It was with huge shock that we read the statement credited to the
Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who said that the Federal
Government was working to reduce the high cost of governance by
cutting down on the salaries of Nigerian workers. The Minister was
reported to have said this in Abuja at a policy dialogue on corruption
and cost of governance in Nigeria organised by the Independent
Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission. The
Minister of Finance was also reported to have directed the National
Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) to immediately
review the salaries of civil servants as well as the number of federal
agencies in the country.

It is most unthinkable that government would be contemplating to
unilaterally slash the salaries of Nigerian workers at this time. The
question to ask is “which salary is government planning to slash?” It
certainly cannot be the meagre national minimum wage of N30000
which right now cannot even buy a bag of rice! The proposed slash
in salaries is certainly not targeted at the minimum wage and
consequential adjustment in salaries that some callous State
Governors are still dragging their feet to pay!

It is public knowledge that the multiple devaluation of the Naira in a
very short time and the prevailing high inflation rate in Nigeria has
knocked out the salaries earned by Nigerian workers across board.
Nigerian workers are only surviving by hair’s breadth. Indeed,
Nigerian workers are miracles strutting on two legs.It is, therefore,
extremely horrendous for a Minister of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria to pronounce salary slash for Nigerian workers at this time. This call for salary slash by Mrs. Zainab Ahmed is tantamount to a
“mass suicide” wish for Nigerian workers. It is most uncharitable,
most insensitive, most dehumanizing and most barbaric. Nigerian
workers demand an immediate retraction and apology by the
Minister of Finance.

We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Minister of
Finance to order now before she sets Nigeria on fire with her careless
statements. If there is any salary that needs serious slashing it is the
humungous remuneration and allowances pocketed by political
office holders in Nigeria who do very little but collect so much!
Workers generate surplus value and revenue for government. We do
not constitute any unnecessary cost or burden to governance! It is
also important to make the point that salaries are products of
contracts governed by laws. They cannot be unilaterally adjusted.
While many countries of the world are increasing the salaries of their
workforce, extending social security coverage for their citizens and
providing all forms of palliatives to help their people through the
terrible socio-economic dislocations occasioned by the COVID-19
pandemic, it would be completely absurd for the Nigerian
government to be thinking of salary slash. This move is not only at
great odds with global best responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, it
is also in violation of relevant ILO Conventions and Declarations on
Wages and Decent Work.

We urge Government as a social partner to quickly respond to the
demands by Labour for an upward review of salaries of all Nigerian
workers. Nigerian workers have showed sufficient understanding
with government through the tough patches of the pandemic. Now,
Nigerian workers demand reciprocity of our understanding. Nigerian
workers demand an increase in their remunerations and allowances.
Enough is enough!

Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni
President, Nigeria Labour Congress
5th May 2021