A founding member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Osita Okechukwu, has advised the organised labour to avoid economic repercussions that would arise from the stagflation likely to be triggered by their demand for a N615,000 minimum wage.

He gave the advice in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, May 5, while reacting to the new minimum wage being demanded by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC).

Instead of the N615,000 minimum wage demanded for by labour, Okechukwu, former Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON) appealed to labour to go for mortgage housing.

Arguing that “the amount is unrealistic”, Okechukwu cited Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, to avoid stagflation which will wipe out social welfare policies being put in place by the federal government.

He however kicked against that the blatant refusal of some states to pay N30,000 and that the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) had frowned on 25 and 35 percent increase recently approved by the federal government.

“Whereas one agrees with the working people that the neoliberal policies like fuel subsidy removal is no doubt taking its toll on our living conditions; however unrealistic minimum wage is not a better deal than mortgage housing for all, one of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as the core take away from fuel subsidy removal quagmire. “Okechukwu retorted.

To avoid the dire economic consequences of the stagflation labour demand will trigger off, Okechukwu counseled that “labour’s collective bargaining should be mortgage housing for all, affordable health and education facilities and channeling of funds to mass transport infrastructure of CNG and Electric Vehicles, not unrealistic minimum wage difficult to implement under stagnated economy already at the lowest ebb of growth.”

The APC chieftain further said that experience and meaningful economic indicators gazette that N615,000 minimum wage will further debilitate the living conditions of workers, escalate gross unemployment, and reduce purchasing power parity of the same vulnerable working class, making nonsense of the Labour proposal.

The NLC president, Comrade Joe Ajaero in a statement on May 2, 2024, said it took the organised labour wide consultations to arrive at the N615,000 minimum wage family monthly upkeep as proposed.

Though Okechukwu agreed that the basket tabulation of monthly family upkeep proposed by the NLC is appetising, he urged labour to rejig their collective bargaining strategy to fire-up and compel President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to retool his mortgage housing program, which will better soften the prevailing economic hardship.

“It is my humble opinion, since necessity is the mother of invention that labour should instead of unrealistic minimum wage, demand as a matter of urgent national importance from President Tinubu; that a greater percentage of fuel subsidy removal accruals be utilised for mortgage housing which will benefit the greatest number of working people across federal, sub-national units, the formal and informal private sector.” Okechukwu submitted.

The Nation