Recession shouldn’t stop govs paying minimum wage —Oshiomhole

From left, founder, The Kukah Centre, Bishop Matthew Kukah; Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo and a former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, at the programme held in Abuja, on Wednesday. PHOTO: NAN

· Payment of salary crucial for economic sustenance —Ex-Gov Aliyu

EDO State governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, on Wednesday, said state governors who have failed to pay the national minimum wage are committing criminal offence.

This was as former governor of Niger State, Babangide Aliyu, said payment of salary was crucial to sustain the economy.

This was disclosed at a programme, “The Podium,” organised by the Kukah Centre for Faith, Leadership and Public Policy, with the theme: “From activism to political power: The challenges of democratic governance in Nigeria.”

Oshiomhole said it was wrong for governors who enjoyed a fixed national emolument same way it was fixed for National Assembly lawmakers, to now turn around that the national minimum wage should not be applicable to the states of the federation.

According to him, “non-payment of wages is a criminal breach of the law of contract, whether in recession or in prosperity.

“What I questioned and which I don’t accept is that if we have a national compensation, how can the governors turn around and question the wisdom of a national wage structures for workers?

“We have a centralised system of compensation for executives, governors, commissioners and local government chairmen. Their pay is centrally determined and the economy can afford that.

“What Lagos State governor is receiving is what Edo State governor is receiving. It is that selective application of fiscal federalism that I found extremely offensive and unacceptable. “Even today, I remain firm that we must maintain a national minimum wage and we must find ways to implement and adjust it to reflect the cost of living.

“It is the duty of government and employers to find the revenue to pay those they hired, whether in private or government employed.

At the programme, moderated by founder of the centre and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Reverend Father Mathew Hassan Kukah, Oshiomhole condemned also condemned the previous Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led government.

He said crass corruption and looting, which characterised the PDP 16 years in power, were responsible for Nigeria’s current economic crisis.

“There is always a time between decisions and consequences. What politicians did in the past, that is the consequences we are facing now,” he said.

Former governor of Cross River State, who was the chairman on the occasion, had earlier criticised the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government and its change mantra, lamenting that the change campaign was fake propaganda.

Duke also questioned the sincerity of Oshiomhole as a labour leader during his days as president of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC).

Former governor of Niger State, Aliyu, warned that the economic policies of the Federal Government had increased the suffering of Nigerians.

“During my time, we paid salaries. In the North, apart from Kano State, the rest 18 states are civil service states. Payment of salary is very crucial in sustaining the economy.

“Go to the market, go to the streets, you will hear cry. I don’t understand this silence when some people are messing up,” Aliyu said.

Director of the Kukah Centre, Dr Arthur-Martins Aginam, said the forum among others was to elevate the quality of political discourse in the country by generating ideas through robust and informed engagement between public officials and citizens and in the processes deepen the nation’s democracy.