Bayo Onanuga
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Organized labor’s N497,000 minimum wage demand unrealistic, unserious – Onanuga 

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The Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Mr. Bayo Onanuga, has said that organized labor’s N497,000 minimum wage demand is unrealistic and unserious.
Onanuga, in an interview, pointed out that the federal and state governments have bloated workforces.
He asserted that the Tripartite Committee should prioritize the availability of resources to meet the agreed-upon minimum wage.
Persecondnews recalls that organized labor initially demanded a minimum wage of N615,000, which was later negotiated down to N500,000 and then N497,000.
However, the government and private sector counteroffered with a proposal of N57,000 during the last tripartite meeting, significantly lower than the union’s demands.
Onanuga said the government is currently spending much on recurrent expenditures, adding that it will be difficult for the government to spend all their money on paying workers.
He said: “Well, it’s very simple. I think the demand is outrageous. If you ask Mr. Ajaero or our brother, who is the President of the TUC, Osifo, how much do they pay their drivers or their lowest-paid workers, how much do they pay their cleaners? Can they pay them N500,000? Can they pay them N615,000? It’s unrealistic.
“We have bloated civil service at all levels. The government is keeping them as a social service because it doesn’t have other jobs for them.
“The last time someone gave the census of the federal civil servants, they are said to be about 50,000. I am not talking about the police, army or those employed by some agencies. I am talking about the hard-core civil servants.
“If you visit the Federal Secretariat, you will see them milling round. You do not expect much productivity from them. Yet these are people Ajaero wants the Federal Government to pay N615,000.
“There are still people who are self employed, people who are doing their own businesses, to whom government has responsibility to do roads, provide healthcare, provide education, and others. So, labour should be realistic.
“From what I have seen so far, they are unserious and unrealistic with their outlandish demand. I know that what the President has been promising is not just a minimum wage but a living wage.
“It’s too early now to say this is what government will agree to. But I think they are still negotiating. In the coming weeks, they will agree on a figure and then announce it to the Nigerian people.
“Then we have to be worried whether the states have the earning power to pay whatever the minimum wage agreed on because some states found it difficult to pay the old minimum wage of N30,000.
“I read a few days ago that Zamfara state government, which failed to pay the N30,000 current minimum wage, announced that they will pay. If some states have not paid minimum wage announced by President Muhammadu Buhari five years ago, it is an indication that the states will also fail to meet the new minimum wage. So labour needs to be realistic.
“In my own view, I think what labour should be talking about is how to make affordable housing available, how to reduce transport cost, how to make food cheap and affordable to our people because by the time you spend less money on food, less money on transport, education, and other things, the earning power will improve. I don’t believe in quantum of money; it will not solve the problem.
“We have seen all the wage increases in the past. They ended up creating more frustration to the workers.”

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