The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, says the agitation for a new minimum wage in Nigeria has not yielded the desired result because some people are benefitting from the present situation.
He, however, expressed hope that the planned implementation of the minimum wage would be done in a way that it would benefit the poor in the country.
Speaking in an interview with journalists in Abuja during the First National Catechetical Summit organised by the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria with the theme ‘Revamping the Catechetical Apostolate in Nigeria,’ the cleric also dismissed insinuations that implementation of a new minimum wage would bring about inflation.
He said, “The whole issue about minimum wage is very problematic in Nigeria. I hope you all know that whenever there is increase in minimum wage, it is the poorest and lowest wage earners who don’t gain.
“If the government, for instance, agree on a minimum wage of N30,000, I’m told that when that happens, many people on grade levels 12, 13, 14 and 15 could get an increase of N200,000. Is it true? If it is true, then, there is something wrong.
“The agitation for minimum wage should be worked out in such a way that it really targets those who need it. Minimum wage should not be used as an excuse to increase the wages of those who are not even within the minimum wage bracket. What we understand by minimum wage is that nobody should be given a wage that is below the living wage.”
Speaking on the 2019 elections, he alleged that beneficiaries of vote-buying were largely officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, police officers and security agencies, who he alleged collect millions of naira from politicians.
He added, “I don’t think the worst thing about elections in Nigeria is vote-buying. I think it is having the political will to conduct a free and fair election. Anybody going into politics to make money, recoup their losses and improve their financial status and business, should please get out, they don’t belong.
“The only people we want in politics are those who want to serve the nation and rule us in a different way from what we have seen so far. We want the people who will want to decide that the kind of salaries and allowances being received by legislators in the National Assembly is not sustainable.”