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Soludo cautions Tinubu against unsustainable minimum wage approval

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

Amid ongoing debate over prefarrable minimum wage for workers, the Anambra State Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, has cautioned President Bola Tinubu not to fall into the labour unions trap by approving a minimum wage that would not be sustainable by both public and private employers across the country.

Soludo stated that approving an unsustainable wage standard could create other challenges that further worsen the country’s economic challenges.

He noted that should the president handle the wage debate with kid gloves, it could be the genesis of more problems to come, adding, before approving any minimum wage, there is need for serious conversation between all parties to understand the economic issues at hand.

The governor stressed that the current economic challenges has placed the country at a position that not all state governments and the Organised Private Sector can pay the ₦62,000 being proposed by the Federal Government and the ₦250,000 demand of the organised labour unions.

The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) noted that if the new wage become unbearable for employer, they could further result to laying workers off, saying this may worsen the country’s unemployment rate.

Soludo, who spoke on Wednesday at The Platform Nigeria, a programme by Lagos-based church, Covenant Nation, to mark the 2024 Democracy Day, stressed that he does not envy the president currently.

The governor and his 35 colleagues under the umbrella of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum had previously rejected the wage recommendations made by the Federal Government and labour unions.

Soludo’s caution came hours after the president, in his Democracy Day address, assured Labour that an executive bill on the new national minimum wage for workers would soon be sent to the National Assembly for passage.

However, Soludo said at the best of estimates, the Federal Government revenue won’t exceed ₦17 trillion this year.

“And if you share it with all Nigerians, it comes to ₦6,160 per person, per month, per capita. If you take even the total ₦28. 7 trillion (budget) and share, it will come down to ₦10,000 per capita,” he added.

The governor argued that the private sector employs a huge percentage of the total workforce in the country and not all of them can pay the ₦62,000 proposed by the Federal Government.

Soludo said he spoke with nine entrepreneurs in his state and none of them could pay the proposed amount by Labour.

The Anambra governor said, “The minimum wage thing, everybody is right. The worker is right to say, ‘What am I getting?’ Nobody is asking what does a worker do? We are not asking that question yet. All we are saying is: ‘How much does he need?’ He (the worker) is right, and for me, even if we pay N1 million, it’s not enough.

“But on the other hand, you have to come back to reality; talking about these MSMEs, the schools, churches, and so on and so forth. You will have to pay your driver. We are all in it. Whatever they agree, we will muddle through but maybe after one year, we will need to meet to discuss the consequences.”

“I pity the President because it will all be on his head if the consequences come down, whatever it is, if whatever is negotiated unsustainable or payable or whatever. Months to come, who will bear the responsibility? Not me”.

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