How Will State Governments Pay New Minimum Wage?
Nigeria News takes a look at the plan to increase the minimum wage in the second quarter of this year and the lack of capacity of many state governments to pay.
At present almost all state governments in Nigeria cannot pay their workers’ salaries. Even at the N18, 000 minimum wage, it is a tall order for many state governments.
By the second or third quarter of this year, the Federal Government would have perfected its strategy to increase the minimum wage.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige may be waiting for an approval by President Muhammadu Buhari after the tripartite committee must have concluded all matters about the new wage.
It will come as a bribe to electorate towards 2019 presidential election. That is how it goes in Nigeria, right and privileges do not come without the political elites taking some benefits in return.
For the civil servants to have increased wages, they must be ready to vote for the party in power. This time, it is the All Progressives Congress and must work out its logic to use the minimum wage as baits for the civil servants.
But after an increment comes payment, which of course is a big task for states that cannot even pay the old wage. The state government had been bailed out about three times with the Paris Club Refund to pay their workers’ salaries.
It is going to be tougher for civil servants in the years ahead when much would have been spent on the election and the Paris or London Club Refunds refuse to drop.
The present government is gradually pushing for this with the plan to increase wages and with no plan to cut the spending at the various organs of government, mostly the National Assembly, where each lawmaker takes as much as over N200 million monthly in allowance and constituency projects that would never be implemented.
It is sad that most governors prefer to build roads and bridges while civil servants languish under unpaid salaries and allowances. Investigations reveal that most governors concentrate on building infrastructure, hiring foreigners to do so because it is the only way for them to make some money.
Who cares about a less productive civil servant that will not add any value rather than carrying files from one table to another?
A visit to government offices is an eye-opener. Civil servants hardly do challenging or creative assignment and this, of course, has relegated them and made politicians who would be there for a minimum of four years to look outside the ministries, agencies and departments for effective hands.
And in doing so, diverting state monies to their private accounts.
I ask again, how many states in Nigeria can pay minimum wage without free oil money from the Niger Delta? Even with the free money, is Federal Allocation meant for just paying salaries and allowances?
Our heads are wrapped in shits! Imagine a company using all its capital to pay salaries without much income from the business it is running. Most of our states just wait for the monthly Federal Allocation and use same to pay salaries and allowances.
Revenue collection is almost nil in some states. Others, where staff should work on getting businesses to relocate and start work simply sit and push files. Which society will survive on that?
The Governors too, are not helping issues. Road construction, especially bridges have become their favourite now. And these are almost always given to foreigners. All of them have ministries of Work. They hardly engage their staff or encourage local firms to get jobs, which should boost private sector employment.