Nigerian Labour Union is beating drum because at last the Federal Government has agreed to implement the minimum wage. How much are we talking about? It is 30,000, just some few 83 dollars, an amount that will not take Nigerian workers out of poverty.
The Nigerian worker is even lucky, the majority of his compatriots that are not government employees earn nothing. To escape poverty, a person needs to earn at least $20 a day, an equivalent of $600 per month or naira equivalent of 216,000 per month.
Every economy needs a large and vibrant middle class to grow. But Nigeria has 74 million people that are currently classified as unemployed by the Federal Bureau for Public Statistics. That figure will make you understand that this nation is tethering on the brink of economic meltdown.
Nigeria has gradually seen the emasculation of its middle class, while the economies of South Africa, Egypt and Kenya are bursting with increasing size of new entrants into the middle class.
Nigeria is segregated between the rich and the poor. Inequality and cruel wealth distribution system is Nigeria’s biggest problem, which is being fueled by mindless stealing that is taking place at all levels of government, and other sectors of the economy.
The problem is not limited to Nigeria alone. It is an endemic issue across the African continent as a US-based research center Phew Institute said there are just 6% middle class in the entire African continent. Here we are talking of people earning $10-20 a day or equivalent of 2000-4000 naira.
The proportion of Africa’s upper-middle-class is slightly 1.5% according to Canback consult, a subsidiary of London Economist magazine. The puzzling questions about the statistics in Nigeria’s case is that, why is the middle class not growing over a period of 10 years when economic growth averaged 5% per annum?
The answer is inequality created by corruption and a cruel wealth distribution system.
If you want to break from the cycle of poverty and migrate into the rich middle class without stealing, you must break from the salary earnings group and seek a money-making idea you can work on. Earning salaries can make you comfortable today, but your focus should be on future sustainability.
A few days without paycheck and life is becoming difficult. What if you have to do without the salary, as you must certainly do in the very near future? This is why l advised people to generate business ideas and work on them while still in employment.
The truth is legitimate money is not easy to earn, but it’s the only way to escape from poverty. All rich people wherever they have two things in common, they don’t work for salaries and they have multiple streams of incomes.
The folly of our government is not making deliberate efforts to put money into people’s pockets. Even if they don’t generate employment, they must identify vulnerable groups and give them cash dole-outs. NYSC members that earn 19,000 are not rich, but they cannot be hungry.
This is an example of how the government can pass cash to people and generate economic activities. It will not hurt the economy because the cash is in Naira, a currency the government can manipulate.
Government benefits in two ways, first by giving it’s people money to spend and second, by reflating the economy as the people will spend the money on buying goods and services that will keep businesses going. The government will tax the companies and get their money back.
Even the beneficiaries pay back some money to the government without knowing they were paying VATs. Meanwhile, the government succeeds in reducing if not eliminating poverty.
If Nigeria succeeds like Brazil in giving every unemployed Nigerian about N30,000 a month, it would have pulled about 74m people out of poverty. A no mean achievement by all standards.
But this is a price we pay when you push uneducated and selfish nitwit charlatans into the decision making bodies of government. The National Assembly is also populated by economic illiterates.
By Aliyu Nuhu