated revenue (IGR) vary from one state to the other.
“The federal government cannot also compel states to pay specific amount as minimum wage because the infrastructural, educational, health, etc needs of each state also vary.
“Now, the tendency is that if states are compelled by any form of legislation to pay some specific amount as minimum wage, then the states might resort to the only available option to retrench the work force. This option is what the states are consistently trying to avoid because of the prevailing economic condition.
“The Nigerian economy is already over-burdened with very high recurrent expenditure which is sourced abroad via borrowing. Our economy is hemorrhaging seriously.
“The IMF has warned Nigeria on the possible consequences of excessive borrowing. We can further worsen this situation via a unilateral increase of wages, thus causing a Cash-Push and Make-Up type of inflation.
“Wage increase right from the Udoji Award is known to be a major cause of inflation. The life wire of our economy is hinged on crude oil sales. Today, the price of crude is no longer what it used to be.”