A Nigerian first class lawyer Yusuf Olaolu Ali (SAN) has called on the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Ministry of Labour and Employment and state governors to convey and discuss the N18, 000 minimum wage issue, to avoid plunging the entire country into an economic doom through an industrial action.
On the statement credited to the state governors as saying they cannot continue paying the N18,000 minimum wage, Yusuf Olaoku Ali (SAN) said, it is a sensitive issue that must be carefully settled. Adding it is rather unfortunately we are all playing the Ostrich with an issue that concerns workers welfare and capable of paralyzing our economy if matters are not carefully handled.
In an interview with The Authority, Ali however cautioned the NLC, “If it is true Nigeria is Federation and there is federal autonomy and want to promote federalism, then the leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress should be honest with themselves and Nigerians. If nowhere in the world can anybody prescribe minimum wage for private industries, it should also not happen in public service, because the ability of the states to pay is different. For example, the salary Lagos State can afford to pay, you don’t expect a state like Ekiti or Yobe to pay the same.”
In what seems contrary to the opinion of the NLC, the Legal Icon said “why do we run a Federal system and when it comes to wages we want it to be Unitary? I think the leadership of labour should sit down with the governors and discuss the issue because at the end of the day, if the states are unable to pay, they will lay off workers and the situation will be worst.
“Honestly, we must be pragmatic in this issue. I know what I am saying is not a popular opinion and truly, I am not in popular contest with anybody. The truth must be told! If employees will have to lay off some workers because they cannot afford to pay salaries, where would the rest work and earn salaries? Beside two or three among the 36 states in this country, the rest of the states are not viable economically and we all know that most of these states cannot meet their wage bill unless they collect monthly allocation from Abuja.”