- Hails 8-Point Renewed Hope Agenda On Living Wage
AS THE nation grapples with the wage-related labour disputes in some states, the Director-General of Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS), Ilorin, Comrade Issa Aremu, has commended President Bola Tinubu for his repeated commitment to pay adequate living wages as a growth strategy to drive economic recovery, eradicate poverty and promote national prosperity.
Aremu spoke at the recently concluded 7th National Policy Dialogue on “Living Wages and Corruption in Nigeria”, organised by the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria (ACAN), the training arm of the Independent National Corrupt and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), in collaboration with MINILS, with support from the MacArthur Foundation.
The Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Bako Lalong, declared the Policy Dialogue open in Abuja.
Moderating the panel of discussants on the policy dialogue, Comrade Aremu said Nigeria must urgently resolve the problem of low pay in order to fight corruption in the public service. He observed that the collapse of real wage as a result of high inflation, currency devaluation and high cost of living had produced “a new class of working poor” and “even working beggars” who could hardly resist the temptation of graft.
The Director General therefore called for “a comprehensive package of monetary and non-wage benefits” to ensure what he called “an ease of work and ease of living” just “as in ease of doing business”.
According to him, the critical success factor for the 8-point agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is “well remunerated productive work force”.
“Labour creates sustainable wealth, but that is if the wealth is not denied them through miserable low pay and unpaid minimum pay that do not guarantee even minimum living and minimum productivity in the first instance,” Aremu said.
While commending the repeated commitment of President Tinubu on the imperative of living wages, the Director General urged the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to constructively engage the federal government to ensure decent work, secured, productive and well-paid jobs.
“Given President Tinubu’s loud commitment to living wage during 2023 campaign, in his 2023 May Day and at the recent Cabinet Retreat, “Living Wage” could very well be the 9th point item of the Renewed Hope Agenda, which should excite organised labour,” Aremu noted.
The keynote speaker, Professor Dafe Otobo, at the dialogue stated that to effectively address living wages and corruption in Nigeria, it was important for government to focus on provision of basic amenities and enabling environment for its citizens.
According to him, the goal of living wage is to allow employees have enough income for an adequate standard of living adding that the benefits of living wage would boost employee satisfaction and higher productivity”.
In his welcome remarks, Prof. Owasanoye underscored the importance of the theme, noting that the Policy Dialogue was not only timely but necessary looking at Nigeria’s current socio-economic realities which calls for urgent equitable living wage policy for the country.
He revealed that a survey conducted by ICPC showed that there had been several minimum wage policies since 1981 but little or no attention had been paid to actual living wages for public servants.
The outgoing ICPC boss explained that it was necessary to take into cognizance the fact that the public service was the vehicle through which government at all levels delivered services to the people. Therefore, neglecting a fundamental aspect of public servants could result to corrupt practices in the service.
In his words, “This Policy Dialogue on Living Wages and Corruption becomes very necessary when we take cognizance of the fact that the public service is the vehicle through which government at all levels deliver a broad range of public goods and services to the people. Invariably, a corrupt public service inhibits the distribution and timely supply of these public goods and services in equal measure to every citizen, thereby marginalizing the weaker and more vulnerable segments of the nation’s population.’’ He recommended that all stakeholders develop and contribute a set of indicators relevant to the working conditions of public servants in order to enrich the national living wage policy document.