Nigerian workers: Beware of the poisoned chalice called ‘new minimum wage’

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Since I became conscious of labour activism during my secondary school days, back in the 90s, agitation for pay rise by the organised labour is one recurring decimal that has characterised employee-employer relations in the Nigeria industrial landscape. At the imminent risk of being e-lynched, this week I have chosen to write on this topic with a slant that I know would definitely not sit well with most Nigerian workers, especially those in the public sector.

So, the lowest hanging fruit by way of a response from the organised labour is to demand for a “pay rise”. But if history is to be our guide, then I would say, it has not, yielded, and would never yield, the needed result. Rather, it precipitates further inflation – a more ferocious one at that, as soon as it is announced. Its implementation means, too much money would be in circulation, chasing too few goods – Demand-pull inflation.

The irony of the whole thing is that, most of the beneficiaries of the loan schemes, intended to boost food production, stimulate commercial activities in the country were diverted to, either, marrying additional wives, or embarking on pilgrimages and other frivolous and non-economic ventures. Furthermore, the loans were given out without the due process of “Credit Risk Evaluation” . There was no profiling the applicants to determine their credit worthiness, and by extension, their eligibility.

That reminds me of a debate I had with my mother – then a teacher, , when former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, increased the minimum wage to ₦5,000. The old woman was rejoicing and praying for Baba Iyabo, emphasising how humongous the amount was, in her eyes. ₦5,000, and how long a way it would go in catering for the needs of the family.


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