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Nigerian workers and the wage increase rigmarole

The civil servants – both at the federal and state levels – play pivotal and significant roles in the formation of different government policies and…

The civil servants – both at the federal and state levels – play pivotal and significant roles in the formation of different government policies and the execution of them. Civil servants who are specialists in diverse fields of human learning help to formulate government policies regarding matters they are experts in. And they are the people who will execute those policies. 

So, they are indisputably the fulcrum or engine room of government. An efficient civil service will drive developmental initiatives in a country. That is the chief reason why the remuneration, promotion, recruitment, and training and re-training of civil servants should not be treated with levity by both the federal and state governments. 

Nigeria’s underdevelopment is partly caused by the inefficiency of the civil service and the corruption inherent in its civil service both at the federal and state levels. 

That civil servants in Nigeria are treated badly is an incontestable fact. For example, in some states, civil servants are paid their salaries based on the whims and caprices of their states’ governors. The ill-treatment of civil servants by state governors had pushed some of them to commit the despicable and abominable act of harakiri.

Again, the archetypal Nigerian civil servants are not burning with revolutionary and patriotic zeal. Rather, they are sycophantic people, who rat and snitch on their colleagues and ingratiate themselves with political leaders so as to achieve their self-interests. Their sycophantic and fawning attitude explains why our political leaders treat them with utmost disrespect and suspicion. 

Now, the labour leaders and the government are fighting over what will be the new minimum wage for workers. Both parties will, no doubt, reach a consensus on the matter. However, the problem lies in the fact that many states in Nigeria are too financially emasculated to continuously pay the huge wage bills that will result from the increment on workers’ salaries. 

Yet, incredibly, and ironically, too, our political leaders in both the federal and legislative arms of government earn jumbo salaries, even though our economy is in the woods. While they live in opulence, millions of Nigerians are trapped in multidimensional poverty. Each night, they go to bed on empty stomachs, but our political leaders are busy dipping their hands in our exchequer to line their pockets. 

So, back to the matter of the NLC/TUC-Government recurring disagreements on workers’ minimum wage, the solution lies in our leaders’ revamping of our comatose economy and our country’s return to the practice of true fiscal federalism. For example, a state government that is financially buoyant because it generates its own revenue can take care of its workers’ monthly salaries. And it can train and retrain its civil servants in order for them to carry out their duties efficiently. 

When civil servants are paid living wages, bright minds will find civil service jobs attractive. And they will join it. We should know that only brilliant and well-educated civil servants can help to formulate workable governmental policies, the implementation of which will leapfrog our economy to the top and place our country on the path of irreversible technological growth and rapid industrialisation. 

Chiedu Uche Okoye, Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State


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