WAKE UP: What Nigerians need is not minimum wage increase but Naira that is valuable

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…plus removal of some nonsensicals around human economy

By BASHIR ADEFAKA

My uncle back home in Isolo, Akure South Local Government, Ondo State, Alhaji Yakubu Safe Ogbera, a retired Director of Ondo State Civil Service, posted something that geared me up about minimum wage and he did that via his Facebook social media network on Monday June 3, 2024. That inspired me to write about the minimum wage controversy that has worried me over the times and I made my own corroborating post, saying N1 million will still not be enough.

I have decided to lift my response from mere a Facebook thing to a more serious journalism driven page that my WAKE UP opinion article column seeks to represent hence the details as follows:

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What we need is a responsible governing system that will check the attitude of three sets of traders: Fuel marketers, food and other commodity markets’ men and women and transporters who see minimum wage announcement as a crime to trigger automatic increase in prices of items and cost of transportation.

In addition, any government that is serious should know that anyone who has hand in creating hardship for people in these three major aspects of human living system does not deserve to live. As a fuel driven economy, not even the removal of fuel subsidy should push any fuel marketer to exploiting members of the public the way it is done that transporters at various levels, too, climb upon to further extort passengers, the commuters, who patronise them.

Same way, food and other related commodity marketers, who exploit customers, should not be allowed to thrive in the act because he that deprives people of food or make feeding hard for anyone is worse than the devil. As a government, you do not require setting up a commission or committee or panel on price control to do this. What is the essence of government, if people are now left to the mercy of these evil-minded marketers extorting and creating hardship for fellow citizens from the dark side taking advantage of non-consulted policies by which the government has plunged the people into the untold hardship and hunger that are now being unprecedentedly witnessed in our country? It must be addressed.

Another major area that must be completely disconnected from our public life, which those who are declaring nationwide strike are not talking about, is the presence of non-state actors on our roads and bus stops who have now moved from charging unlawful taxes to commuter buses operators to demanding driving license, okada plate number renewal papers and annual vehicle’s change of ownership renewal documents.

Sadly, this attitude of the non-state actors (agberos, thugs, hoodlums and more) is common across Lagos State and parts of Ogun with Sango-Idiroko route more infested with this disgusting thing. More sadly is that, our people, who don’t want to see police ask for vehicle particulars, now see how agberos ask for vehicle particulars but they are not complaining.

Do you know the taxes content? Owo Chairman, Owo Alejo (entertainment tax) for Chairman, Owo Olopa (police tax), Owo Obstruction, Owo Osan (afternoon tax), Owo Irole (evening tax), Owo Security. Infested areas mentioned here are gateways into Nigeria. How then do politicians in charge of our government, who unleashed these elements on our roads and economy, intend to justifiably defend this uncivilised attitude and appearance before investors they seek to bring in their hard-earned money and invest in our country?

Which foreign investor would bring his money to invest in a country where hoodlums (or agberos) are more powerful than the police and take taxes based on the direction dictated by their hearts not by law of the land? How better to describe this, if not as a parallel government? It does not portray us as a country and a people serious about developing when, instead for those we voted for to govern our states, all we see in turn are hoodlums called the non-state actors that have been unleashed on us as our governing elements. Only in a failed state that happens. If we want our Naira to be strong and valuable, these people are the nonsensicals around our human economy that must be removed.

Imagine! Unexplainable taxes?! Owo Chairman, Owo Alejo (entertainment tax) for Chairman, Owo Olopa (police tax), Owo Obstruction, Owo Osan (afternoon tax), Owo Irole (evening tax), Owo Security.

This is still not inclusive of money for whole seat of four plus one making five passengers they lift from an 18-passenger bus at point of loading and the ‘Owo Load’ (loading tax) that they pay at every bus stop where they drop passenger. It is meaningless whether the bus picks new passenger or not at that bus stop, the transporter must pay ‘Owo Load’.

Another is this idea of charging heavy taxes on merchants who bring food items and animals in trailers from Northern Nigeria to ease food security needs of people of the South who depend on Lagos warehouses to buy. A woman once complained on a Yoruba FM radio station in Lagos, saying she was stopped by hoodlums at Mile 12 Market to offload her tomatoes unless she paid N300,000 on one trailer alone. She then asked, “Where does that N300,000 go? On the tomatoes of course,” she answered by herself on the station.

We need security, protection and safety against all of these agents of insecurity that ravage our living system but which politicians in charge of our government across the states are believing is normal thing to allow. If you want to compensate thugs who worked for you during elections, it is not for you to entrust areas of basic life that are essential for living into their hands.

Transportation should not be managed by mediocre, thugs or hoodlums. It is a sector of economy that is treated with respect in any country of the world. Nigeria should not be an exception. Same thing the encroachment those thugs have now made into the market centres where some Iyalojas even go to the extent of fighting Hausa traders for selling tomatoes and pepper cheap to consumers. And where the Hausa trader does not stop, they use their thugs to push him out of the market. That is constitutional breach. What then is the essence of government where all of these happen to our law abiding citizens doing their lawful businesses and not even the police can act in their support?

All our political leaders breach the provisions of the Constitution everyday so long they continue to allow these unlawful acts of misbehaviour of non-state actors thrive in our midst because, the very first responsibility of government is to provide security. They should tell us is activities of these hoodlums are anything to be called security.

These are some of the nonsensicals around human economy that government should remove not minimum wage increase. The attitude and morale of our people towards moral values and human dignity should be boosted, then the government will make a national declaration on what it wants wages measures and prices to be. Added to that should be a national value system and foreign policy that make Nigeria have better standing in the comity of nations.

Whatever will make Nigerian lives better our government must do, not for anyone in power to make himself a stooge for any foreign nation like we have witnessed in the near war on Republic of Niger, unconsulted and unplanned fuel subsidy removal, floating of the Naira against foreign currencies exchange and electricity tariff increases amidst self provision of electricity that Nigerians do to themselves and situation where people are compelled to pay for electricity not enjoyed amidst epileptic power supply.

When the oil marketers Nigeria pressed President Muhammadu Buhari to increase fuel price to the point that they started building up queues at feeling stations, at the end he agreed to between N0.00 – N145.00 from N87.00 per litre but insisted it must not be sold above N145.00. Same he did to N185 which he permanently refused to further raise the price until he left office on May 29, 2023. He also did agricture to make food available locally but then Nigerians, who claimed they saw nothing Buhari did in infrastructure, food, security and have wished the Daura, Katsina State-born former President never left.

I rest my case.


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