By Christiana Ekpa
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara has said that, it will be difficult for government to fight corruption if it’s unable to pay workers a living wage.
The was even as the workers booed the Minister of Labour Dr. Chris Ngige and his Finance counterpart Mrs Zainab Ahmed over the new minimum wage of N30,000
Dogara who disclosed this while declaring open a public hearing on the new minimum wage organised by the House ad-hoc committee on new minimum wage, 2019, submitted that the N30, 000 minimum wage being canvassed can barely feed a small family unit.
He said it is only when workers are dignified with wages that can provide them minimum comfort that their productivity level will increase.
“When we do not pay living wage, we cannot tame corruption. When workers take home is not enough to take them home, the temptation for them to cut corners in order to get home will always be there.
“Workers keep and process our national wealth and the only way to insulate them from the temptation to want to help themselves to it, is to ensure they are well remunerated. It is not in contention that it is a mean job to muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain. Leaving workers to their temptations is dangerous unless we can show that they are greater than Oscar Wilde, who in his vintage wicked wit, proclaimed, “I can resist everything except temptation,” he said.
“The next evil is corruption. It is not in doubt that corruption fundamentally undermines democratic institutions and values. Corruption affects the poor most because they depend more on government for support. How then do we fight corruption from the roots rather than dealing with its symptoms as is currently the case? The answer is for us to begin to pay workers living wage not minimum wage.
He said the House of Representatives is giving accelerated consideration to the very crucial Bill to forestall the threat by the labour force to go on strike and because it is long overdue since the current National Minimum Wage, which was fixed in 2011, has become unrealistic due to supervening developments in the nation.
Ngige had told the Committee that the issue of a national minimum wage is a national matter which the government is committed to.