By Damian Duruiheoma, Owerri
A cross section of civil servants in Imo State have lauded the senate for approving the N30,000 minimum wage, saying it would enhance economic development in the country and the state in particular; this is just as the workers have insisted that they would never negotiate with the state government on the implementation of the policy as soon as the president gives his assent to it.
According to a civil servant, Mr. Isdore Ngerem, who spoke to Orient Weekend, the senate deserves commendation for taking the bold step after several negotiations between labour and the federal government. He stated that the new development is good for the Nigerians workers, adding that it would enhance economic development in the country.
Ngerem, however, stated that the state workers would not yield to any further negotiation with the state government. According to him, civil servants deserve more than the N30,000 minimum wage.
“But, I trust the workers in Imo State to reject any half payment or downward review of the minimum wage because, it becomes a law once the president approves it. So, to me, workers should not negotiate. But we know what to do at the appropriate time”, he said.
Speaking in a telephone chat with Orient Weekend, the Imo State chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Austin Chilakpu, said workers in Imo are happy with the development.
“Imo workers are happy with the development and we commend the Nigerian Senate about that. It is our belief that whatever is happening in any part of the country should be the case in Imo State in terms of workers’ welfare. In Imo, it is non-negotiable. As soon as the president approves it, it is obligatory that the Imo State government must implement it.
“The argument by some state governors that such increase in the minimum wage can only be possible when the revenue allocation formula is reviewed in favour of states and local governments is at their own level because a worker in Imo is the same worker in Lagos. That too doesn’t concern workers. What concerns us now is let the president give assent to it and when it is approved, it must be paid.
“That argument is neither here nor there. If your salary reduces, you have to reduce some of your expenses. The governors have to reduce the running cost of governance in their states. The running cost of governance here is very expensive. Let them reduce the number of their aides, special advisers, personal assistants and the number of commissioners. Look at Imo State; we have 27 ministries which, ordinarily, should not be more than 10. All these things are wastes. If you reduce it from 27 to 10, what you are spending on commissioners and aides will take care of two or three ministries and salaries. Again, let them make proper use of the internally generated revenue. That will help them pay the salaries and carry out other obligations”.
For Mrs. Rose Opara, a worker in the Imo State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), implementation of the policy would reduce the suffering of civil servants across the country and would go a long way in boosting the living standard of Nigerians. She was of the view that when the implementation commences, the country’s economy would have improved to reduce the stress on the new wage.