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Minimum Wage: Utomi advises FG, organised labour

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Last Updated on June 7, 2024 by Fellow Press

A renowned political economist, Prof. Pat Utomi says Federal Government and the Organised Labour should take advantage of the new minimum wage negotiation to move Nigeria down the path of thrift and production.

Utomi, Founder, Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL) and 2007 Presidential Candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) gave the advice in an interview on Friday in Lagos.

He was reacting to the impasse between the organised labour and the Federal Government on the new minimum wage for workers which led to the strike declared by labour unions on Monday.

Utomi said: “Labour must insist on a dramatic slash in the cost of government and investment of the savings made in production programmes and infrastructure.

“This to facilitate and sustain the value chain of the output based on our latent comparative advantage from strong factor endowments.

“On its part, government should establish what it is paying for. Is it paying as welfare for people who just show up?

“Output targets need to be established and hard consequences for abuse of positions like corruption and begging on the job from customers.”.

He said that benchmark for civil society monitoring of both parties also needed to be established with clearly outlined consequences.

According to him, the government needs to also come up with bold initiatives that drive the transition to production in the way the Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) attempted to do in the mid 1970s.

He said that that future adjustments of minimum wage weighed heavily on productivity improvements

“Once a proper framework is established now the template to plug in productivity gains should be activated

“It should not be a matter of sentiment or mood of the leaders on both sides,” he added.

NAN recalls that the organised labour’s declaration of nationwide indefinite strike on Monday over the new minimum wage affected all sectors of the economy.

However, with the Federal Government’s expression of commitment to raising its proposed minimum wage of N60,000 at a meeting with labour leaders, the organised labour on Tuesday announced suspension of the industrial action for a week for further negotiation.

The government and the Organised Private Sector had initially proposed N48,000, then N54,000 and N57,000, which were all rejected by labour.

The organised labour had also proposed N615,000 as new minimum wage, but later reduced it to N497,000 and then to N494,000, to reflect the prevailing economic realties.

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Nigeria marks 25 years of democracy with special parade

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Last Updated on June 12, 2024 by Fellow Press

As part of activities to mark the 2024 Democracy Day, the Guards Brigade Nigerian Army on Wednesday led the Nigerian Armed Forces and Nigeria Police in a special parade.

Nigeria is also celebrating 25 years of unbroken democracy.

The theme for the Democracy Day Celebration is “25 Years of Enduring Democracy: Prospects for the Future”.

The parade was mounted by the personnel of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and the Police who displayed a colourful parade.

President Bola Tinubu, who is the reviewing officer for the parade mounted the special military parade vehicle with his Aide de Camp to inspect the parade at about 10.15 am.

Afterward, the troops began the match past, first to salute the dignitaries and seek permission to commence the quick match past.

This was followed by the silent drill display by the Guards Brigade, mass bang and cultural troupes display and other important activities

President Tinubu and his wife, Sen. Oluremi Tinubu arrived the venue at exactly at 10.00 am heralding the commencement of the programme.

The President of the Senate and Speaker, House of Representatives, Godswill Akpabio and Tajudeen Abbas as well as the Chief Justice of Nigerian and Secretary to the Government of the Federation arrived earlier.

Also present were Ministers, state governors, lawmakers and security chiefs.

Earlier in a nationwide broadcast, President Tinubu praised the winner of the annulled June 12, 1993, presidential election, Chief Moshood Abiola and other heroes of democracy, including General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and Pa Alfred Rewane, among others.

In his Democracy Day broadcast on Wednesday, the President also celebrated other heroes including Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Abraham Adesanya, Commodore Dan Suleiman, Chief Arthur Nwankwo, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Chief Frank Kokori, and Chief Bola Ige, and other eminent Nigerians who made great sacrifices for the restoration of democracy in the country.

The President urged Nigerians to beware of elements who might want to undermine the current democratic dispensation.

He acknowledged the economic hardships in the country and expressed his commitment to supporting the citizens.

He said, “On this day, 31 years ago, we entered our rites of passage to becoming a true and enduring democratic society.

“Going through this passage was hard and dangerous. During the fateful six years that followed, we fought and struggled for our natural rights as human beings put on this earth by the divine hand of our Creator.

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Minumum Wage: Govs should resign if they can’t pay, says Labour

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Last Updated on June 9, 2024 by Fellow Press

Organised Labour on Saturday tackled the state governors, accusing them of acting in bad faith towards the new minimum wage negotiations ongoing in the country.

Recall that the governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors Forum rejected the proposed N60,000 minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

In a statement issued on Friday by the Director of Media and Public Affairs for NGF, Halimah Ahmed, the governors said the proposed minimum wage was too high and not sustainable.

The governors said if the N60,000 minimum wage is adopted, many states would allocate their entire Federal Account Allocation Committee funds to salaries, leaving no resources for development projects.

However reacting on Saturday, the Organised Labour faulted the NGF’s position, saying every part of the new minimum wage agreement should be implemented and any of the state governors who can’t pay it should resign.

According to Punch, the Deputy National President of the Trade Union Congress, Tommy Etim, said, “There is no minimum wage. Every segment of it should be implemented. For the governors, we have said it very clearly. If you cannot pay minimum wage, please resign because you were voted for governance not for only infrastructure.”

“If you build the entire infrastructure and the people are not living to use it, who will use it? When they were campaigning did they tell us that? They didn’t tell us that. They make use of the poor to get to the top and when they get there, they start thinking outside the box. All the money they spent in electioneering campaigns, if they applied that to build infrastructure, to develop the revenue generation that would have solved some socio-economic challenges in their domain,” Etim said.

Describing the NGF statement as a recipe for industrial unrest, he said, “In this same country, the governors said that N30,000 was too much for governors to pay but it is in the same country that a governor emerged with over N80bn. What an irony! We cannot jump processes. We will also look at it together. Labour will be meeting. We are giving Mr President the benefit of the doubt to work the talk. The end will justify the means.”

Also reacting in a statement signed by its Head of Public Affairs, Benson Upah, the Nigerian Labour Congress said, “We do believe the Governors have acted in bad faith. It is unheard of for such a statement to be issued to the world in the middle of an on-going negotiation. It is certainly in bad taste.

“As for the veracity of their claim, nothing can be further from the truth as FAAC allocations have since moved from N700bn to N1.2tn, making the 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, minimise corruption as well as prioritise the welfare of workers.”

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