In this interview with our JUDICIARY CORRESPONDENT, KAYODE ADEOTI, the member of the Young Lawyers’ Forum (YLF) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ilorin branch, Kwara State, Kabiru Dayo Adebayo speaks on the issue of rule of law, and the N30,000 minimum wage for workers among other sundry issues. Excerpts:
On the issue of minimum wage, the labour union has suspended the strike action, but agitation for increment in workers’ salaries continues. How best do you think this issue can be addressed?
The issue is not about law, it has been signed into law long before now that the wages of workers must be reviewed every 5 years. What the NLC is agitating for a right not even privilege because it is a matter of law. I strongly believe that they’re not asking for too much. In fact, if the N30,000 is later agreed for the Nigeria workers, it will still be the lowest minimum wage around the world. The best way government can go about this issue is to reduce waste. The Commissioners, Ministers only ratify or make corrections, the buck of the job are done by the civil servants in our ministries. Government should just reduce waste. In some states, aides to the governors are not less than 300, they have no function, there are many personal assistants without portfolio, no offices and they have official cars. There are some states in Nigeria whose governors have more than 500 aides. It is only in Nigeria one will see Commissioner for Finance, Special Adviser on Finance, Senior Special Assistant still on Finance and even Personal Assistants, what is their functions when the ministry has Permanent Secretary and various Directors. We should just reduce these offices and concentrate on what will have meaningful impact on our lives. The looted money of the former President of the country, General Sanni Abacha can pay the N30,000 minimum wage. What is the population of the civil servants in Nigeria? They are not up to 30 per cent of the total population of the citizens because majority of the workers are not working under governments but private organisations. There is no state that cannot pay N30,000 as minimum wage. The NLC need to be careful and objective, they should reduce their relationship with the politicians. Let there be genuine course.
Looking at the continued detention of Sambo Dasuki and leader of an Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) El-ZakkyZakky despite court orders, will you say this government has failed to adhere to the rule of law?
We need to understand that this country is a secular state, it is not absolutely for the Christians, Muslims or pagans. Every citizen of this country has right to practice any religion so far it doesn’t constitute threat to the society. The Islamic movement members, the Shiite are citizens of this country, their leader, Ibrahim El-zakyzaky was arrested, though there was an allegation that his followers waylaid the Chief of Army Staff, the courts have ruled that he and Sambo Dansuki should be released, but this present government disobeyed court orders, they are still in detention. Disobedience to the rule of law is one of the prevailing thing in the President Buhari’s administration. Any administration that is not ready to sustain the rule of law, not practising democracy. This current government is lacking in the principle of the rule of law, which is very bad. El-zakyzaky and Sambo can be released but placed on watch list. An individual like the duo cannot cause any threat to the country. What is the population of El-zakyzaky members to that of the other Nigerians? Shiite are still a minority.
Owing to the prevailing killings in some parts of the country, many people have described it as corruption fighting back…?
Corruption will surely fight back if we’re not genuine and objective about the way we fight it. I’ve once said that selective justice is better than none, I still maintain that. If some people arrested are prosecuted for corruption, we should always ensure that the trial is followed to the end. I’m quite aware that some people had forfeited their money to the coffer of government, that is not enough. Collecting money alone from someone like Audu Yakubu, former MD of the NNPC who kept foreign currency in one farm in Kaduna and Madueke Diezani is not enough, we want to see such persons behind bar, in prison. Whatever money government has collected, we must know the purpose it will be used for.