Pilot Law

CURRENT ISSUES: N30,000 Minimum Wage: ‘Govt can’t afford payment for now’


Barrister Abdul Tunde Gegele is a veteran legal practitioner in Ilorin the Kwara State capital. He speaks with our JUDICIARY CORRESPONDENT, KAYODE ADEOTI on the agitation for increase in minimum wage by the Nigeria labour Unions. Excerpts:

Two days ago, the Governors’ Forum and Labour Unions met to chart a way forward on the issue of minimum wage, what is the latest on the development?

We need to understand the fact that labour is being underpaid in this country. It is as a result of the present economic situation in the country. The labour is agitating for a minimum wage of N30,000, many states cannot afford this. But if government at the centre can pay that much, it will be an encouragement to the states government, they may try and pay something that will be a palliative measure to the present economic situation. Two wrongs cannot make a right, labour should give government benefit of doubt and believe it will pay the N25,000 minimum wage it proposed. The protest labour held, I won’t say it is insignificant because it shows that labour is serious about its position but the two parties should try and see how they can make things work. Nigeria for now cannot afford to pay the N30,000 labour unions are fighting for considering the recession in which we’ve found ourselves and the fact that we’re approaching election year where government will have to spend lots of money, labour should not add to government’s burden, they should be able to help government in coming out of the recession.

Some members of an Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) were killed recently at Abuja while clamouring for the release of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky who has been in continued detention against the order of different courts of competent jurisdictions, can you put things in the right perspective over this issue?

Yes, El-ZakZaky has been granted bail by the courts, government should be able to obey the rule of law. It is quite unfortunate that we have someone like Abubakar Malami SAN as the Attorney General and Minister for Justice of the Federation, yet he can’t guide government right when it comes to legal issues. I don’t see any justification in keeping the man in detention up till now, the same goes to Sambo Dansuki who has been granted bail by so many courts but still suffering in detention. Apparently, government that does not respect and obey the rule of law will be doing lots of things which are questionable. Government should respect the law and the pronouncement of court just as it’s trying to provide employment opportunity, fighting corruption. As a matter of fact, our courts are the protector of this democracy, unless we start respecting the rule of law, we will definitely be giving in to anarchy. It is unfortunate because Buhari himself will not be the one insisting that El-zakyzaky should continue to stay in detention, it will be based on some advice that are coming from the Attorney General. Malami should change his style and be civilised enough to do what is lawful and let El-zakyzaky go. About the clash of the movement with the military, the force claimed that the IMN which is very know for violence blocked the bridge on Zuba, on the way to Kaduna, so, they have to resort to self help by clearing the road not only for themselves but for other travellers and in the course of that, their members got killed, though it isn’t unfortunate but I cannot entirely blame the government for that. I think the IMN contributed to the killings of their members

Academic certificates demanded from the President who is seeking re-election in the forthcoming 2019 and some other Nigerians by the INEC have been generating issue…?

I know Buhari went to school, I know some of his classmates who are now judges, but I do not want to say he read beyond secondary school. I know he had some military trainnings which qualifies him even above any graduate to occupy the number one seat in Nigeria… We should not forget what happened to Kemi Adeosun and Shittu Adebayo on the issue of this certificate saga.


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