Article from www.nigeriasolidarity.org --- Campaign for Democratic and Workers' Rights in Nigeria
We Say Capital No to Pay Rise for Political Office Holders
17 August 2006
The Campaign for Democratic Workers Right (CDWR) totally condemns the recent Federal Government’s proposal on pay rise for political office holders.
The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), through its Chairman, Alhaji Hamman Tukur was reported in the Guardian of Tuesday, August 15, 2006 to have said that President Olusegun Obasanjo’s salary is the lowest in the world, hence, the need for the increase in political office holders’ allowances and benefits like accommodation, transportation, utility, domestic staff, entertainment, constituency allowance, furniture, vehicle maintenance, fuelling, severance gratuity etc. The Chairman further defended the proposed pay increment to political office holders, claiming that what they were being paid before, even after the 2000 monetization policies, is peanuts. In his view this has accounted for corruption in public office.
Yes, we will support every measure that can help to stem the tide of the massive corruption, which pervades every facet of governance in the country today. However, we wish to emphasise that corruption will remain an indelible, central aspect of social life as long as government continues to give prime of place to privatisation – the mother of corruption. When stripped of all its deceptive features, privatisation is no more than the act (legal and illegal) of taking what belongs to all of the people by a few, insatiably greedy individuals and corporations. Thus, to facilitate and guarantee privatization, Obasanjo’s government core “reform” programme, corruption is bound to be the norm, not the exception.
We, therefore, consider the reasons adduced to justify pay rise for top government officials as not only being very funny but equally very embarrassing to the generality of the Nigerian working class. It is indeed an open truth that today, an average Nigerian worker earns N5,500 and N7,500 for States and Federal workers respectively, and this cannot be in any way compared to the millions of naira political office holders earn monthly in the guise of allowances. Millions of people live in abject poverty with the cost of living soaring so high with unemployment pervading the land. Indeed people are only existing and not living in this country.
We challenge the claim that Obasanjo is the least paid president in the world. But even if this were so, we need to quickly point out that Nigerian workers are some of the least paid in the world. The poverty wages of N5, 500 and N7, 500 are respectively less than the International Labour Organization (ILO) stipulated 7 (seven) dollars per working hour. At the ratio of N130.00 per dollar, it means a worker ought to be earning N910 per hour, N7, 200 per day, N36, 400 per week and N145, 600 per month.
In a country that makes stupendous amount of money from crude oil daily, there is no justification for the continuous abject poverty the masses are condemned to, while political office holders are busy looting the country’s resources with impunity.
We demand a halt to the proposed increment in salaries and emoluments of political officer holders, for it is uncalled for, anti-working class, pro-rich, and selfish in all ramifications.
We call on the all the trade union federations: the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Congress of Free Trade Union (CFTU) to put up a coordinated action to struggle and demand not only the 25 percent pay increase promised by the Federal Government since 2000 when it last increased the salary of workers, but also a pay rise for all sections of workers to be commensurate with the inflation rate in the economy, without a single retrenchment.
We call for a working class and pro-masses’ political platform, where all progressives and radical political parties, trade unions, socialist movements, civil societies, human right groups and all change seeking elements will come together to wrest power from the present vampires in power, whose main constant agenda is to carry out pro-rich policies to the detriment of the poor masses of the country.