Monday, June 27, 2011

Govts have enough money to pay Minimum wage

Minimum Wage - The immediate Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Alhaji Hamman Tukur, has opposed the demand by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum for the removal of the petroleum subsidy.
Tukur, at the 6th Engineer Mahmud Urwatu Armiya’u Foundation Annual Lecture and Presentation of Awards by the Kaduna branch of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, in Kaduna on Saturday, argued that the governors received more than enough funds from the Federation Account to meet all their obligations, including paying the N18,0000 new minimum wage.

According to him, since the removal of subsidy would lead to an increase in pump prices of petroleum products, what the NGF demand amounted to was simply passing additional burden to ordinary Nigerians.

The NGF had last week argued that the over N693bn the Federal Government claims it spends annually on petroleum subsidy could be shared to enable states to have more money to be able to pay the new wage.

But Tukur, who was the guest speaker at the annual lecture said, “The governors should not be asking for the removal of petroleum subsidy because I know they have enough even from their states’ share from the Federation Account to pay their workers and meet other obligations.

“The governors will come to Abuja and say that they don’t have money. The money they collect from the Federation Account alone is far more than enough to pay their workers.

“It’s unfortunate that they want to pass the burden to the ordinary Nigerians. There is enough resources in the country for all. The problem is that the Federal and state laws clash.

“The Federal law cannot impose on the state what it should do with money from the Federation Account. Also, the state cannot impose on the local government what to do with its money. The laws are there. The governors can pay the minimum wage.”

While speaking on “Electricity Power Reform: Key to Industrial and Economic Development of Nigeria,” he also criticised the Federal Government for spending over N2tn on the power sector without tangible results,

The former RMAFC chief claimed that between 2000 and 2007, the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo spent over N1.5tn on the power sector.

He added that the problem with the sector had lingered because, “it had been politicised.” Tukur warned that unless the NSE was fully involved in the efforts to get the power sector working , “we as a country will remain in our present dilemma.”

Warning that growth would continue to elude the nation’s industrial and economic sectors because of epileptic power supply, he challenged Nigerian engineers to “wake up and give Nigerians the reliable power that they need and deserve.”

He said, “All previous administrations in Nigeria have appreciated the important role electricity plays in the industrialisation and economic development of the country.

“The Obasanjo administration had expended nearly N1.5tn in his aspiration to increase the level of power generation to 10,000 Megawatts before leaving office in 2007. But he left office with power generation at about 4,000MW. The Yar’Adua administration spent up to N750bn under the National Integrated Power Project which it inherited from Obasanjo.

“As it turns out, power generation capacity over the decades has never come to set targets despite injection of over N2tn into the sector. All concerned Nigerians have been asking, why? With no answer up to present day.

“The NSE is known to be a body set up by law to be responsible to coordinating the professional activities of all engineers in Nigeria. It is also a body that should not only defend the engineering profession in much the same way the Nigerian Bar Association defends the legal profession in both the private and public sector.

“The engineers that belong to this society are indeed Nigerians trained with public funds in the hope that they will in turn defend the interests of their profession as it involves their country and its people all the time. The question then arises, what has the Kaduna branch of the NSE done to solve the lingering problem of reliable electricity in Kaduna in particular and the country as a whole for several years?

“The Nigerian engineers and Kaduna branch is not exception, seem to have allowed the political class to dominate and dictate how the power sector should be operated generally, ignoring the technical, competence and the professional input of the trained engineers.

“The NSE, as a whole is not known to have so far intervened to call these politicians to order as being done by the NBA and elsewhere in the world and use their training to get reliable and dependable electricity for people in Kaduna nor for the whole country.

“Professionally, trained Nigerians on whom enormous public funds have been expended, have the tendency in current practices in our country to surrender the governance of our country and its economic fortunes to politicians. The politicians, particularly the legislators in our country, once sworn-in today, by the next day they automatically become experts and specialists and hence take control of everything and everybody practicing dictatorship in democracy.

“Under this circumstances, Nigerian professionals, particularly those regulating technical practices such as the NSE must really wake up to properly insist on guiding politicians on the correct technical rules in order to get the country out of its present dilemma particularly the power sector.”

Nigeria Newspapers

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