Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, on Wednesday, August 10, berated state governments owing workers’ salaries, saying a progressive government must maintain a national minimum wage.
He stated this in Abuja during a forum tagged ‘The Podium’, organised by The Kukah Centre in collaboration with the Ford Foundation.
At the programme themed: ‘From Activism to Political Power: The Challenges of Democratic Governance in Nigeria,’ Oshiomhole said a labourer is worthy of his wages.
He said: “This is where I’m different. I still insist any government who wants to be taken seriously must have a national minimum wage.
“We must maintain a national minimum wage, look for ways to increase it; that is what I still advocate for.”
Giving an informal account of his stewardship and why he carried out most of his actions, the governor said he stayed true to his activism years by not owing salaries.
“Activism is not synonymous with being progressive. I believe we should all be idealistic and not dismiss the possibility of an ideal society.
“One man’s idealism is another man’s reality. Wages paid to people is not burden.
“In Edo we increased it to 38 per cent and I’m proud to still pay before the last day of every month,” Oshiomhole said.
He explained that complaints about salaries from the state were mostly about the 18 months pension arrears he inherited and the inability of local governments to pay their staff.
“We respect the autonomy of the Local Government but we insisted that if they cannot do environmental sanitation, waste management, grading rural roads, cleaning up the market at least you must pay the teachers’ salaries.
“So I am not responsible for non-payment at that level. Non-payment of wages is a criminal breach in the law of contract.
“You can pay daily, weekly, monthly but not in excess of 30 days, you are breaching the agreement,” he said.
Oshiomhole said as an activist he was in governance to know the ropes, know how to help people and counter concepts like god-fatherism in politics.
“I have been militant, will remain a militant and retire a militant not with guns. I don’t burst pipelines but we must react to sayings like the ‘if you can’t beat them join them’.”
Activists from all sectors and relevant stakeholders were said to have attended the event.