MINIMUM WAGE: Where Do We Get N30,000 From? Buhari Asks
"Do we print more currency and let everybody be a millionaire?" President Muhammadu Buhari asked.
The labour unions in Nigeria had fixed January 8 for its protest to push a demand for a 30,000 Naira minimum wage, but a night before the day, President Muhammadu Buhari asked the governors of the states in Nigeria one question.
He was interviewed by editors of ThisDay on Monday and several issues were touched, including the minimum wage that workers are looking forward to and nearly embarking on a fasting and prayer session to push further for it.
On the strength of the government to pay the minimum wage being demanded for by labour unions, President Buhari was emphatic about the inability of states to pay the amount and likened their situation to that of a mad woman who made her burden heavier rather than making it lighter.
Whether he was indirectly suggesting to states to consider reducing overhead cost is a talk for another day.
"There are states that were not paying salaries and we had to do what we call bailout twice and then pay Paris Club grant.
"For six months they were not paying one Kobo.
"So when they recruit labour they want salaries to be increased.
"I had to relapse into my culture, my Hausa culture, and told them about a mad woman.
"She went to make firewood. She made the firewood and tied it, but when she couldn't take it because it was too heavy, she increased the firewood instead of reducing.
"When they can't pay the
basic salary now of 18,000 Naira per month, they said it will go to 30,000 Naira.
"My budget presentation was no secret. I read it all out. Where do we get the money?" he asked.
Labour had said: "on 30,000 Naira we stand", even though the document that was put together after negotiations between the government and the representatives of the labour unions stated that the new National Minimum Wage could be anything between 24,000 Naira to 30,000 Naira.
The President, who has a fair knowledge of what the nation earns daily, considering what was in the budget he presented to the National Assembly in December, is not sure the nation can afford a 30,000 Naira minimum wage.
"Do we print more currency?
"If you do it, you cannot control inflation, but if we have to stay in government... this could force us to print more money and let everybody be a millionaire.
"I need the sympathy of the elite to have an in depth study of our economic problem.
"God has certainly empowered this country. We are rich in people and resources but we have a problem of performance. Time factor, time factor.
"We have to quickly exploit
our resources. We have started with agriculture and I hope we make progress with the mineral sector and then stabilise the oil sector.
But really, we have to do the infrastructure because I firmly believe that if we do the infrastructure well - the roads the rail, power - Nigerians will mind their own businesses, but how much will it take? he asked again.
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