Meagre Minimum Wage, fuel price hike and the mythology of relieving the burden of Nigerians

By Momoh, Emmanuel Omeiza
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If Nigeria were to be a movie, then the various events that continue to unravel incessantly could be regarded as episodes, scenes and acts. The just concluded week witnessed a jamboree of activities which when given a closer glimpse could be regarded as double-sided as it was both confusing and amusing.

One was the minimum wage saga which sought to tear the fabrics of both Labour unions and the government and the order was the sudden hike in the price of petroleum products which generated heated arguments and controversies among Nigeria's diverse polity.

From the standpoint of truth and reality, both events cannot be said to be new as they have been issues that have continued to ravage and be the centrepiece of many discussions.

For Nigerian workers, the struggle for minimum wage dates back to the early 80s when many industrial organizations were established to fight for the interest of their members. The inactions and lopsidedness of the ruling class in implementing the tenets of the !minimum wage bill has continued to be the rationale for the incessant industrial actions by members of the nation's workforce.

On the other hand, the brouhaha which has continued to surround the price of fuel cannot be said to be new as there have been different efforts by different governments to set a standard meter for the price of oil. This is toward making life meaningful for all.

All the above measures are tailored towards reducing the rate of poverty which has continued to devour the nation effortlessly. However, with the continued refusal of the government to implement the demands of the minimum wage bill and its incessant increase in the price of petroleum products, one is forced to ask, how realistic is the plan to rescue Nigerians and relieve their burdens?

To say that the burden which any citizen of Nigeria is forced to bear isn't heavy will be to make an illusion or assumption. What would you have to say about estimated and crazy billings, or about the various charges in the form of levies and taxes. Mere calls and sending messages which most times are within a jiffy are taxed exorbitantly. Would we claim to be ignorant of naive of the various payments which Nigerians are forced to pay for which the services are not rendered? It is even as though sleeping is being literally taxed exorbitantly.

What has this resulted to overtime? Skyrocketed prices of foods and other essential items, large-scale poverty, hunger, sicknesses and mass deaths.

Different reports by reputable organizations both local and international have revealed the fact that Nigeria's rate of economic development continues to be in a downward course. This may without making untrue claims be one of the many reasons poverty continues to stare us in the face.

The mounting debts incurred by a reckless administration that has failed to put a check on financial spendings and management are the results we have been forced to live with overtime. And who do you think are bearers of the yoke? The masses, the populace, market women who continue to troop in their numbers to the streets demanding for the dividends of democracy which seems more like a mirage.

A litre of petroleum rising to above two hundred naira makes a sane man to continue to grapple to give interpretation to the essence of governance and politics. And amidst all these, we are forced into believing that the government puts the interest of the masses at heart.

This is even when workers continue to grumble on the poor wages they are forced to take home. The endless imbroglio involving the government and labour unions as well as civil society organizations are uncalled for if the principles guiding management and administration can be adhered to strictly.

The federal government’s claim is that there is the need for a hike in the prices of petroleum products due to the fact that the nation's financial treasury being depleted are all evidences of financial water and unbridled spendings.

When other countries are seeking ways to ease the burden of economic loss occasioned by the pandemic off the backs of their citizens, our country has as it were successfully mapped out ways to ensure citizens continue to endure sufferings.

I am of the opinion that we all collectively need to get the missing link and fix the errors in it. Our collective inability to do this may continue to be the clog in the wheel of progress. after all, a hungry man is an angry man.

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