Why dollarising , internationalizing Nigerian minimum wage is unreasonable, by Abass Adetunji

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The point I am making is while comparing wages across the world we should also seek knowledge about the living costs, it may open our eyes to the fact that the naira even when it is battered is not useless afterall, and the cost of living is far lower in Nigeria than in other climes.

 

People have to be careful and realistic while dollarising or internationalising minimum wages , nay wages generally , as well as when making comparison about purchasing powers., it is not as simple as it seems even when it is not rocket science. The ability to follow an explanation dispassionately and objectively does it.

I remember just yesterday a brother dropped some lines inside my private box, he said: in Cote Divoire the minimum wage is 50000 naira, so , what is the fuss about the thirty thousand naira that the government is finding hard to pay? He resides there so he should know better.

Eh , so this West African nation also pays a higher mininum wage than Nigeria? But why are we even the dreg in minimum wage? Must we carry last in everything? I became curious and really wished to know more and learn more.

I started my barrage of questions: what does a three- bedroom flat cost in Abidjan? What does it cost in the suburbs? He said a 3- bedroom flat in Abidjan is not less than a million naira per annum on the average, he further added that the modest one-room apartment he has had since he arrived Abidjan is three hundred thousand per annum. As to the other costs he has this to say: ” Costing of rentage, education and medical is very high here”.

He went further : “In multiple of btw 4 to 7 if we want to do the assessment in comparison to Nigeria cost of living” . Fortunately , he is an experienced accountant who knows his onions.

In Tunisia , the monthly minimum wage for a forty- hour week is around two hundred dollars but the cost of living is also so high that it pales into insignificance when compared to what 30000 naira will earn you in Nigeria in living standards.

In New York, a modest hotel goes for around eighty dollars minimum per night while some are up for as much as two hundred dollars. When you place the standards side by side , it is sure that the one that goes for two hundred dollars will probably not pass for more than fifteen thousand in Nigeria while the other one should be in the region of five thousand naira.

Now, let us talk about minimum wage? The federally- regulated minimum wage in the US is 7.25 dollars per hour which amounts to around 300 dollars per week gross! But when you give some allowances such as taxes and others you have about one thousand dollars a month.

Now, the trick is that such a person will.live in penury, you cannot survive on it as a one’- bedroom apartment goes for at least 1200 dollars a month anywhere in NYC. What now happens?

The city has its own wage structure which is higher than the federal and it enables people to keep apace and operate somehow above the poverty line.

It is not only in the area of accomodation, what about food? What about transportation and others? A friend turned down an offer of about four thousand dollars a month and opted to stay put in Unilag where he teaches! Why? The cheapest accomodation he got was 1800 dollars!

The truth is that several things that are taken for granted in Nigeria cost money in the other climes. A cup of coffee goes for at least four hundred naira( 1.25 dollars) in NYC, a modest meal anywhere costs at least 8 dollars( 3000 naira) and we can go on and on.

The point I am making is while comparing wages across the world we should also seek knowledge about the living costs, it may open our eyes to the fact that the naira even when it is battered is not useless afterall, and the cost of living is far lower in Nigeria than in other climes.

However, all Nigerians need to devise a practical way of ensuring that the public office holders live a realistic exisitence. They should not smile to their banks while the rest of the people survive on pittance and mess of porridge!

It congratulate all Nigerians over the sixty- qseven percent increase in minimum wage, I know we can do better, our states should not erode the gains accruable to the middle level officers, we should keep cooperating with this good administration. We shall overcome.

*Abass Adetunji is a journalist and patriotic Nigerian in the Diaspora.

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