The Trade Union Congress has berated the Minister of Finance and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, for allegedly hinting at a Federal Government plan to reduce workers’ salary, ostensibly as a way of reducing the cost of governance.
It said to come up with such an idea at a time the nation is still grappling with the effect of the coronavirus pandemic and millions of people have been rendered jobless for months is wicked and ungodly.
In a statement jointly signed by Comrades Quadri Olaleye and Musa-Lawal Ozigi, president and secretary-general, respectively, TUC asked President Muhammadu Buhari to call his appointees to order, so as to refrain from making “unreasonable statements” that are capable of fueling more crises in the nation.
It stressed that appointees of government, not workers, are responsible for the country’s sorry state.
The labour union said the government knows what it needs to do to cut down the cost of governance; it only lacks the political will to do so.
“May we remind the minister that as at Q4 2020, the unemployment rate stood at 33.3 per cent and it is projected to rise even further in the coming months while the rate of inflation as at March, 2021 stood at 18.17 per cent. The consequential effects of these are that we now have more idle hands capable of going into crime.
“Also, even the so-called N30,000 minimum wage which some states are yet to commence payment has been rubbished by the high rate of inflation. It is important to also remind her that there is a law backing National Minimum Wage,” it said.
While agreeing that it is indeed imperative for the government to reduce the cost of governance, TUC said such must be done the right way.
It said the time has come for the government to significantly reduce the remuneration of political office holders, who it said have so much money – which is why they can afford to “arm thugs (idle youths) to snatch ballot boxes during elections; give bribe, launder money thereby creating scarcity of FOREX, buy houses abroad and do other despicable things.”
“As the minister of finance, we had expected her ministry to work collaboratively with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to come up with policies that would shape the country economically.
“Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) have continued to dwindle in the country despite our economic potential. Investors are discouraged from investing due to insecurity, unfavourable policies or a general lack of a suitable business environment. Maybe she is not aware that Ghana has become a business hub for investors.”
TUC also warned states that have not commenced payment (of the national minimum wage) to start, and called on the government to ensure the protection of jobs and reduce the cost of governance by a substantial reduction of salaries of political office holders, beginning with the executive, members of the National Assembly, House of Assembly, chairmen of local governments, councillors and aides to politicians.