BY EMEKA EJERE
Human Rights lawyer and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has backed the protests embarked upon by the Nigerian workers over the proposed amendments to the minimum wage.
Workers had staged a nationwide protest, kicking against the plan by both the Federal and state governments to freely negotiate the minimum wage with their workers in line with the nation’s federal system.
About a fortnight ago, the House of Representatives introduced a bill which according to the sponsor, Hon. Garba Mohammed would create room for a free negotiation of the minimum wage with federal and state workers in line with the nation’s federal system.
But the workers stressed that it is an attempt by some state governors and members of the National Assembly to short-change them.
The protest, which is being coordinated from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, is said to be holding following attempts by some lawmakers at the National Assembly to remove the Minimum Wage from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List.
Falana, who spoke during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday, said the march was in order.
“As far as I am concerned, the protest by the labour unions today was in order. And I do hope that members of the National Assembly and the various Houses of Assemblies in the country will appreciate the need to prevent the payment of Starvation Wages in our country which is what the National Minimum Wage is all about,” he said.
According to the senior lawyer, no fewer than 18 states of the federation have breached the Minimum Wage act enacted in 2019.
He advised governors to prioritise projects in order to pay the minimum wage to workers under their domain.
While noting that the Nigerian government is directing the people to tighten their belts, Falana maintained that the masses are always subjected to the recession.
“Our people are asked to tighten their belts all the time. Whether there is a recession or not, for the people, they are permanently in recession in our country because of gross mismanagement of the economy of our country
“Section 16 of the Constitution provides that workers in Nigeria shall be paid a living minimum wage. And you will agree with me that ₦30,000 cannot be said to be a living minimum wage in Nigeria today,” he added.