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May Day Special Report: Civil Servants Urge FG to Implement New Minimum Wage

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Faruku Uba Soron-Dinki, a civil servant, appears hopeless about workers' ordeal amid the country's current economic crisis.

Soron-Dinki was recently forced to live on credit to feed his family as his salary could no longer sustain them for a month.

“It is really difficult for us. I collect foodstuffs on credit, pay it back at the end of the month, and collect another foodstuff. That's how I'm surviving,” he said.

It is also a daily struggle for Mai Kudi Muhammad Marafa, another Civil Servant in Kano city. Marafa, a resident of Dorayi in Kumbotso LGA spends most of his salary on fuel just to get to his office in the Na’ibawa area.

“Where you were buying at the cost of N50 is now over N200. Normally, I spend N300 to get fuel money for my motorcycle, but now I spend over N2,000. Government must address this problem,” he said.

As the workers continue to lament the situation, pensioners are also not left behind. Haruna Ibrahim Dan-Gora is one of them. As a level 14 retiree, his 54, 000 monthly pension cannot buy a bag of rice. 

“Our monthly pension is too small. I retire at level 14 and my pension is N54,000 monthly. Honestly, I can't feed my family with this. We are calling on the government to increase your pension.”

As the frustrating fuel scarcity is complicating the hike in the price of transport fare, the price of commodities remains high at various markets.

Inflation Rises to 33.20%

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its Consumer Price Index for March 2024 revealed that headline inflation rose to 33.20% in the month from 31.70% in February.

The March headline inflation has shown an increase of 1.5 percent points when compared to the previous month, a situation that has further compounded the economic hardship facing Nigerians.

No doubt, Nigeria is currently experiencing its worst economic crisis in a generation, which has led to widespread hardship and anger. The steep price of food has been a major source of frustration.

Rice, a key staple in the country is fast getting out of reach for most households as its prices have more than doubled in cost over the past year.

767 Jobs Shut Down in 2023

The situation is also not palatable to manufacturers who shut about 767 of their factories nationwide, while 335 became distressed in 2023 alone.

This came against the backdrop of exchange rate volatility, rising inflation, epileptic power supply, and other economic challenges, among other inimical government policies, according to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).

On the power supply challenge in Kano, the chairperson of the Trade Union Congress TUC in Kano, Comrade Mubarak Yarima draws the state government’s attention to the Tiga and Challawa power plants.

Comrade Yarima believes that when the project is completed, “the city will be exempted from the incessant power outage in the country.”

More Reactions from Workers

While fuel scarcity and the electricity tariff hike dominate the discussion of Kano workers at this month’s May Day rally in Kano, they also reiterate their call for the review of the minimum wage.

Suleiman Abdullahi Dederi said: “Till now the minimum wage is 30 thousand, so my salary is not even enough to get fuel. We are calling on the government to look into this by increasing our salaries.”

Another civil servant, Zubairu Bako said: “We are just managing because of the inflation and you know our salary remains the same. We urge them to review the salary because life is difficult right now.”

Federal Government Implements New Minimum Wage

The Minister of State for Labour, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha appears to hear their plight, promising that the minimum wage implementation will take effect from May 1, 2024.

Onyejeocha gave the assurance during the May Day celebration, saying “is regrettable that the new national minimum wage is not ready before May Day but that wide consultation is ongoing to ensure that the document is out together as soon as possible”. 

But the Chairperson of Nigeria Labour Congress in Kano, Comrade Kabiru Inuwa expresses reservation over the minister’s promise.

He says, “This may not be realistic as the 37-member tripartite committee tasked with recommending the minimum wage could not reach a consensus at its last meeting before the May deadline”.

Comrade Inuwa however demanded urgent payment of N75 billion backlog of unremitted pension contributions from the government.

Comrade Inuwa worried that “the unsettled deduction from pensioners entitlement which stood at N75 billion as of May 2023 poses a serious threat to the financial security of our retirees”.

He lamented that the failure of the government to remit the deductions of pension has led to a cut in payments of pension to retirees over the years, “calling for immediate intervention of Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf”.

The labor leader also raised concern over the failure of the state government to fulfill the pledge on monthly wage award which was only paid once, reminding that workers rely on the wage to improve their standard of living.

The NLC chairperson also drew the government's attention over total silence on local government autonomy, adding that grassroots development is crucial to the local government's financial and administrative independence.

Comrade Inuwa also commended the government for the reinstatement of payments of salaries to Workers employed by the previous administration after the 2023 polls.

Comrade Inuwa also says other achievements under the current administration are “payment of retirement and death benefits of Six Billion Naira, Promotion of Workers, and sponsoring workers to foreign universities for further education”. 

Governor Abba's Reaction 

Responding, Kano State Governor Alhaji Abba Kabir Yusuf says his administration would enhance the welfare and working conditions of workers in the state.

According to Governor Yusuf, his administration would not relent in ensuring “timely payment of salaries and pensions of retirees geared towards improving their welfare”.

He noted that plans are underway to initiate a befitting Housing Scheme for workers, stressing that when fully unveiled “the scheme would pave the way for workers to own Houses at affordable rates”. 

Governor Yusuf, represented by his Deputy Alhaji Aminu Abdulsalam Gwarzo, maintained that his administration has accorded priority to the development of “Education, Agriculture, and Health Care Delivery”, among others.

Also, President Bola Tinubu, in his May Day statement, said the days of worry are over for the workers.

Again, workers got nothing but promise during this year’s May Day celebration! How soon can these promises come to reality? Only time can tell as Nigerian workers keep hoping for a better day ahead!


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