In this era of globalization, market economy, hyper competition and rapid changing environment, every employer of labour expects an increase in productivity, a surge in quality service delivery as well as critical thinking in workplaces. Unfortunately, not all understand the Human Resource philosophy which states that “employees are an important business resource that must be managed carefully in order to maximize return on investment and achieve business objectives”.
Instead, many employers tend to portray their employees as a folk privileged to have a paltry sum on a regular basis. Of course, the unprecedented surge in the labour market has not helped matters, as workers are forced by their economic situation to see their employers as lords, in whose grace they have found solace. This mentality has not only led the country into serious brain-drain of its workforce, it has affected the overall attitude to work and, by extension, the overall productivity.
This is not different from what is being observed as the battle for the full implementation of the New National Minimum Wage for workers, moved to the various states of the federation.
Upon the Federal Government’s conclusion of negotiations on consequential adjustments of salaries of higher income earners with the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC), as a result of the new minimum wage of N30,000, expectations were that respective state governors would see reason to implement same immediately, considering the length of time it took for the negotiations to be concluded.
Ordinarily, 182 days after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the new minimum wage bill into law, before the consequential adjustment was achieved, should have been time enough for a welfare-conscious leader to know that the concerned workers’ patience had been overstretched, and so, needed no further stretching.
No doubt, salivating Nigerian workers had been very anxious for the new salary which they hope would shore up their purchasing power, given the current economic realities. The more optimistic among them had already calculated the possible new earnings and had possibly started looking forward to when they would start enjoying the jumbo pay.
After all, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) that ratified the deal, had directed “…that the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission and the Ministry of Labour and Employment should send the consequential adjustments table down to the state and local governments as an advisory document for their information and guidance for their National Joint Public Service status in their respective states because the national minimum wage is a national law.”,
On the contrary, most state workers are yet to know their fate, a situation that isn’t palatable at all. Not even are the state governors moved by the directive to the ministries, agencies and departments to ensure that arrears of the new wage regime from April when the Act came into effect be cleared before the end of December.
This blattant display of reluctance towards the implementation of this federal law (minimum wage), with the required urgency, by the various state governors, does not only express the height of the latter’s insensitivity to the plight of their subjects, it is an indication of a lack of love for those whose wellbeing they swore to protect.
It is on this note that the action of the Lagos State Government under the leadership of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, at not only being the first state to pay the minimum wage, but also raising the bar by paying more than the N30, 000 agreement which organized labour reached with the Federal Government, is highly commendable.
According to Jeddy Omisore, a journalist, “with this singular action, Gov Sanwo-Olu has painted his self portrait as a welfarist leader. He has proved that it is possible to be in power and still remember the downtrodden. He has, no doubt, written his name in gold as a foremost civil servants-friendly governor”.
Right now, there are reports that pensioners are also getting a review on their earnings, just as the state continues to pay them as at when due. Lagos State is generally applauded as one of the few states that do not make pensioners groan, grumble or cry before they collect their pension.
Sanwo-Olu may have been able to achieve this feat due to his belief in collectivism and his understanding of the fact that the next person also has a right to fair treatment for a harmonious co-existence, especially when productivity is expected from the latter.
Nothing can be more reinforcing than this laudable action of the governor. It is now imperative on the public servants to reciprocate with more hard work, dedication and selfless service. As they say, unto whom much is given, much is required. The onus now lies on the public servants in the state to roll up their sleeves, with their hand to the till, their back to the wall and nose to the grindstone and work smarter and harder than before.
In both private and public sectors, while every other measure may count, employees’ performances remain an essential requirement for any organization to maintain its efforts towards the realization of predetermined goals. Those who have come to terms with this principle would affirm that regular welfare packages remain a known catalyst for this expected improved performance, and so, it is not optional.
Many employers have failed because they chose to undermine their workers’ welfare; the catalyst of improved performance in the workplace. In fact, in this age and era, it is almost impossible to operate an organization without offering basic benefits for employees’ welfare. This is due to the realization that a healthy and stress-free worker is a major asset.
Thus, regular upward review of workers’ remunerations is one welfare facility known to basically keep employees’ motivation levels high. Besides, it is merely a social responsibility on organizations for those who work for them. The very logic behind providing welfare schemes, apart from being the workers’ right, is to increase a healthy employer/employee relationship as well as the productivity of the organization. It is also to create an efficient and satisfied labour force, thereby maintaining industrial peace. It should not be seen as a grant given to some undeserving elements of the society.
By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi
Of Quota System And Rise Of Mediocrity
Each time the thought of restructuring of the country is conceived, people are usually quick to think along the lines of regional divide, vis-a-vis enthroning true federalism where fiscal federalism is prioritized. An advocate of restructuring once said that Nigeria fared better when we operated as Northern, Eastern and Western regions than now.
Luckily, the likes of Bayo Okunade, a professor of political science at the University of Ibadan, would always think differently. For such, unless some fundamental issues are addressed, the problems would persist with or without restructuring.
It is education, it’s girl-child education, it’s women’s right, it’s child begging, it is parental irresponsibility, demographic growth, it’s managing a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society and bringing them into one community where they are all first and foremost, citizens before anything else.
As I carefully read through the speech of the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, on the occasion of Governor El-Rufai’s birthday, held in Kaduna recently, I needed no interpreter to help me figure out a diagnosis of Nigeria’s problem, using the north as his sample population.
Without mincing words, the former central bank boss has only exploited the platform provided by the Kaduna State governor’s birthday to highlight the indices for restructuring Nigeria, using the mathematical formula of substituting the north for Nigeria as a whole.
Although his emphasis was glaringly on the north, Sanusi was unequivocal on the eminence of destruction, should leaders fail to address the myriad challenges facing their subjects, which solution he insists does not rest on quota provision, but hinges on education.
His position on the quota system and federal character policies as a catalyst for the upsurge of mediocrity in the system as well as the relapsing into outright illiteracy by the citizens today, could not be hidden. He blamed the north for resting on their oars because of the quota system in place by which they hope to gain placement in the scheme of things
In his words, “we need to get northern youths to a point where they don’t need to come from a part of the country to get a job. The rest of the country cannot be investing, educating its children, producing graduates and then they watch us, they can’t get jobs because they come from the wrong state, when we have not invested in the future of our own children”.
While the quota system came into being prior to Nigeria’s Independence in 1960, the federal character principle became officially recognised in the 1979 constitution. The implication of this was that issues of admission, recruitment, promotion and appointment became based on these principles.
Bearing in mind that the entity called Nigeria is an output of an amalgamated process, whose constituents can hardly jettison in a hurry, their individual differences in culture, tongue, belief, etc, the federal character and quota system as enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria was designed to ensure equitable distributions of bureaucratic and political roles in the public service at federal, states and local government levels with pre-determined and inflexible result.
Of course, by design, the “federal character” principle seeks to ensure that appointments to public service institutions fairly reflect the linguistic, ethnic, religious, and geographic diversity of the country. It is purely to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.
The main idea is to create conditions where no tribe is favored above another, thus cementing in concrete term, the unity of the entire there would be no room for greed, avarice and jealousy For this reason, Section 153(1) of the 1999 Constitution provided for a commission (Federal Character Commission), charged with the responsibility of monitoring the implementation of rules and principles proclaimed in federal character.
Regrettably, the federal character has become a euphemism for recruiting unqualified people into the public service. Probably, proponents of this policy did not put into consideration, what becomes of the slots of a particular locality or region in the event of no capable hand to fill in the blank spaces.
This I believe is the reason why Sanusi berated the north over continuous reliance on quota system and federal character to get jobs for its children at the expense of the other parts of the country who, he said are “ busy educating their own children and turning out graduates”.
Like every derailed course that is tantamount to review, Sanusi believes that an expiry date awaits this well-intended but abused privilege. And for him, “a day is coming when there would be a constitutional amendment that addresses these issues of quota system and federal character.
“The country is moving on, the quota system that everybody talks about must have a sunset clause”. He advocates emphasis on merit against religion or tribe.
, “You don’t need to rise on being from Kaduna State or being from the North or being a Muslim to get a job, you come with your credentials, you go with your competence, you can compete with any Nigerian from anywhere. He maintained.
If I could read the lips of the traditional ruler, I should summarise his thought by stating that the days of potential did not help us so now is the era of credential.
The Police As Society’s Mirror
There is an academic theory with regards to the study of human societies. Among serious-minded scholars who undertook detailed studies in this project are Emile Durkeim, Jean Floud, S. Covey, Professor F. Sorokin, among several others. The London School of Economics also threw some light on this matter, with more emphasis on economic and self-preservation factors. Joseph Stalin of Russia brought in some radical slant in the theory of society, saying that “the basic law of life is that of self-survival and the protection of self-interest”. The strong survive!
Before the current mass expression of dissatisfaction with the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police, Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, had said long ago that he was surprised why Nigerians had not shown enough rage over the plight of corruption in Nigeria. Even a former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, had challenged Nigerians to bring forward any genuine complaint about corruption, with a condition that such allegation must be presented in “chapters and verses”, then the rest should be left for him to handle!
One of the basic theories in the study of social institutions is that the people involved in a social system and its operations rarely recognize fully the setting in of social aberrations. This is to say that people recognize more easily the faults in others than more serious flaws in themselves. If, for example, you ask any member of the Nigeria Police Force about corruption or brutality in that establishment, the answer you are likely to get would be more of rationalization, protection of self image and excuses about poor remuneration, etc.
To say that the image and body language of the Nigeria Police reflect the wider image and perception of Nigeria as a nation, would mean that every part of a body represents the status and substance of that body as a whole. Complaints which various members of the public make about the Police, are complaints that are widespread, which can be observed anywhere else. There can be no smoke without fire, and in a similar manner, the faults which anyone can find among the personnel of the Police, are faults that are indigenous in the society. Same faults can be found anywhere else, except that they can manifest in various guises.
Sociologists would tell us that every citizen of a country and every institution therein, mirror and reflect the larger image and status of the society. What do we refer to as culture if not the totality of the ideas, beliefs, customs, worldview etc, which people share and accept as distinct heritage. Behavioural patterns and attitudes are formed based on prevailing values widespread in the society which individuals would obviously imbibe and express to some degrees. What we call corruption includes the infectious nature of social mores and action patterns, which people absorb and express because of their survival value.
Foremost among aberrant behavioural patterns that have taken root among Nigerians since 1960, include intellectual cleverness which combines brashness and braggadocio as strategies for personal survival. In line with Stalin’s postulation about self-survival and self-interest being a basic law of life, who would blame Nigerians for developing some personal culture that enhance survival in a hostile environment?
William Shakespeare would tell us that people are as the time is. This means that people’s attitudes, values and behavioural patterns change according to the nature of threats, hostilities and opportunities prevailing in the society. One factor which no honest person would deny is that the Nigerian environment has continued to pose threats and hostilities to the average Nigerians. These threats and hostilities manifest most clearly in the access to the good things of life; from job opportunities, promotions, to other “dividends of democracy”. You must scramble and fight to get what you want!
No honest Nigerian would deny the fact that the Nigerian political economy has tended towards exclusiveness and parasitism since 1960. Are strategic and sensitive positions occupied in every sphere of the nation’s life based on merit, transparency and justice? Nigerians know the true answers to this and other issues which constitute the basis for the demand for a restructuring of the nation. But mischief mongers would side-track these issues in their efforts to defend and protect the status-quo. Would any honest Nigerian deny that there is more of corruption in nepotism than in hustling through bribery?
With regards to the Nigeria Police Force, those who had served in that establishment prior to 1977, would testify that what we have currently is a national shame. What has brought about the drastic fall in the pride and reputation of the Nigeria Police? Frankly, those who truly know the background of the decline of the Police would rarely want to get involved in any discussion about restructuring of that establishment. A lot of injustices and shenanigans have brought us to what we have now!
One would not shy away from pointing fingers at the military for playing vital and significant roles in placing the Police in its current unenviable position. The genesis of the declining status can be traced to the second military coup of July 1966, during which the Police presented damning reports on the security situation and organized hostilities glossed over by the military. That such reports were ignored resulted in senseless reprisals visited on certain groups accused of being ambitious, like Julius Caesar who must die for being ambitious.
Today, a few discerning people know what accounts for why nothing works in Nigeria. With regards to the Police, the best intelligence professionals were weeded out from that establishment without any transition or replacement based on personal merit. Consequently, both the police and the military lost core professionalism and unity of purpose. The pity is that truth would not be allowed to be told, so as not to open old wounds. Moreover, no one was put on trial for war crimes, inspite of atrocities and cruelties of 1966, up to January 1970. War and politics!
Do we wonder why every police officer takes his destiny in his own hands? Every other person in all walks of life does so because there is a loss of faith and confidence in the system. A study of the history of the “Arab Spring” would show that a key factor in spontaneous protests was the loss of confidence in a system where politics or rulership became a personalized and buccaneer affair.
Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
Even This Pain Shall Pass Away
We shall overcome, we shall overcome, we shall overcome someday, Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome someday.
The above gospel song which became a protest song and a key anthem of the civil rights movement has been on my lips since Tuesday’s killing of innocent, defenseless Nigerian youth by the military at Lekki, Lagos State. There has been justifiable anger in the land since the mowing down of the gallant young citizens of the country, whose only crime was to protest and speak up against police brutality, injustice, corruption, impunity, inept and rudderless leadership in the country.
Many had hoped that considering the genuineness of the reasons for the over two weeks EndSARS protest, the peaceful and organised nature of the exercise, it would not go the way of many protests in recent times which were hijacked by either some selfish individuals or hoodlums. Some prayed that it would not be marred by ethnicity, religion and tribalism as were many previous similar exercises in the country, rather, that Nigerians of all ages would put our ethnic and religious biases behind, and support the youth to fight for the soul of our dear country.
Sadly, that was not to be as the fathers, grand fathers and uncles, who are responsible for the poor state of the nation and do not want it to move forward for their selfish interests, ordered the massacre of their children. They hired hoodlums to disrupt and discredit legitimate civil protests to justify their urging the deployment of troops. Unfortunately, the same overworked, ill-equipped, underpaid uniformed men and women the protest would benefit, were the same people used to maim and kill fellow citizens. Too bad! And why they decided to use live bullets on unarmed citizens who were clinching the national flag, singing the anthem of the nation is still a puzzle.
The so-called leaders (or rulers as some people now prefer to call them), spread false information that the EndSARS protest is a religious fight, thereby carrying on with their age-long practice of sowing seeds of discord among the citizens. Their wicked action is already bearing fruit as there are drums of ethnic war being beaten in many parts of the country – Hausas and Yoruba youths clashing in Lagos, thugs from one part of the country attacking people from another part. Earlier in the week, a paid thug, Yusuf Yunusa, led a group of supposedly Abuja indigenes to Police headquarters to deliver a letter giving the IGP 48hours ultimatum to stop the EndSARS protest failing which he and his group would “go after them”. Shortly after that, there was destruction of lives and properties in Apo, Abuja. The violence had since spread to other places including Kubwa, Dutse, Waru and others.
For a people just coming out from a six months lockdown occasioned by Covid-19 pandemic, the pain, sorrow and hardship is unimaginable. But in all these, my appeal is that we should calm down and believe truly that we shall overcome. Though President Muhammadu Buhari has chosen to remain silent despite the appeals from different quarters that he should address the nation and calm frayed nerves, we shall overcome. Though the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) had warned broadcast stations and the general media against “embarrassing the Muhammadu Buhari administration with the use of User-Generated Content (UGC) in the coverage on the ongoing #EndSARS protest”, stopping us to vent the way we would have wished to, we shall overcome. The imposition of curfew in many states which makes movement difficult may be worsening our pains, just know that we shall certainly overcome someday.
It is said that he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day. It is also a fact that no war was ever settled on the battlefield. It always ended on a round table. Our youth should, therefore, listen to various voices of reason and give peace a chance. The continued destruction of private and public properties is definitely not the way to go. Those public properties belong to all of us and there is no wisdom in going ahead destroying and looting them because we are enraged.
One indisputable fact is that the youths have succeeded in waking us up to our responsibilities through the protest. It has brought about the rejuvenation we need in the country. And as many people believe, Nigeria will never be the same again. But it’s time for the youth to think of the next line of action; which is, coming up with strategies to vote in their own candidates in the 2023 election. Sitting on the fence and allowing other people, especially the older, corrupt generation to determine their future is no longer an option. Let us hope the president will do the needful and sign the Electoral Amendment Bill into law which will make room for a better conduct of elections in the country.
One hopes that the authorities and the citizens will capitalise on the auspicious moment presented by the season to change our value system so as to rebuild our fatherland for a better tomorrow. As a public officer, use your position to serve the people instead of exploiting and oppressing them. As a teacher, doctor, nurse or civil servant, treat your fellow citizens that need your service and your subordinates with respect and dignity. Let accountability and transparency be our watchword in this country. The continuous running of our states, local government councils and other government establishments as private belongings of those put in charge of them will only lead to more anger, frustration and protest.
Lastly and most importantly, our president should listen to the advice of well-meaning people both within and outside the country and address the issues raised by the protesting youth. Disbanding SARS and establishing SWAT in a most suspicious manner cannot be taken as granting their demands. Surely, some of their demands cannot be met overnight, but there must be immediate, medium and long-term plans of getting them done which must be communicated to the children in an open, transparent conversation with a high level of sincerity if the young ones must trust them. Conclusively, the government should always bear it in mind that the country will know no peace until there is justice everywhere and in all cases.
By: Calista Ezeaku
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