National Assembly and national minimum wage

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Last week, the Senate removed wages from the Exclusive Legislative List and placed it in the Concurrent List, as part of the Constitution amendment process. Stripped of legislative language, it means there will no longer be a National Minimum Wage in Nigeria and each state can pay whatever it deemed fit.

Defending the decision, Chairman, National Assembly Conference Committee on Constitution Review and Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, said: “Our belief is that the constitution is not what you subject to the whims and caprices of individuals or their emotions…

We are running a federation in Nigeria and our findings are that most federations all over the world allow wage on Concurrent List. The reason is that fingers can never be equal in a federation. We have rich states and we have poor states.

What they are paying as wages in Borno may not be enough for somebody in Lagos. Also what they are paying in Enugu, for instance, may not be enough for a worker in Abuja. So we believe that each state will have their separate challenges…What we are now saying is that each state should be able to decide what their minimum would look like”.

It is saddening to behold how these clowns in Senate think! They have fed so fat on Nigerian money, that they seemed to have vacated all rationality! National Minimum Wage is one of the few gains of the Nigerian people, yet, Senators believe “best practice” to copy from other federations is working people’s wages deregulation.

They are not “deregulating” the huge sums that they award themselves as Members of the National Assembly; nor have they pleaded “poverty” of the states, to seek reduction in emoluments that go to the Legislature and other top guns in states.

In truth, we are faced with CLASS INJUSTICE. The ruling class wants to take even the little that goes to the Nigerian working people and the poor. When they weave yarns about “other federations”, they must issued with the riposte that Nigeria has the RIGHT to do what suits it. We shouldn’t copy the inequalities of other capitalist countries.

Thankfully, for the first time in a long time, our slumbering labour leadership seems to have awaken to the danger that the Ike Ikweremadus of Senate constitute to Nigeria’s working people. We MUST DECISIVELY REJECT any effort to take National Minimum Wage out of the Exclusive Legislative List. By extension, the Labour Movement should begin mobilizing the Nigerian people to ensure that reactionary, anti-people individuals like Ike Ekweremadu should not return to Senate.

We must be interested in the worldview of people who make laws for our country otherwise even more anti-people, anti-worker legislation will be rammed down the throat of the country. It is no coincidence that Ike Ekweremadu is Deputy to David Mark who, as Minister of Communications during the military dictatorship, had said that telephones were not for the poor.

Wasn’t the same David Mark an active supporter of Obasanjo’s Third Term Agenda? Yet, when Third Term was defeated, was David Mark not compensated with Senate Presidency by Obasanjo? It is the Senate under the watch of these reactionary individuals that is legislating against a National Minimum Wage! Nigerian working people must reject this undisguised return to slavery!

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