OPINION

#OPINION: Home Truth About The Minimum Wage Controversy By Niniola Adeoti

It is never a mistake to say this government rode to power on the back of state civil servants. A victory well deserved and history will continue to remember those that stood against the ousted dynasty. They are men and women of good intent. They meant well for Kwara and Kwarans and their reward is good governance which they are getting under the AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq-led administration.

Except for naysayers and falsehood peddlers, it is clear like the fifteenth-day moon that this government hit the ground running. Talk about social investment program, education, security, health, civil servants welfare, social infrastructures, among others. This government is here to put haters to shame. AbdulRazaq is doing just that. He is delivering on his promises. He would keep delivering on his promises. So, bitter-enders should brace up; the night is still very long.

While the new talk in Kwara is Labour Congress defying the court injunction to embark on an indefinite strike, one is not left with options than to comment on the new development. As a well-meaning Kwaran and not a sycophant of this administration, it is well understood that the fight is right. Very right and this government should show labour mercy.

They deserve better. But we should not give room for fake news peddlers to take charge of the event before they turn the fight to their fight. Trying to use it to score political points, we should school them on how the issue is as at now assuming they have forgotten so far how the last government left Kwara with penury and debts.

On an average, Kwara gets 4.4bn monthly allocation and spends 2.9bn which is 68% of its total revenue and a spendable component of its IGR on wages. Left with 32% of its revenue to run the government, to build schools, renovate schools, build health care centres, renovate health care centres and to take care of social investment program that this government has embarked on since it came to power.

Just 32% and this government is performing wonderfully well. Let’s now assume the government is ready to pay 30,000 minimum wage. Kwara will now be spending 72% of its monthly revenue, which stands at 3.163bn on wages monthly.

Now let’s do the simple evaluation together, after spending 3.163bn on wages, will 28% be enough to take care of the state of the state? Will the remaining 28% be enough to build new schools? Renovate the existing ones that are due for a renovation? Will it be enough to build and renovate our roads? Should we leave the payment of wages to stop the social investment program? Or the state should turn to a beggar while we seek for loans upon loans? And how do you expect the local government to meet up with the new minimum wage?

With 2.6bn monthly, local government is left with just 5% while 95% of its total revenue goes to payment of salaries — no space for critical infrastructure. No new way of attracting investment and you said the local government is ready for a new minimum wage that would be leaving its purse with the deficit of 300 million naira monthly.

No doubt, the fight is right, but Kwara as at now cannot afford to pay minimum wage. We should all be the judges. After payment of minimum wage, how are we going to renovate and build new schools? What will be left to take care of our roads that are in deplorable state? Who will come from heaven to give us good health care centres that we so desire?

This is a plead to the concerned body to take a critical look at the effects of COVID-19 on our state economy and how the government is trying everything possible within its purview to get their agitation addressed, and get back to work.

Kwara Labour Congress should not allow the opposition to turn them to an instrument of vices in the state. The closure of revenue house is not the right way to come. Or how do you expect the government to get money for the new minimum wage while the revenue house is locked? We should think about another better way to this fight. It should not be a ‘by all means’ fight. The fight is right, but the time is not right as Kwara presently does not have what it takes to pay minimum wage.

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