Governor Adams Oshiomhole yesterday said at a forum titled 'stage' in Abuja that for any government to make progress, it must maintain a national minimum wage.
The program, which seeks an interface between voters and policymakers, was themed: “From Activism to Political Power: The Challenges of Democratic Governance in Nigeria.”
According to Oshiomhole, a worker is worth his wages, which means that if an employer is owed something, he is in breach of a contract.
'I'm different here. I still insist that any government that wants to be taken seriously must have a national minimum wage.
“We must maintain a national minimum wage and look for ways to increase it; That is what I still advocate.”
The governor gave an informal account of his stewardship and why he carried out most of his actions, saying he was staying true to his activist years by not owing salaries.
He explained that as a former factory worker, he understood the importance of wages and that was why he increased the salaries of workers in Edo by 38 percent.
“Activism is not synonymous with being progressive. I believe that we should all be idealistic and not reject the possibility of an ideal society.
“One person's idealism is another's reality. Wages paid to people are not a burden.
“In Edo we have increased it to 38 percent and I am proud that I can still pay before the last day of every month.”
He explained that complaints about state salaries were mainly about the 18 months of pension arrears he inherited and the inability of local governments to pay their staff.
“We respect the autonomy of the local government, but we have insisted that if they cannot take care of environmental hygiene, waste management, rural roads and market clearance, at least pay the salaries of the teachers.
“So I am not responsible for non-payment at that level. Failure to pay wages is a criminal violation of contract law.
“You can pay daily, weekly, monthly, but no more than 30 days, you are in violation of the agreement.”
Oshiomhole said he was on the board as an activist to know the ropes, know how to help people and counter concepts like godfatherism in politics.
“I have been militant, I will remain militant and retire as a militant without weapons. I'm not bursting any pipelines, but we need to respond to statements like 'if you can't beat them, join them'.”
The chairman of the occasion, former Governor Donald Duke of Rivers, said he is advocating for the betterment of the society.
“Unfortunately, politicians in our society are only jobbers and budget crunchers. We advocate improvement and not change.
“We had a violent change in 1966, so change is not necessarily the best choice. However, improvements make things happen, develop societies and have a positive impact on people.”
Bishop Mathew Kukah, the organizer of the event, said the essence of the forum was to design programs that encourage debate and free exchange of ideas.
“To serve as a mediating platform between government, citizens and communities.
“Also to improve the quality of leadership training at all levels, both in the public and non-governmental sectors.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that activists from all sectors and relevant stakeholders attended the event. (NAN)