As we commemorate this year’s Workers Day, we must note that in our ever hostile economic environment, the condition of Nigerian workers remains worrisome — a situation that makes saving and survival almost impossible.
Even what we call basic food items are unaffordable, and we are in a situation where the price of a bag of rice is nearly at par with the value of our minimum wage.
The increase in the national minimum wage has been matched or neutralized by astronomical inflation that is accelerating at a breathtaking rate almost daily. Even the locally produced foods are prohibitively expensive.
The Nigerian workers have never had it so bad. The impacts of the lockdown and worsening inflation have taken their heaviest toll on the working class. The situation is so bad that they are now living from hands to mouth.
It is almost inarguable that in the face of such low morale and poor motivation, productivity will inevitably take a nose dive amongst our workforce.
Let me be clear, these challenges of economic survival are not limited to the civil servants alone. They affect the working class at all levels, including artisans and other low-income groups struggling desperately to put food on the table in the face of declining incomes and rising inflation.
I urge that in the face of widespread extreme poverty and declining incomes among the economically vulnerable Nigerians, political office holders must urgently review the costs of governance to bring them in line with our economic realities and the deplorable conditions of average citizens.
The extravagant lifestyles of elected officials, while poverty is decimating the people, is a demonstration of insensitivity. We can’t tell ordinary people to make sacrifices, while elected officials are reluctant to take the lead in making those sacrifices. Elected and appointed officials must, at all levels, cut down on their extravagant expenditures at the expense of the people.
Despite these challenges, however, let us not lose hope in our country. Nigeria is bigger than those who preside over our affairs. We have more common interests that unite us than things that divide us. Let us not allow anyone to use us as fighting tools while they are busy protecting their own interests.