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How can workers win a decent minimum wage in a country like Nigeria?

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How can workers win a decent minimum wage in a country like Nigeria?
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Narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor will naturally solve a lot of inherent problems in our society. If the majority of the Nigerian population can be gainfully employed and there is equality in the society, kidnapping, arm-robbery, terrorism are some of the crimes that would be at the barest minimal.

Taking a look at the national minimum wage, the foot soldiers that fought for it actualization and the cadre of people that have the lion share at the end of the day, we know that our system is not been fair to some extent. Well there are other opinions that am willing to share here.

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As a decent minimum wage can be described as a wage that can provide workers basic necessity of life such as decent food, decent shelter, quality education, quality health, and shelter, etc. adsbygoogle || []).push({}); , workers will continue to crave for descent income. Though, getting new minimum wage has always been a struggle, this is not a new phenomenon in the whole world as a piece and in Nigeria especially. Struggle for minimum wage can be traced as far back as the start of the labour market itself.

Before the coming of Hassan Sunmonu as first president of the Nigeria Labour Congress in 1978, there was no history of a structured minimum wage for workers in Nigeria. It must be said that the Udoji pay package of 1975 was not regarded as a structured minimum wage, because it was not negotiated by workers’ representatives.

The then president of the NLC was encouraged to begin agitation for a minimum wage following a pay rise for political leaders at the time. He called for a N300 per month minimum wage in 1981. This led to a major strike, which culminated in President Shehu Shagari and the Hassan Sunmonu-led executive agreeing to a N125 per month pay package.

Those that led the negotiation on behalf of the Federal Government included the then Vice President Dr. Alex Ekwueme, the then Senate President Dr. Joseph Wayas, and Speaker Edwin Ume-Ezeoke.

When the late Pascal Bafyau was NLC President. Adams Oshiomhole led another negotiation in 1989/90 talks as Bafyau’s deputy. The discussions resulted in workers receiving N250 per month.

During the administration of General Abdulsalami Abubakar an opportunity for another round of negotiation presented itself in 1989/90,. The minimum wage was reviewed to N3,000. The team was not an organised labour body but a committee of industrial unions, led by Sylvester Ejiofor.

Another negotiation took place while Oshiomhole was NLC President between 2000 and 2001. Demands for N5,500 for state workers and N7,500 for their federal counterparts and oil-producing states were agreed to. There were unique features to this deal; provisions were made that the following year (2002) there would be a 15 per cent increase across board, and a 25 per cent increase in 2003. These, however, were not fulfilled. The current N18,000 minimum wage, due for a review since 2015, was negotiated under NLC President Abdulwahed Omar.

Recently, N30,000 minimum wage has been approved after several face-off between the organised labour union and the federal government, what’s the value in real time? Is this minimum wage enough to sustain a descent family?

In 1983 for instance, the minimum wage was N125. That was a time that N1 is almost equal to $2. By this, it means that in 1983, Nigeria’s minimum wage was about $220. Between that period and now, several devaluation of our currency had occurred. When the N18000 minimum wage was signed into law years back, during when a dollar was roughly N165 which summed up to a little over $100. Far below the minimum wage got in 1983, which was over $200.

Today, N30,000 minimum wage is below $100. The real question is, if the value of our minimum wage in 1983 is almost tripling that of today, can we say that we are doing great or not? We must then ask ourselves, what a decent minimum wage is.

During the just concluded presidential campaign, People’s Trust Presidential candidate, Gbenga Olawepo Hashim promised to pay a minimum wage of N50,000. He made it clear at the time that even N50,000 is not enough as a minimum wage, but it’s still better than what is currently obtainable;

Similarly, Africa Action Congress Presidential Candidate, Omoyele Sowore also promised to pay a N100,000 minimum wage. In his views, if we want to get the best from our workers, we must pay them a decent minimum wage and to him, N100,000 is that decent wage.

So, how can workers get this decent minimum wage? The answer is not clear, especially when most states didn’t pay when the N18000 minimum wage was signed to law. What is however clear is that, we must change the working culture of government establishments so that workers can be as productive as those in the private sectors.  Productive workers can certainly negotiate for better pay. Even the employer will do almost everything it takes to make them happy. But in a situation where government see paying workers as favour, partly due to lack of productivity, it becomes difficult to negotiate for improvement or decent pay

This is especially because the value of work is not inherent in worker, but depends on where worker work and his/her level of performance. As workers will be more productive in some occupations, industries, and firms than in others, and most workers also have considerable control over the productivity of their work hours. All economic systems interested in maximising output thus face the problem of devising mechanisms for allocating workers to the sectors where their potential productivity is highest and for eliciting high levels of performance within organisations.

The demand for labour ultimately depends on the value of the output produced by labour, evaluated at the market prices that consumers are willing to pay. At prevailing wages, employers hire more workers only if doing so adds to profits – if the value of additional output produced exceeds the additional costs. At any given moment, higher wage costs reduce profits and hence employment, and conversely. (The tension between wages as the price (cost) of labour and wages as worker income is seen most directly here – higher wages imply higher income for some workers but less employment because of higher (wage) costs.) Labour supply depends on the alternatives available to workers in each labour market compared with the value they put on leisure time. Workers choose the job that maximises net compensation (including both monetary and non-monetary benefits and costs). Once a job choice is made, a voluntary job change will occur only if higher net compensation is offered at another job.

The conflicting interests of employers (demand) and workers (supply) rather than administrative announcements produce a market wage. Deviations from the market wage rapidly become apparent. Employers offering wages below the market rate experience high quit rates (voluntary departures) and recruiting difficulties, while those offering above-market wages have relatively high labour costs and many job applicants.

These forces move wages toward the market equilibrium wage that balances the amounts of labour demanded and supplied.

Shifts in either labour demand or labour supply can produce changes in wages. If demand for an industry’s product increases, i.e. consumers are willing to pay more for the industry’s output, each firm in the industry can increase profits by hiring more workers, even though a higher (relative) wage offer may be necessary to attract workers to the industry from other jobs. Conversely, there will be downward pressure on pay as it becomes less profitable to employ workers in declining sectors, a process that encourages workers to move to growing sectors, thereby facilitating the reallocation of labour resources in response to structural changes.

It becomes two thing to respond to this question perfectly, first, workers must be up and doing in order to be seen as an asset and not liability. Secondly, labour leaders must stand for workers and not for themselves to achieve a decent Minimum Wage in Nigeria. 

The Publisher, Times Nigeria Magazine, Abdulrahman Aliagan said that “Nigeria workers can actually win a decent Minimum Wage only if they are ready to contribute to the nation’s economy greatly. Nigerian workers are yet to convince government that they are celebrants and not tolerants. From the look of thing Governments at various level are not celebrating their workers they are tolerating them.

“Government is ready to do away with so many workers and no worker is ready to do away with government. From the recruitment level to deliverables it is a square peg in a round hole. Government is nothing but a business and in any business there must be a corresponding value, if business is not bringing value then it does not worth doing.

“To be realistic, can any private business owner runs his or her business the way civil servants run government businesses? If answer is no, then workers cannot win a decent Minimum Wage in Nigeria because they are not giving decent services.

“Take a visit to any Federal Ministry in Nigeria on Monday and see what going on there, some even is brought their products and markets to sell, while some engage in talks from morning till the closing time. So as an employer how do you happy paying somebody who contributes nothing a robust wage? Government are forced to pay workers not that they are happy to pay.

“Let us look at what is happening at the Local government levels, throughout Nigeria no local government is functioning optimally with the exemption of Lagos, may be Port Harcourt, go to my state in Kwara some are not even going to office and yet they will be clamouring for wage rise and this is happening almost in all part of the country. Nigeria’s workers population supposed to be an asset but it turns around to be liability.

“To answer this question very frankly, Nigeria workers cannot win decent minimum wage unless they contribute decently. When they are begin to be seen as a factor, when they are seen as an asset and not when they are being seen as liability. Until then, government will continue to take workers for a ride.

“If this can be achieved, then it behoves on the labour leaders to jettison personal gains and stand for the interest of Nigerian workers, history have shown that labour leaders at various organisation are not speaking the minds of workers rather they speak for themselves, labour leaders compromised and collaborate with government to create loopholes for government to take on workers.”

Well, I think a tour of the Scandinavian societies may provide an insight to this problem of national minimum wages.

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

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AfCFTA: Spotlighting The Emergence Of One African Market

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By Joshua Olomu

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), with its secretariat in Accra Ghana, is a free trade area with 54 of the 55 African Union (AU) nations as participating members.

It was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement brokered by the AU, and was signed by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018.

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The free-trade area is reputed to be the largest in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.

The AfCFTA initially seeks to reduce trade barriers between the different pillars of the African Economic Community, and eventually use these regional organisations as building blocks for the ultimate goal of an Africa-wide customs union. adsbygoogle || []).push({});

The free -trade area was expected to come into effect after 22 of the signing countries ratified the agreement which occurred in April 2019 when The Gambia became the 22nd country to ratify it.

It came into force on May 30, 2019, as the required 22 countries threshold had deposited their instruments of ratification.

As of August this year, there are 54 signatories, of which at least 30 have ratified and 28 have deposited their instruments of ratification.

On August 18, 2020, AfCFTA Secretariat was commissioned and handed over to the AU by the President of Ghana His Excellency Nana  Akuffo Addo.

The Secretariat, an autonomous body within the AU system, will be responsible for coordinating the implementation of the agreement, with Mr. Wamkele  Mene, a South African, as its first Secretary-General.

The Secretary General is expected to provide leadership and technical support for AfCFTA Secretariat, management of its day-to-day activities and the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement, among other functions.

Although the Secretariat has independent legal personality, it is expected to work closely with the AU Commission and receive its budget from the AU.

The general objectives of the AfCFTA agreement  is to create a single market for goods and services, deepens the economic integration of the Africa continent and  establish a liberalised market through multiple rounds of negotiations.

Among other objectives, the free trade area is expected to pave the way for creating a customs union and grow intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation across the continent.

It is geared towards achieving competitiveness of member states within Africa and in the global market and to encourage industrial development through diversification and regional value chain development, agricultural development and food security.

The AfCFTA is set to be implemented in phases, and some of the future phases are still under negotiation.

 Some areas of  the agreement were found on trade protocols, dispute settlement procedures, customs cooperation, trade facilitation and rules of origin, which covers goods and services liberalisation.

 There was also agreement to reduce tariffs on 90 percent of all goods, and each nation is permitted to exclude 3 percent of goods from this agreement.

However, as trading among countries is expected to commence on January 1,2021, economic experts, industry watchers and players have continued to express concerns if the continent was really prepared  for  ‘One Africa Trade.’

They noted that although it was envisioned that the free trade area will lead to increased competition, innovation and prosperity for Africa, countries should beware of anything that would undermine local manufacturers and entrepreneurs.

They expressed concern if the agreement adequately envisaged anti-competitive practices such as dumping, as surge in imports will likely threaten output, jobs and investment in the manufacturing sector and local infant industries.

However, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa ( ECA) said  that AfCFTA  will  harmonise investment rules between its member countries and the rest of the world in order to create equal opportunity.

Mr Stephen Karingi, Director for Regional Integration at the ECA, said that investment protocol  and   regulations  that would provide level playing field for members were being put in place.

Karingi said :“The AfCFTA is a very deep and broad agreement that is not just focusing on trade in goods and trade in services.

 “It is looking at those issues that would make this regional integration functional through competition policy, intellectual property rights, investment protocol and also e-commerce.”

The AfCFTA, Secretary-General, Mr. Wamkele  Mene, said Africa was open for business and mutually beneficial investment thereby creating decent jobs and improving livelihoods.

According to him, the AfCFTA should not be perceived to be benefiting only a handful of relatively industrialised countries in Africa but all African businesses.

He therefore emphasised the need to empower women and young people in Africa as they often face significant challenges when attempting to benefit from trade agreements.

He said: “I therefore intend to take concrete steps to ensure that women and young Africans are at the heart of implementation of the AfCFTA.

“In due course, I will announce specific measures that can be put in place to enable women, young Africans and SMEs, to benefit from the AfCFTA to achieve the objective of inclusive benefits of the AfCFTA.”

Nigeria, the largest market in Africa, with a population of over 200 million people, was among the last nations to sign the agreement on July 7, 2019 at the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union on ACFTA, and on November 11, 2020 its Federal Executive council approved its ratification.

At that time, the Nigerian government said its non-participation was a delay and not a withdrawal, as it was consulting with local businesses in order to ensure private sector buy-in to the agreement.

However, following the signing of the AfCFTA agreement, President Muhammadu Buhari, directed the constitution of a National Action Committee.(NAC) on its implementation.

Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment,   is the Chairman of the NAC,with  Mr Francis Anatogu, the Senior Special Assistant to the  President on Public Sector as its Secretary.

The mandate of the NAC is to coordinate relevant MDA’s and stakeholder groups to implement the trade readiness interventions detailed in the AfCFTA Impact and Readiness Assessment Report, including projects, policies and programmes.

As AU member countries look forward to starting the ‘One African Market’ on January 1, 2021, it is expected   that the continent becomes an investment hub and bring even prosperity in the long term.

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

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African Women Entrepreneurs in Covid -19 Era

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Ebere Agozie

In spite of the giant strides Nigerian women have been making in the world of business, a new reality is staring them – along with the rest of humanity – in the face: COVID-19.

The prevalence and astonishingly rapid spread of the virus had the whole world literally hyper-ventilating, wondering what had hit it.

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At first, there was fear that, given the predominantly rural setting of Africa, and given also the fact that awareness about the pandemic has been slow in catching on, the worst was about to happen.

The expected annihilation may not have happened on the scale feared in Africa, but the presence of the coronavirus in the continent has remained a huge cause for concern. adsbygoogle || []).push({});

This is especially so for women whose case is further exacerbated by the very nature of African culture.

Incidentally, many of the recommendations given by health experts as to the required distance between people have of course to do with what makes life pleasurable.

Going by the above observation, one wonders how women will be able to stick to these recommendations, considering the roles they play in the society.

In Africa where there are basically no institutions that take care of the elderly and children with special needs, the challenge of taking care of them is dumped on the door step of women.

Women as care givers do not only take care of the young children at home, feed and bathe them, but also their husbands and their aged ones.

Even as the typical belief or culture of African women revolve around domestic chores, some of these women are also the breadwinners of their homes and so must go out to work to put food on the table.

African women are very enterprising, and this could primarily be put down to the prevalent poverty in the continent and the need to ensure the welfare of their families.

There are those that are involved in subsistence farming, there are others that engage in petty trade and commerce, there is the working class, and there are those that are the corporate world, albeit not many of them in this last category.

There are equally the full-time, stay-at-home housewives, although this class is shrinking by the day as, increasingly, women in Africa perceive the need to get involved in fending for the family.

In this attempt to examine women entrepreneurship in Africa today, we will look closely at the Nigerian situation.

With regard to enterprise, Nigerian women can be spread into four categories.

The first group is the full-time housewives, the stay-at-home housewives. As the name implies, these women simply stay at home to take care of the family, raise the children and generally run the home, while the husbands go out to earn a living.

Most of them are to be found in the northern parts of the country, mainly due to religious constraints since, by reason of their religion, they are not expected to mix very freely with the public, among whom there usually a lot of males.

This set of women is no longer as large as it was in the recent past as the increasingly dire economic conditions faced by most Nigerians make it necessary for more hands to be on deck in providing for the family.

Simply put, staying at home and waiting for the husbands to, as it were, bring home the bacon, is becoming less attractive by the day. It is a luxury that most families can ill afford today.

A second category is the petty traders and the subsistence farmers. This sub group is the most prevalent in our society. They make up the bulk of women in Nigeria and are found in far flung parts.

Nigerian women are so focused, so family-centric, that even when they go to toil in the farm for the family, they would still come home to cook for everyone.

Women farmers may be the predominant group, but one class that seems to be surging recently is those engaged in petty trading.

There is hardly any part of the Nigeria, especially in the lower geographical half of the country, where you do not find women engaging in some form of trading or another.

In most communities it is common to see women displaying their wares just about everywhere you look.

Usually, you see just a few items – confectionaries, food items, soup condiments, and the like. But they know how far revenue from such efforts go in supplementing what the men bring home at the end of the day.

There are also other market settings which are generally dominated by women. These markets vary in size – from just a cluster of a few roughly constructed huts, to extremely large, well-organised and thriving markets that play host to thousands of traders, the majority of them, women.

Enterprising women range from just petty traders, to big time business women whose businesses run into hundreds of millions of naira.

Let us not forget also the working class women that abound in the civil service and in private concerns.

A lot of women have built very successful careers in the public service and they, too, deserve accolades for contributing in steadying the ship of the Nigerian state.

It has actually been proven, over time, that women have shown a rare dedication and conscientiousness in the discharge of their responsibilities, such that are now much sought-after in many organisations.

They have also, by this dint of hard work, succeeded in climbing to the highest reaches of such outfits.

These women, however, are among the few who were privileged to have been highly educated and exposed to opportunities that got them to where they are today, leaving the majority of the non educated petty entrepreneurs to struggle daily to make ends meet.

Some of such women are Hajiya Bola Shagaya, an oil and real estate magnate, Uju Ifejika, and arguably the most prominent of them all, 65 year old Folorunsho Alakija, who found her fame and fortune in the oil and fashion industries.

Nigeria is truly blessed, not only in terms of her abundant natural resources, but also (with her large population) in terms of her huge human resources.

And a truly heart-warming proportion of this is made up of women.

All told however, the problem of Covid-19 has impacted rather heavily on Nigerian women, especially the rural dwellers, and just made their efforts to make ends meet more onerous.

It is therefore unimaginable that social distancing could be practiced here by majority of Nigerian women entrepreneurs.

Some of the women are stuck with men, some of who actually think that the coronavirus is an excuse by the governments to siphon public funds.

These men will always demand for sex from their women, even when they are sick, and of course there are also the factors of culture and religion, and so to them, #Social Distancing is not applicable.

Sometimes culture and religion give the women no chance of objecting and they are therefore forced to succumb to their husband’s advances, which sometimes come in the form of commands.

While #Social Distancing is part of prescribed ways of curbing the spread of #COVID-19, it is nonetheless going to be very difficult for some women trying to go about their lives to stay healthy while still carrying the burden of the people around them.

Most women interviewed lamented that their religions and culture have put much burden on them as women.

This has caused many of them to cast around for excuses on the back of indoctrination, almost amounting to brainwashing.

Hajia Fatima Muhammad, a Civil Servant jokingly asked, ‘how can I observe social distancing when my husband will not keep away from me?’

Her religious and cultural beliefs made her feel that women are not supposed to have a say in such matters.

“If he gets infected and still wants to sleep with me, what do I do since I cannot say ‘no’ to him”?

When asked why she would not deny her husband sex until after the pandemic is over to focus on her business she said: “My religion and culture forbid that’’.

Mfon Effiong, a business woman angrily responded, I am a nursing mother, how do I breastfeed my baby?

“I heard more men are infected than women, and more women survive than men even though we still sleep with them and exchange bodily fluids.

“Besides God has seen the burden we carry as women and has thus given us strong systems. I will not be infected in Jesus name,’’ she declared.

From the foregoing, it is clear that the incompatibility of social distancing and the desire to drive women entrepreneurship in Nigeria, and indeed other African settings, is a quandary to most African societies.

There is no easy way out of this predicament and the real or perceived inequality in the society does not help matters, either.

It is therefore clear that the government organs responsible for public education, have their work cut out for them.

More than anything else, there is an urgent need for a much more aggressive grassroots education to let them know that it is about their health, and that of everyone around them.

Entrepreneurship in Nigeria, especially among women, will be the better for it.

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

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You won’t believe the reaction I got when I cried out, read on…

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Alhaji Idris Yusuf of Ajagwumu Village, Dekina Local Government Area, Kogi State.
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You won’t believe the reaction I got when I cried out last week that my late ex-wife is haunting me with court orders. The reaction I got from my late estrange wife,s father, Alhaji Idris Yusuf, Ajagwumu Village, Dekina Local Government Area, Kogi State.

will surprise you!

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Sarat Ojoma Yusuf, the elder sister of my late ex-wife had led court official and a policeman with a truck to my house to pack my properties executing a court order on which bear her late sister Hafsat Urane Yusuf’s name. I had interrogated the rationale behind Sarat Ojoma Yusuf’s right at this material point in time to execute such judgment.

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The story got wide media attention that dozens of media houses and online platforms relayed. push({}); One of the medium that broadcasted the story is operanews.com among others. In fact, Regent Africa Media had a robust insight of the story https://regentafricamedia.org/help-my-dead-ex-wife-still-hunts-me-with-court-orders-abuja-journalist-cries-out/.

Since then, I have waited for official statement from Sarat Ojoma Yusuf’s camp or even the Alhaji Idris Yusuf’s family as to the event and a peak into my offence that warrant unabated oppression and victimisation of me. Every efforts by Journalists to get them talking as at the time of writing this piece met brick walls.

However, Alhaji Idris Yusuf shared the story by operanews.com on his Facebook social media wall and captioned it:

“Those mocking the bereavement of others should be prepared and know that no living beings shall escape death.

“May Allah continue vindicate the just and torment every evil doers.

And any child that denies the parents from sleeping shall never have peace…”

Alhaji Idris Yusuf of Ajagwumu Village, Dekina Local Government Area, Kogi State.
Alhaji Idris Yusuf of Ajagwumu Village, Dekina Local Government Area, Kogi State.
Alhaji Idris Yusuf of Ajagwumu Village, Dekina Local Government Area, Kogi State.
Alhaji Idris Yusuf of Ajagwumu Village, Dekina Local Government Area, Kogi State.

I am surprised at the comment and I inquired as follows, that:

  • Who is the child and who is the parents here?
  • Who is the just and who is the evil doers here?, and
  • Who is mocking the bereavement of others here?

I am still calling on the general public to PLEASE help me inquire, WHAT IS MY REAL OFFENCE TO WARRANT UNABATED VICTIMISATION AND OPPRESSION FROM Alhaji Idris Yusuf’s Family. I demand for answers in clear terms.

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

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