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NLC: MISSING THE MEANING OF MINIMUM.

By Bala Ibrahim

For those, whose precious time I have been wasting with my nonsensical write ups, they have been at a relief for some time, because I was reasonable enough to go away on sabbatical.

However, because of the insensitivity of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, I was compulsorily compelled to recall my IPad, and resume the business of disturbing their peace, starting with today’s heartlessness by way of a strike.

Yes, the NLC’s, constant, swift, and speedy way of embarking on strike every time they are in dispute with their employers, is nothing but the arrogant exhibition of the absence of concern for the welfare of others, including that of yours truly.

It may interest the reader to know that this writer was once a unionist, a unionist that belonged to the radical left, or far left, as the lexicon in use then, for referring to the people with leftist ideologies within the political spectrum.

But that was when ideology and unionism were hand in hand with honesty and strong moral principles. Without any fear, I can boldly say, the reverse is the case today, with the NLC hallmarking such rascality.

At the risk of being branded as an apologist of market fundamentalism, I intend to tilt this article in the direction of castigating the NLC, so if you are sympathetic to the NLC, please discontinue reading.

As I write this article, the NLC, alongside its partner in crime, the Trade Union Congress, TUC, have declared what they call an indefinite strike. Sadly I was told, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, the NUJ, which is the union of my colleagues, has also joined, against the wisdom of rational thinking.

For starters, to push home their hardheartedness, or raw ruthlessness, the NLC, under the leadership of Joe Ajaero, who happens to be a journalist by calling, and a member of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, was quick to shut down the national grid, forcing the country to go on total darkness. When I think of the distress and discomfort that would visit poor patients in public hospitals, my instinct is to send innumerable invectives to the NLC. How does compounding the problems of the poor help your plight as a worker? If the aim is to cripple the comfort of those in power, sorry, wrong number! They have enough resources to survive in unhindered luxury, beyond the period of the strike.

The timing of the strike also coincides with when the 2024/2025 West African Examinations Council, WAEC, exams are going on. So while Nigerian students, alongside their counterparts in Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone, are busy writing the exams that would shape their academic and future pathways, the NLC, for it’s lack of pity, has chosen to frustrate that ambition.

This is nothing but naked cruelty on the side of the NLC, under the leadership of Joe Ajaero, whose tenure is marked by the lack of public trust, because of his questionable principles, which seem tilted politically towards the opposition, and gives priority to self welfare over the welfare of the nation.

I have listened to the arguments of the NLC on the issue of minimum wage, and every time they talk, I cannot but say they goofed.

Their understanding of the word minimum, makes mockery of the ambition of the word. The last time I checked the dictionary, the meaning of the word minimum is, the least, or smallest amount, or quantity POSSIBLE or ATTAINABLE.

The same dictionary gave the meaning of possible as, able to be done or ACHIEVED. Nigeria is a country with dwindling GDP and GNP, with nearly 300 million people, which according to statistics, has only about 60 million in employment, with almost 10 million in the labour market and the balance of more that 200 million are either unemployable or simply surviving through the private sector.

If my mathematics is helpful, it means the bulk of the country’s resources is simply spent on the employed minority, by way of salaries. Yet the employed, the unemployed and those in the private sector go to the same market.

If the logic of equity is engaged, Labour should be reprimanded for missing the meaning of minimum, because their demand of N500,000 per month can not be feasible, can not be possible and can not be achievable. In fact, if we go by the provisions of conscience, even the N60,000 offered by the government is more than magnanimous.

How much would those without employment get?

The increase would increase the amount of money in circulation and instantly ignite inflation, which would affect the poor, the unemployed and those in private capacity most. Indeed, wants are insatiable but in the search for wants, we should endeavour to be reasonable.

The Nigerian economic situation today is so pathetic that whoever has a job, should be extra grateful to God.

I have argued on a number of fora, and my position is constant: that the salary structure in Nigeria is simply hopeless. Yes hopeless, because the take-home pay of the average worker cannot take him any where near home.

That is even for those that are fortunate enough to have a home. For those in retirement, the situation is more pathetic. But rather than think of a straight solution to the problem, which would involve addressing the ways and means of reducing the excesses of political office holders, as well as forcing the government to block areas of leakages and reduce the cost of governance, the NLC is busy comparing the salaries of political office holders and those in permanent employment.

This is simply illogical. Corruption is the root cause of the problem and not giving more money to the privileged few.

Labour should press for a change in the style of leadership in Nigeria, so that leaders can be forced to imbibe prudence.

If that is done and done well, it would reduce wastage dramatically, and free more funds for the benefit of the bulk of Nigerians, that are not living on salary, and who also have a right to everything,including the minimum resources of the country.

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