We need wage consolidation, not raise. Many cannot predict that those of us who claim to be so passionate about the poor and the working class are against raising minimum wage because it raises those at the high end that must be cut and it is a fake panacea.
It may even sound like the conservatives that are always against minimum wage. There has to be some misgivings different to those of conservatives’ love for slaving wage. In one naira, managers get 80 while workers get 20 percent.
The two most obvious misgivings are: unreasonable inflation induced entirely by illegal and legal looting by politicians with those they bribe generously at home: between 2006 and 2007 alone, workers salaries increased by 15 while those of politicians increased by more than 80 percent. It is piled on top of the weight of the external Structural Adjust Program, forced on us by collusion of our African experts working at World Bank-IMF for their selfish ends in salary and pecks. Until these two evils are demolished, or curbed, they will continue to haunt us, reversing any income gained.
Increase in minimum wage is usually sought to enable the lower working class cope with increase cost of products, services and sometimes unreasonable profit. If other factors in the economy reflected by inflation price index are not way out of control, minimum wage increase would be a way to catch up. Most of the arguments by conservatives that wage gain will kill jobs or drive small business under are usually excuse for selfish profit.
Africa is in a different situation because of endemic corruption especially in some of the countries that have the so called black gold, diamond and other natural resources the foreigners need to sell their finished products. Rather than develop our raw materials at home to provide manufacturing jobs, we mutilate and wage war for control of income. Cocoa and groundnut income has plugged since the 1980s relative to quadrupled price of imported tractors. Yet we got SAP to devalue our currency in order to sell out more?
As income from cocoa and groundnuts prices plunged, we seek unrealistic income from loots, black and underground markets driving prices of food and houses beyond the reach of who play by the rule. Instead of subsidizing food and housing as in developed economies, they play capitalist more than capitalists leaving us to private markets they personally subsidized with our stolen money. Who needs Zimbabwe minimum wage?
The result is artificial inflation driven by outrageous amount of money our privilege classes steal to buy food and houses in the same market where those who are on salary cannot afford to compete. They drive the price of basic needs out of the sphere of those without regular salary or wages like farmers, house-helps, drivers, and employers of less than 50 workers without a set minimum wages. Most of our people in rural areas that do not live in the cities pay city prices.
In areas where low income, medium income and mixed income houses can be built, land speculators tend to the corrupt income earners. They build and sell houses that can stay on the market underutilized, since they have no mortgage or lenders to pay back. They can afford to ask for any sale price or rent, while those in need wait in vain. They do not build for Nigerian or African market, but to lure in foreigners and the privileged few.
Unfortunately, not even Diaspora Nigerians can afford houses in the cities anymore. We heard their views on ridiculous and insane prices. In spite of all the money Africans send home, it has got to a stage where that money is buying less and less in Nigeria. In that case, if a Nigerian has a choice of a property for about $200,000.00 in the suburb of Houston Texas or Atlanta Georgia and found out that to house his family adequately in the same type of house in a Nigerian city would cost him twice as much, of course there is no incentive to move back home. Not even taking security risk, water and electricity into consideration since you go home for the love of your Country.
So who are the Nigerians and foreigners that can afford to buy in cities at home? They are a few hard working Nigerians, others made obscene money as politicians that legally and illegally loot the treasury, lawyers that got a percentage of their loot, some election tribunal judges, and contractors. Not even petty policemen and middleclass qualify. If they price Nigerians at home and Africans in Diaspora out of the market, who is left?
As for the foreigners, there are Africans mostly from neighboring countries. They work hard but whatever they make cannot buy them salvation in Nigeria. So they take their money home where it goes further and they get much more out of their sweat. Indeed, some Nigerians are following them home to buy properties outside of Nigeria since they get better properties in good locations for half or less of what they pay in Nigeria. We want salary that has value and can buy food and houses at reasonable prices at home.
The other foreigners are those from Europe, Asia and America. They will tell you Nigeria is the best place to make money as long as you can hold your nose for a while. They are always in demand as partners, experts and teachers without required qualification in their choice of professions while Nigerian graduates are jobless. They are provided with all types of jungle allowance like 24-hour generator, imported water, driver and cooks. Look, Nigeria is building mega cities where Nigerians cannot afford to live, we then turn around and cry that the Asians, the Europeans and the Americans are coming!
Lagos is one of the most expensive cities in the world but the real inhabitants of Lagos, like other Africans, struggle to provide three meals a day for their families. All these money-miss-road and ordinary Nigerians buy food in the same market. Since they live in cities, all the food in rural areas is diverted to the cities. Don’t border to ask a trader to sell you his yam, on his way to Enugu-Kaduna-Lagos market. Whatever is left would be spoiled by the time they are ready for home. Some would lock up their stores until they get the right price. A trader that tried to sell for less got into hot water in Akure once.
By the time the traders got to the cities, they might have paid bribes to police, area boys on the road, taxes to local governments, transportation, workers and finally at the stalls in the cities. So if you are looking for affordable food without paying the cost of taking it to the cities, you are a big dreamer. If you want food in your cities, subsidize farmers in your cities. Those who cannot feed themselves have no business providing for others. If you want houses, subsidize housing to compete with private companies. The investment will provide jobs for the masses to increase their buying power and spur local economy at reasonable wages, not just paper or monopoly wage without value.
Indeed, cooperative centers around Nigeria can save food traders and buyers money by establishing storage facilities, engaging jobless graduates to manage them to cut down on the cost of distance and dangerous traveling. But those used to the high cost of food in the cities want it and the traders love their money as well. The only ones losing out here is the poor and the working class that cannot afford those prices.
It boils down to this; working and dwindling middle class cannot afford Nigeria, Diaspora Nigerians are being priced out of the market as looters and temporary strangers from overseas take over the whole of Africa. So when they claim they are raising minimum wage just to justify their own pecks and salaries, they are pricing us out of the market at the same time. Remember that no matter how much Zimbabwe dollars we have, we cannot buy anything with it. Not food and not houses.