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Bishop Ezeokafor urges President Tinubu to cut National Assembly’s jumbo salaries, pay minimum wage

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BY SUNNY A. DAVID, AWKA

The Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Reverend Paulinus Ezeokafor, has called on President Bola Tinubu to prioritize the welfare of Nigerian workers by increasing the minimum wage and reducing the cost of governance.

The Bishop stated this in an interview with newsmen expressed disappointment with the federal government’s offer of N62,000 as minimum wage, stating that even N100,000 is insufficient to meet the basic needs of workers.

He also urged the President to slash the jumbo salaries of National Assembly members and reduce the overall cost of governance.

Bishop Ezeokafor noted that he was not happy with what he described as the back and forth debate between the FG and the organized labour, saying that the debate had started looking like something that could never be resolved.

“It is actually starting to look like something that will be perennial. Something that can never have a solution. If you look deeply you begin to ask if those handling it are really sincere. If things are handled better, we will be able to meet the demands of the workers. I am so much worried about the happenings. I really want this country to move forward.

“It is unfortunate to hear about the debates. They go through stages. They met and proposed N30, 000; then N48, 000 and from there to N62, 000. To me, N100, 000 is even not enough, looking at how some persons siphon monies meant for every Nigerian. Watching how the National cake is being shared by these people, you’ll shudder.

“It is a question of living in a very big blessed country and at the same time the workers and masses are suffering because some individuals are taking home what belongs to society, leaving the workers and the general public to be gnashing their teeth.

“Let us look at the N62, 000 proposal. From it, someone will take care of his health, transportation, accommodation, feeding and everything about life per month and one month is 30 days on the average. It means N1, 000 per day and you go to the market, you will see how it is going and you go to buy drugs, the same thing, and if somebody is earning this type of money, that is the N62, 000 I’m not talking about the N30, 000 that is in vogue.

“Will that person ever be able to have a roof over his head? Building a simple house, maybe two-bedroom bungalow, it is not possible. And yet they see it as too much to be paid to the people. I do not believe that we are telling ourselves the truth.

“Let us be honest, especially those in government, because if we do not take our time, if we do not care, if we do not do what we are supposed to do, we may end up putting this country into serious chaos.

“There is a saying that a hungry man is an angry man. People are hungry and lack basic things. Nigeria is so blessed with natural resources. Take for example petroleum alone. What comes out from it will serve Nigeria but, unfortunately, some people are putting things into their pockets alone and they consider it as their birthright at the expense of the members of Nigeria Society.

“When I speak I’m not speaking only about the workers’ salary; I’m speaking about developing the country. We need to have a developed country from what God has given us. It is quite painful. I thank God that I have this opportunity to say this because I’m outside the country. Thanks to God for technology which has made it possible for people to speak from all corners of the world. I have been wondering from here what’s happening back home.

“When I hear people say that if government starts paying N62, 000 it cannot sustain it, I think such people may be selfish. If they are looking for where to source the money from, they should slash the National Assembly Members’ Jumbo Salaries, the Governors’ and the Federal Government’s salaries and emoluments itself. Cut down the cost of governance. Use the money to settle workers and poor Nigerians.

“See how the Burkina Faso President is managing the economy of the country. The President of Uruguay, see how he is managing their economy. The lifestyle of the Presidency down to the Governors and lawmakers is the reason we are where we are now. Ordinary citizens will be suffering. The Government can pay the money.

“What extra job are they doing to warrant such jumbo salaries? Labour should tell them that they can pay the money. Let them cut down the cost of running the government. You see somebody debating paying N62, 000 while they are going home with 30 million Naira monthly. If government is sincere they should reduce the money they are sharing to themselves. If not, there could be a revolution,’ the Bishop predicted.

“He expressed worry about the situation of things and insisted that the cost of governance should be drastically reduced, wondering why Nigerian workers should be the least paid in the world.

“I’m not very around but the world is a global market. I will be very happy to see that the government has cut down the excess of governance,” the Bishop concluded.

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