By Moji Eniola
Lagos – The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intensify the crackdown on stolen funds to fund the new minimum wage proposed by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC).
Mr Timothy Adewale, the Deputy Director of SERAP, said this on Sunday in Lagos.
“The minimum wage of N18, 000 for Nigerian workers stands in sharp contrast with outrageous and sometimes illegal salaries and allowances of high-ranking public officials who continue to enjoy lavish lifestyles with impunity.
“Vulnerable Nigerian workers are left in a precarious situation, unable to ensure a decent standard of living for themselves and their families, with access to water, health, and education seriously undermined,” Adewale said in a statement.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NLC had on Sept. 27 directed workers to go on a nationwide warning strike.
The NLC gave the directive following the failure of the government to review the N65, 000 minimum wage proposed by organised labour.
Adewale urged President Buhari to provide bold leadership to improve conditions for the ‘working poor’ and ordinary Nigerians by publicly supporting a just remuneration to enable them to live a decent life.
The organisation said the Federal Government could make this a reality by pushing to recover assets and other illicit wealth stolen by public officials and institutions since the return of democracy in 1999.
He said: “The government can begin to take tangible steps like proposing legislation to cut security votes of around N241 billion yearly.
“The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) should take legal action to seek refund of N13.5 million monthly ‘running cost’ for each senator and N10 million for each member of the House of Representatives.
“The RMAFC has already declared the allowances illegal and contrary to the law on salaries and allowances of public office holders, namely ‘Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances, etc.) (Amendments) Act, 2008’.”
The organisation also urged President Buhari to stop former governors from receiving double pay and life pensions as serving senators and ministers.
SERAP said the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice should seek refund of over N40 billion public funds received by ex-governors now serving in appointive or elective positions, leveraging the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended).
SERAP urged the government to swiftly end the strike by reaching an agreement with organised labour and push for the harmonisation of the proposed minimum wage across the states of the federation.