The presidential candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Professor Kingsley Moghalu, has described the current Nigerian minimum wage of N18,000 as a ‘poverty wage’, and is calling for better, more sustainable pay for workers.
He said this in a statement dated October 22, 2018, noting that those who earn the current minimum wage, live on $1.67 per day – a situation he describes as tragic.
His comments come amidst the ongoing disagreements between the government and labour leaders over the amount to be fixed as the new minimum wage.
While the Federal Government says it is capable of paying N24,000, state governments say they are only capable of paying N22,500, as against the N30,000 requested by the workers.
Amidst the disagreements, failure to reach a conclusion and meet the demands of the workers, they (the workers) have threatened to embark on another industrial action starting from November 6.
Moghalu, however, says if he is elected President in 2019, he has plans to quickly facilitate agreements on a new minimum wage, if he is elected President in 2019.
“This is tragic, and it indicates one of the things that government must do to reduce extreme poverty in the country. The global benchmark for extreme poverty is living on $1.90, or less, per day.”
Moghalu said he had been monitoring the protracted negotiations for a new minimum wage between President Muhammadu Buhari administration and the labour leaders.
He said a token increase will not do, and neither would a decision that is inspired by populist political promises that are not implementable or sustainable.
“I will bring insight and expertise in economic management to lead a quick review and decision on the minimum wage,” said Moghalu, a former deputy governor at the Central Bank of Nigeria (2009 – 2014), who later became a Professor of the Practice in International Business and Public Policy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University in Massachusetts, USA, from 2015 to 2017.
“The National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Act 2011 raised the minimum wage from N7,500 to N18,000. In recent years, however, many states of the federation have been defaulting in meeting their salary obligations to their workers.
“Salary arrears run into five months and above in many states. At the federal level, the non-debt recurrent expenditure is N3.5 trillion in the 2018 budget and debt service obligation is N2.01 trillion.
“The addition of both figures, N5.51 trillion, amounts to 78% of the projected total government revenue for the year.”
He therefore said, one of his three major policy goals was to fight and win a decisive war against poverty and unemployment in Nigeria.