Nigeria volume 1 - Page 7

In October of 2013, Governor Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole of Edo State was reportedly a participant in a solidarity march organized by the Nigeria Labour Congress in Abuja to protest the low minimum wage experienced inside the community. He later discussed his reason for joining in: to raise the alarm over the damage the Nigerian federal government is causing for the economy of states with poor Federal Allocation.

"We have a lot to celebrate," said Governor Oshiomhole. "I think it is important to celebrate. Those who don’t want to celebrate can at least mark the day because it is important to our nation. For the fact that we have the right to govern ourselves, not to be treated as inferior humans who are incapable of presiding over our own affairs, we need to celebrate. I know that there are a lot of deficit due to the situation we found ourselves in. Not celebrate the fact that there is no hunger in the land because there is hunger. Not celebrate the fact that all our young people are well-employed, no, many people deserve jobs that are not there. Not celebrate the fact that we have obtained all our development potentials, no, there is still a huge gap between the rich and the poor. Busay, if tere is life there is hope." (Simon Ebegbulem, 2013)

"The true meaning of democracy is to improve the lives of the citizens. The primary purpose of all of us, 36 governors and one President is the quality of life among fellow Nigerians. If what we do does not translate to welfare, then our legitimacy can be questioned.

"So if Abuja fixes the pay of the governor, surely Abuja will fix the councellor's wages, along with the pay of the commissioner, Chief Judge, and the House of Assembly board, but why won't Abuja give more to the lowest classes?

With the pay of the commissioner, Chief Judge, and the House of Assembly board, but why won't Abuja give more to lowest classes? My point is, this is hypocrisy; you cannot simply apply the principle of federalism. It is typically associated with the rulers, and we have to go by the federal standards; but when you have to deal with the hard working citizens, the forgotten majority, you now think, ‘let everybody pay according to its ability.' But that should start with government; that should start with the Chief Judge."

"I don’t know if the Federal Government is broke, but I know there is a serious financial crisis and it is unprecedented in the history of this country."

Governor Oshiomhole argues that minimum wage should be raised, because the low pay in Abuja has been a big contributor to its recent financial crisis. A large majority of the money is going to the wealthy upperclassmen, meanwhile the lower class is receiving basically nothing for all of their hard work. The federal principle has recently been more biased than ever, as they judge the wealth classes by their social placement, and not by their abilities. Unemployement has sprung up all over, and many citizens have found themselves pushed straight into poverty. Nigeria is currently facing a financial recession worthy of the Great Depression that has destroyed much of its sustenance of human capital resources, but however, crude oil production has been performing very well inside Abuja's economy.

“Well, it is no more a matter for debate and this year is almost finished, but there is no doubt oil has been a winner, at about one hundred and five to one hundred and ten dollars per barrel throughout 2013,” said Oshiomhole. “This means that if we have of 79 dollars, we ought to have a surplus of about 30 per cent, which should be in the crude oil account. But rather than having this surplus, we are witnessing a situation where our states are unable to pay their salaries. In Edo State, like the rest of our 35 states, part of our July allocations has not been paid. And this country's September allocations have not yet been paid. And it is the first time since 1999 that this thing has happened.”

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BY COLE BAILEY

Interview with GOVERNOR OSHIOMHOLE of EDO STATE