NLC/TUC, the 6 months FG Salary Award, and the Keg of Gunpowder

The Tinubu's 1st October solution to the current economic crisis after 4 months in office is the Award of temporary increase of the salaries of low-grade workers by N25,000 for 6 months. 7 months after winning the election and 4 months after taking over, Tinubu and his economic team sat down, deliberated and came up with this idea. Wow! What sort of economic model is that? I guess they think we are all dumb.

In the gospel according to the President and his economic team, a N150,000 cash dash spread over 6 months for those within the neighbourhood of minimum wage will solve the current crisis of purchasing power in Nigeria. Meanwhile, the rest of Nigerian workers, especially the graduate workers who earn from 60k and above per month, are expected to be able to survive. This surely makes economic sense to the president and his "world-class" economic team. The message is clear: Just MILT with your current salary and economic situation.

The excuse have always been the fear of inflation that will follow salary/wage increase but the fear of the inflation that followed fuel subsidy removal and the floating dollar was never an excuse to stop the implementation of the anti-people's policy. There is no salary increase but a bag of rice is now over N50,000 and that of maize is about N50,000. A 25 kg bag of Lactorich powdered milk is about N95,000. A bag of flour is about N40,000. A loaf of average size bread is now N1,200. We are expected to just MILT and redesign our eating habit.

Most public  universities will be resuming for a new session in the next few months with over 200% fee increase. The same parents struggling to feed their kids are expected to raise that fee. Yes! Let's celebrate the defeat of ASUU in 2022. That was one of the greatest achievements of the Buhari's government. Enjoy the effect of the defeat and MILT with ripple effect.

Who are the Economists advising Nigerian government or where do our government get their economic advisers from? They are surely disconnected with the economic situation of the generality of Nigerians.

I am not an Economist. But it's fine if you want to remove fuel subsidy and float the exchange rate without control. But you are suppose to be prepared for the implication. The most sensible thing to do in implementing that policy would have been to project the likely effects of the subsidy removal and the floating exchange rate, then release a policy for a "renewed" purchasing power package that will also take effect immediately the subsidy is removed. That creates a balance.

As the price of commodities increases due to subsidy removal and floating exchange rate, the workers would have acquired improved purchasing power to balance it. The market woman on the other hand will experience increased sales and turnover. That would have made more economic sense.

There is a trending video clip of a speech made by the Speaker of the House of Representatives a few days ago. Listening to the words, it is obvious that our politicians are aware of the problems and the solutions but ain't willing to get things fixed. The Speaker said you can't be paying a worker a salary that you know cannot take him to work and pretend that you want to fight corruption. How do you expect him to survive? He stated that we need to work on a "realistic living wage". However, the Executive think all we need is a handout and an Award for a few months. They seem to be deriving some joy when they see the people suffer. This is far away from the so-called "Renewed Hope". This can only be termed as "Renewed Sadism".

The Labour Unions that are meant to fight for the welfare of the workers can't be trusted. They will appear to be prepared for a serious fight for the people but only to drop their hope. The Labour Union happily announced that the 6 months award for the low-grade workers not cut across all FG workers and it has been increased from 25k to 35k after a negotiation between the unions and the government's team. Will the Unions accept the Award and abort the planned strike like they did when electricity tariff was increased?

In August 2020, electricity tariff was increased by over 100% and there was serious rant from the unions on behalf of the people. After what they called a "serious negotiation", NLC accepted a 4.5% discount on electricity tariff for 2 months (September and October 2020) for us. The rest is history.

A "6 months Award" what does that mean? Is it a palliative for 6 months to give FG time to workout a befitting living wage? This was not contained in the press release. If the happily announced ridiculous N35,000 is paid for 6 months, we have not been educated on what will what happen after the 6 months Award period. Will life return to how it was before May 29, 2023? What are the realistic plans to restore the pre-May 29, 2023 purchasing power to the people? The Union leaders are happy to announce "the Award" as an achievement. Are we expected to be happy too? How do these people reason?

It's obvious that the country is in need of a realistic living wage and I can't understand why it is so difficult to get that done when it was so easy to remove fuel subsidy. If the current minimum wage cannot be raised to address the current economic reality and the Labour Union is handicapped, it is better to forget the so called "6 months Award" and let's MILT as usual. Life will be worse at the expiration of the 35k Award period.

It won't surprise some of us if NLC accepts the 6 months Award while life goes on and Nigerians are left to MILT and figure out how to get to work and survive. An organised protest under a Union to address the current economic situation is more healthy. But when the Union failed the people and anger grows, the keg of gunpowder that we are sitting on may explode. We seems to be joking with the time bomb

In 1962, John F. Kennedy famously said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable". The discontent is growing stronger and the president needs to do the needful to avoid the explosion of the time bomb.


Prof. Abdelghaffar Amoka Abdelmalik

Copyright © Amoka 2023

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