Activist-lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana has said it will be illegal for states to determine what they can pay as minimum wage.
Falana who was guest speaker at a Conference/roundtable organised by the International Press Centre (IPC) to mark this year’s International Day to end Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI), argued that the minimum wage was deliberately placed in the exclusive legislative list to ensure uniformity in application.
Speaking to reporters at the end of the conference, Falana said “I have heard arguments that every state should be allowed to determine what they can pay. But all the governors earn the same salary apart from allowances and security vote.
“All legislators earn the same no matter where they come from. Every Senator earns about N15million per month. So on the ground of equality, that argument cannot be sustained,” he said.
According to him, “labour and industrial matters are in the exclusive legislative list, deliberately so. Otherwise, you’ll have starvation wages and state government that will not pay salaries at all,” adding that the issue of minimum wage is a class matter, as members of the ruling class, regardless of political parties, are one and the same when it comes to addressing the problems of the poor.
Falana who further stressed that the government is quick to talk about inflation, only when it involved addressing the terrible living conditions of the poor, pointed out that the government does not cry about inflation when duty waivers running into hundreds of billions are granted to the rich, when legislators breach the constitution to fix their salaries and allowances by themselves, or when a few rich Nigerians owe billions in unpaid loans.