By Ray Morphy
I am going to make this essay on the need for higher workers’ salaries
as simple and as straight forward as possible because economics is actually a commonsense subject.
Economics is not one of those subjects that you must necessarily go to school or be literate to grasp. If it were so difficult, how come our grannies and uncles in the villages are so successful at both economic production and marketing?
As a matter of fact, more than 80 per cent of the production in this great lovely country is in the hands of barely literate people who are working and producing in every single village and cranny across this vast land.
It is not from my mouth that you will hear that cities and city dwellers are merely parasitic consumers who despite their education tend to produce nothing of worth. Indeed, they the elite are a burden on the backs of the very productive and resilient village man and woman.
It is the elite who make laws that cripple the already suffering rural based producers. It is the elite that consume in their cities, the power that the villager desperately needs to power his agro processing and production. It is the elite that build smooth roads in cities, yet they neglect the much-needed rural roads that would enhance the agricultural capacity of the hinterland. Good rural roads will boost the nation’s economy by enabling farmers evacuate their wares thus reducing produce wastages!
Whenever I pass through rural corners of this country, I realise that the elite need a crash course in economics, just as they need one in civics and another in social structures and morality!
If the elite were knowledgeable of elementary public economics, how could they have constructed a wage system that allows the parasitic political elements to earn the most while the real workers and burden bearers earn the least?
Doctors and other trained personnel are fleeing the country on account of poor wages and inhumane working conditions. Our young ones are risking the deserts in search of economic succour and refuge on account of underemployment and nihilistic wages. Yet they who rule have no clue that the single force propelling the shame of our country is one and only one. It is the low abysmal wages!
How can a country pay workers so low a wage that even a single man or woman cannot survive on that, talk less of a family? How can our nation pay a wage so low that a man’s monthly wage does not cover his transportation to, and from work?
How can we not know that the average Nigerian earns so little that most workers are forced to live in homes without toilets and without any living facilities whatsoever. Many of the decent workers you see on the streets live in hovels and ‘lungus,’ not because they choose to, but because their very poor wages cannot allow them to live better.
Low wages are the bane of good education, low wages are the bane of good health, low wages are the cause of both low human productivity
and the cause of abysmally low industrial and economic production!
The health workers are leaving the land because their wages are too low to sustain even their own training needs. Those doctors in private practice cannot fund the kind of clinics they would love to have because the patients are too poor to pay for sophisticated modern treatments. For instance, laser surgeries start from one million naira for even minor operations, how many wage earners can afford that? If they cannot afford the treatments, how can medical establishments be viable?
Local production is deeply affected by this low wages syndrome too!
What kind of goods can be produced for the consumption of people who earn $50 a month as wage? Bear in mind that most industrial machineries and equipment are imported so no producer can sustain a business where the buyer is too impoverished to purchase anything of worth. This is the very reason why high wages are so important to those countries whose leaders understand public finance.
No economy can thrive where about 80 per cent of the citizenry, are officially classified as poor!
It makes economic sense to raise wages in such a way that the purchasing power of society can in turn sustain production, sustain good education and sustain sound health care. Even elementary study of public finance will show that low wages lead ultimately to economic depression and its attendant economic consequences and maladies
It is therefore sound economics to speedily raise workers’ wages across the spectrum of the economy. This nation can afford it and this nation needs it. The arguments that raising worker wages will cause inflation is hollow. If the billions that the elite steal every year through their own stupendously high wages did not bring about inflation, why would paying higher wages to the citizenry cause worrisome inflation?
As everyone knows, the fall in the value of the naira had already so weakened the purchasing power of the average citizen that any increase today would be merely an effort to return the purchasing power of the worker, a purchasing power that he had since lost to the fall in naira value.
The ruling elite are keeping the citizenry in poverty by this uneconomic low wages regime which indeed makes no economic or social sense.
The way to go is a graded increase in wages through such mechanism as school fees allowances, healthcare allowances etc. Without raising the wages, the largely informal economy of this nation cannot be successfully reflated.
Last But Not Least
Peace making is a joint effort. Peace is like clapping. You cannot clap with one hand! Grazing cows on a farmer’s crops is not peace building, cow rustling is not peace building either. To have peace all parties must contribute to the building of peace through mutual respect of each other’s rights!