• Friday, June 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

The many dimensions of a living wage

Minimum wage: How not to leave pensioners behind

Amidst the truce from the labour strike, social media emerges as a powerful player in the discourse on a new national minimum wage. With a plethora of information across various platforms, the advice is clear: caveat emptor-verify before consuming and sharing.

On Wednesday, the caution began to bear fruits.

The House of Representatives rose in self-defence against some of the stories bandying figures about the alleged remuneration of legislators. House spokesman Hon Akin Rotimi said the statistics were untrue. However, he did not provide the correct figures. Rotimi slammed labour for the reports. Significantly, Rotimi staked a claim for the House that aligned with workers’ interests.

“The House of Representatives acknowledges the recent industrial action undertaken by the NLC and the TUC due to the breakdown in negotiations for a new national minimum wage. The People’s House is pleased to note that the strike action has been suspended for one week to allow further negotiation.

“During this period, as we have previously demonstrated, the People’s House remains responsive and committed to actively engaging all stakeholders to resolve the issues in the best interest of Nigerians.

“House Speaker Abbas Tajudeen has consistently advocated a living wage and better working conditions for workers. At various forums, he has emphasised the importance of addressing critical national priorities, including the state of the economy and insecurity, through legislative action.

“While the Green Chamber is in full support of the call for improved wages and working conditions, there is a great need to exercise caution in increasing the minimum wage beyond what our economy can sustain to avoid unintended outcomes such as inflation, layoffs, and other adverse economic consequences.

“Thus, we restate the importance of approaching this issue from a balanced perspective to ensure long-term stability and prosperity for all.

“Importantly, the shutdown of critical infrastructure, such as the national grid, constitutes economic sabotage and is detrimental to the well-being of our country.

Those responsible for these actions must be held accountable.

“We also find it troubling that the leadership of organised labour, the majority of whom live far above the means of the average Nigerian, would engage in actions that exacerbate the suffering of ordinary citizens.

“It is necessary, therefore, to state that while industrial actions and dissent are fundamental rights within our democratic space that must be protected, how Labour conducted itself during the just-suspended strike broadly shows a lack of empathy for Nigerians.

“Is the objective of the unions’ leadership to compel the government to implement a living wage or to inflict pain on Nigerians?

“Additionally, it is essential to address persistent misinformation and disinformation propagated by organised Labour leadership regarding lawmakers’ earnings.

“This is mainly because organised labour has, for years, contributed to false narratives about the remuneration of members of the National Assembly, exaggerating figures to stoke public resentment and undermine the credibility of the Legislature.

“This tactic diverts attention from the core issues at stake and unfairly vilifies the institution of parliament. It is crucial for all parties to engage in an honest and transparent dialogue rather than resorting to the spread of inaccuracies for political leverage.”

“Contrary to the insinuations of the Labour leadership through its social media platforms, the Legislature is on the side of Nigerians and will continue to act in the best interest of our constituents, giving meaning to their mandate.”

Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Hon Nkiruka Onyejeocha, weighed in on the allegation that Nigerian legislators take home the highest salaries among legislatures worldwide. She said it is untrue, as she has been in both the legislature and the executive.

• The many narratives included a change in terminology. Experts began to speak of “a living wage” instead of merely “minimum wage” as desirable for Nigerian workers.

• Comparisons emerged in the media about minimum wages in oil-producing countries.

As we hail Nigeria…

“Nigeria, we hail thee” as the de jure Nigerian national anthem continues to attract debates. Contentions are its desirability, timing, cost implications, and more.

Trust Nigerians to see the humorous side. Reports and posts appeared showing Nigeria We Hail Thee in Nigeria’s musical formats. A popular one showed an Apala version. Wikipedia states that Apala (or akpala) is a music genre developed initially by the Yoruba people of Nigeria during the country’s history as a colony of the British Empire. It is a percussion-based style that originated in the late 1930s.

The many fun takes included this one:

“Old national anthem says our father’s land
New national anthem says our mother’s land
You sure say Nigeria no need DNA like dis?”.

• Donald Trump’s (mis) fortunes

Former US president Donald Trump continues to excite Nigerians’ popular imagination. A New York jury found him guilty on 34 counts, which attracted attention across Nigerian social media.

Your correspondent observed the debate on Trump’s electoral chances on at least two platforms. After watching a video clip where Trump denied saying they should lock up an opponent, a participant observed:

– So, who’s crying over spilled milk? What he wished Hillary, he got #34 times. We going to stop at nothing to look up this crooked 😠 conman. Pinocchio!
Another responded: Incidentally, Trump might win again.

He has massive supporters. And politics is a game of numbers.
Not like Nigeria, where it is a game of money.

The comic side of current inflation