National Minimum Wage, National Maximum Wahala

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The issue of National Minimum Wage, which had lately  turned to National Maximum Wahala, seems to have been resolved, at least, for now. Thanks to all stakeholders.

The apparent resolution, though as belated as it may look, followed a truce between major stakeholders – the Federal and State Governments on one side, and the organised labour: the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC).

The agreement, which was brokered penultimate Wednesday, nonetheless, averted a national strike which, perhaps, would have had a crippling effect on the national economy with its inherent security challenges.

In fact, well-meaning Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief when they woke up Wednesday morning to hear that the strike had been called off by labour leaders following Federal and State Governments acceptance to bow to the demands of Nigerian workers.

Workers had, among other things, requested for the payment of N18,000 minimum wage across the board rather than Federal Government’s position of effecting the new salary regime for only salary grade levels 1-6, a position which labour bluntly objected.

On the other hand, the State Governments, under the aegis of Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), hinged payment of the new salary on two considerations, namely an upward review of the national revenue formula in favour of states, and removal of petroleum subsidy.

This was the scenario that culminated in the proclamation of a three-day warning strike, which was to commence last Wednesday before the truce was reached by all the stakeholders, thus averting the crisis which would have affected virtually all sectors of the economy.

With the resolution of the impasse, it is expected that the necessary machinery will be set up by the three tiers of government to implement the new wage regime with effect from August1, 2011 to ensure industrial harmony.

We expect that the resolution, which was as a result of collective bargaining involving all stakeholders, will not be short-lived, but enduring and sustainable in the interest of Nigeria.

This is against the backdrop that several years after the review of minimum wage to N7,500, Nigerian workers have been patient for long, awaiting an upward review of their salary.

It’s thereforeheart warming to witness an amicable resolution of all the issues at stake, and one expects that there will no longer be any log in the wheel of implementing the agreement reached by all the parties involved.

Kudos must be given to president Goodluck Jonathan, state governors and the National Assembly for exhibiting maturity and understanding in handling the labour issue with Solomonic wisdom.

Dr. Jonathan, for sure, would want to leave an enduring legacy by the time he winds up his tenure in 2015 and one sure way to achieve the feat is by carrying all segments of Nigerian society, including, of course, workers, along.

Perhaps, it is in fulfillment of his promise during the May 1, 2010 Workers Day celebration when he said inter-alia! “government supports the right of every worker to earn a living wage capable of addressing his basic necessities of life” that the President has, this time, accomplished.

As we expect the full implementation of the new salary package, it is hoped that Civil Servants will also reciprocate government’s gesture through improved productivity in their work places.

The era when government job is perceived as “no man’s work” should go for good and workers must attach seriousness to the schedules in order to execute policies and programmes initiated by government at all levels of governance.

Civil Service must, therefore, be result-oriented, focused, disciplined and efficient to realise the President’s transformational agenda, and, indeed, those enunciated by State Governors.

The era when civil service is perceived as sloppy, sluggish and corruption-ridden should be gone for real. A vibrant and dynamic bureaucracy should hold sway. It is unimaginable to think of a government without civil service, and the same also applies to a civil service without government. Both should complement each other for societal good and development.

Civil Servants must note that to whom much is given, much is also expected. This truism must henceforth guide civil servants’ attitude to work. They should, therefore, be more proactive and pragmatic in service.