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Distortions In The Minimum Wage Debate

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Issues For APC 2023 Presidential Campaign

By Salihu Moh. Lukman

The campaign for the retention of the minimum wage in the exclusive legislative list under the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended, is being handled by the leadership of organised labour, especially Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) based on deliberate distortions of facts. One of the claims is that moving the minimum wage from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list in the 1999 Nigerian constitution will contravene the provision of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention, to which Nigeria is a signatory.

While it is true that the ILO Convention No. 30 of 1928 Minimum Wage-Fixing Machinery Recommendation provides the guiding principles for the determination of minimum wages in all countries, no where was it stipulated that the process should be the exclusive preserve of federal authorities. Anyone interested can confirm the details https://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:12100:0::NO::P12100_ILO_CODE:R030.

 

If anything, the convention allows for the flexibility for each country to apply the guiding principles to its circumstances through consultative processes that take into consideration all the interests in the country’s labour market. The guiding principle is ‘to ensure that each member ratifying the convention is in possession of the information necessary for a decision upon the application of minimum wage-fixing machinery, the wages actually paid and the arrangements, if any, for the regulation of wages should be ascertained in respect of any trade or part of trade to which employers or workers therein request the application of the machinery and furnish information which shows prima facie that no arrangements exist for the effective regulation of wages and that wages are exceptionally low.’

 

Nowhere in the convention is it provided that minimum wage-fixing is the exclusive responsibility of federal authorities. There is the requirement for a structure to manage the responsibility of fixing minimum wages. This is to ensure that ‘minimum wage-fixing machinery, whatever form it may take (for instance, trade boards for individual trades, general boards for groups of trades, compulsory arbitration tribunals), should operate by way of investigation into the relevant conditions in the trade or part of trade concerned and consultation with the interests primarily and principally affected, that is to say, the employers and workers in the trade or part of trade, whose views on all matters relating to the fixing of the minimum rates of wages should in any case be solicited and be given full and equal consideration.’

 

The structure should have representation from government, labour and employers. Note that governments are expected to participate both as employers as well as sovereign authorities having the responsibility to promulgate laws, which should be respected, based on agreements reached. In fact, the role of governments as sovereign authorities, which also cover the obligation of enforcing the laws are more critical. It is expected that government’s role as employer of labour should be secondary and in the event that role of government is influenced more by its responsibility as employer of labour will weaken the process of minimum wage fixing as provided in ILO Convention No. 30 of 1928.

 

Globally, in compliance with the provisions of the ILO Convention No. 30, two approaches are adopted by ILO member countries in fixing minimum wages. There is the committee method and there is the notification method. The committee method involves government setting up a committee to undertake enquiries and make recommendations for fixing minimum wage. The notification method is based on government publishing proposals in official gazettes to inform affected persons. Before publishing the proposal, the government is expected to make consultations. The difference between the two is largely theoretical. Often, the scope and orientation of collective bargaining structures in ILO member countries dictate the approach adopted.

 

Perhaps, it is also very important to highlight that all the experiences of ILO member countries across the world in handling challenges of minimum wage-fixing emphasises the presence of some preliminary technical functions to arrive at consensus. Part of the technical work is largely around the process of estimating or computing specific economic variables of productivity, cost of living and affordability. Once those variables are established and agreed by all the different interests, it is then easy to fix the minimum threshold for wages, which then become the minimum wage.

Experiences of all ILO member countries will further confirm that fixing minimum wages is never the exclusive preserve of federal authorities. Since our model of democracy is that of the United States of America, it should perhaps be the first reference. In the US, the minimum wage is set by the US Labour Law and a range of state and local laws. As at January 2020, there were 29 states and D.C. with a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum. Almost 90% of US minimum wage workers are earning more than $7.25 per hour, which is the minimum wage at the federal level in the US.

The federal, states and counties make laws for the minimum wage. The minimum wage for each level is negotiated. Different states are able to set their own minimum wages independent of the federal government. When the state and federal minimum wages differ the higher wage prevails. As at January 2018, there were 29 states with a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage. Washington, D.C, and New York City have the highest minimum wage at $15.00 per hour. By January 1, 2021, California has the highest state minimum wage at $14.00 per hour, which will be raised to $15 per hour starting January 1, 2022. The minimum wage in New Jersey is $12.00 an hour as of January 1, 2021, but will be raised by a dollar a year until 2024 when it will be $15. Massachusetts minimum wage is $13.50 per hour. A number of states have also in recent years enacted state preemption laws, which exclude local governments from setting their own minimum wage. As at 2017, state preemption laws for local minimum wages have been passed in 25 states.

Legislation has been passed recently in multiple states that significantly raises the minimum wage. California, Illinois, and Massachusetts are all set to raise their minimum wages to $15.00 per hour by January 1, 2023, for California and Massachusetts and by 2025 for Illinois. Colorado raised its minimum wage from $9.30 per hour to $12 per hour by January 1, 2020. New York has also passed legislation to increase its minimum wage to $15.00 per hour over time, with certain counties and larger companies set on faster schedules than others. Some smaller government entities, such as counties and cities, observe minimum wages that are higher than the state as a whole.

The National Minimum Wage in the United Kingdom is set depending on your age, and whether or not you are an apprentice. It has been in place since 2005, and several changes to the way it operates have been made over time. At present, the minimum wage applies to any worker aged 16 or over. However, there are some exceptions, such as people who are working in their employers home, or who are undertaking voluntary work. In these cases, the National Minimum Wage might not apply. For eligible workers aged 25 and over, the minimum wage is known as a National Living Wage. It is expressed as an hourly gross payment, and reviewed every April. For the period April 2017 to March 2018, the National Living Wage paid to employees aged 25 or over, was £7.50 per hour. The National Minimum Wage is set by the UK government. It is reviewed every year, and usually, most categories get an annual increase.

However, as the system is quite complicated and based on a number of different age bands, there have been years when employees of certain ages don’t get their minimum pay increased.

Some other countries negotiate with trade unions and employers, and agree on what should be the minimum wages. This means that there could be different minimum wages depending on the sector. Belgium, Norway and Sweden work in this way. Other countries have a different way of managing minimum wages. Singapore has minimum wages set by the government, but only across some low income sectors. These minimum wages are applicable to Singapore nationals and permanent residents only – although employers are encouraged to extend them to other workers as a minimum, too. And yet other countries don’t have any minimum wage at all, preferring to leave employers and employees to negotiate on an individual basis.

Coming closer home, in South Africa and Ghana, the minimum wage is determined through negotiations between unions, employers and government. The National Minimum Wage (NMW) in South Africa was increased to R21.69 per hour from March 1, 2021. The 93c increment was announced by Employment and Labour Minister, which is in line with the NMW legislation of January 1, 2019. It is illegal and an unfair labour practice for an employer to unilaterally alter hours of work or other conditions of employment in implementing the NMW. In Ghana, government-mandated minimum wage provides that no worker in Ghana should be paid less then the mandatory minimum rate. Employers in Ghana who fail to pay the minimum wage may be subject to punishment by the government of Ghana. Weekly rates per month are calculated 4.33 times the standard hours per week.

What all these means is that the process of minimum wage-fixing across the world varies in almost every ILO member country. As much as every federal authority plays an important role in facilitating the process of fixing the minimum wage, it is never their exclusive legislative jurisdiction. How, as a nation, Nigeria arrived at the constitutional provision of assigning minimum wage under the exclusive legislative list is completely not based on the guiding principles provided under ILO Convention 30 of 1928.

It is however necessary to recognise that there are legitimate fears expressed by organised labour in Nigeria on the potential that the process can be abused if our states are allowed to fix minimum wages through moving the minimum wage to the concurrent legislative list. What is required to address such a problem is to revive the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC), which normally has representation from labour, employers and government. It used to serve as the tripartite body in Nigeria for the resolution of major labour challenges. As things are, NLAC is hardly existing.

If we have NLAC, why can’t we have members agree to all the variables determining minimum wage in the country – productivity, conditions of living and affordability, based on which the national minimum is reviewed on an annual basis being the proposed benchmark for the country? The National Bureau of. Statistics (NBS), National Salaries, Wages and Income Commission and National Productivity Centre (NPC) can handle the task of providing information about the variables of productivity, cost of living and affordability. With objectively computed information, the process of achieving consensus that highlights the minimum threshold for wages can be handled very effectively. An agreement under the NLAC can serve as the federal minimum wage. Once an agreement is reached at the level of NLAC, a prototype minimum wage bill can be developed and sent to the National Economic Council (NEC), chaired by the vice president of the Federal Republic with governors of the 36 states as members. Following consideration and adoption by NEC, states can then domesticate provisions of the agreement as contained in the prototype bill based on their peculiar circumstance.

This model was used around 2005 for instance to resolve the challenge of amending our pension law. When the contributory pension law was passed by the National Assembly and assented to by President Olusegun Obasanjo, both unions, employers and state governments were opposed to the new pension law. But through consultations at the level of NLAC, both labour and employers agreed to a prototype pension bill, modelled on the provisions of the new Pension Act, which was presented to the NEC. Eventually, NEC adopted the prototype pension bill, which was transmitted to all the 36 states. The rest is now history as all states have domesticated the pension act based on their peculiarities.

Part of what needs to be resolved is the issue of whether states are allowed to adopt minimum wages below the agreed federal minimum wage established by NLAC as adopted or approved by NEC. Or what minimum wage should apply to workers employed by private organisations whose operation covers many states? First, no state should be allowed to have a minimum wage lower than the benchmark as provided in prototype bills adopted by NEC. Secondly, in the case of private employers operating in more than one state, the highest minimum wage should apply.

The current debate about whether states can make minimum wage laws is basically about correcting the distortion in terms of applying the principles of minimum wage fixing as provided in ILO Convention 30 of 1928. It is important we appeal to leadership of organised labour, especially NLC, to stop promoting false information.

The fourth distortion that needs to be corrected is that the proposal to transfer the minimum wage to the concurrent legislative list is to stop the payment of N30,000 minimum. Although, many state governments and private employers are having difficulty implementing the N30,000 minimum wage, we should separate the problems associated with implementing agreements from the bigger challenge of correcting wrong procedure used in fixing the minimum wage in the country. Problems of implementing agreements can be addressed with reference to invoking the provisions of Nigerian arbitration laws, which is what ILO Convention 30 of 1928 recommends. As a nation, we have an arbitration law. Why is the leadership of organised labour not taking advantage of provisions of our laws to enforce the implementation of the minimum wage law?

For emphasis, the challenge before us as a nation is about developing the capacity of our democracy to resolve national problems. It will amount to undermining our democracy to seek to block consideration of proposals before the National Assembly demanding the transfer of minimum wage to the concurrent legislative list of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended. It is quite disappointing that labour leaders are organising protests and threatening to declare a national strike because the National Assembly is considering a democratic proposal. Organised labour and NLC leadership in particular need to be reminded that before the bill can become law, it will have to pass democratic stages that can accommodate labour’s demands.

Specifically, the House of Representatives Committee on Labour will have to organise a public hearing which will invite the submission of organised labour. Even if the bill is passed by the House of Representatives after public hearing, it will require the concurrence of the Senate, with another public hearing necessary. Assuming it is passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, being a matter requiring Constitutional Amendment, it will have to go to State Assemblies and will need endorsement by at least 24 States House of Assemblies. Assuming the bill passed through all these stages, it will have to be assented to by the President of the Federal Republic.

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There is a wide scope of opening for engagement with the different layers of our democratic structures in the country to win the support of elected representatives to prevent the bill from coming into law. Instead of exploring how to engage democratic structures and prevent the bill from coming into law, the NLC leadership went to the over- drive mode of protest and threats of strike. Unfortunately, in all of these, it is doubtful if the NLC, its affiliates and all our organised labour bodies in the country are implementing the minimum wage of N30,000 for their employees. Ideally, he who comes to equity should come with clean hands. This is hardly the case. The boundary of accountability should cover organised labour.

Another related issue is that respect begets respect. Leaders of organised labour need to moderate how they easily and cheaply allege that anyone who is critical or opposed to their position is doing the bidding of others. It appears that the only language they speak in campaigning for their demands is to slander people who disagree with them. We should relate to debate based on the capacity to explain our positions and win support without resort to blackmails. Blackmail and name-calling will not resolve our challenges as a nation.

NLC leadership and organised labour can allege whatever fancies their imagination, it will not resolve the challenge around issues bordering on the implementation of the minimum wage in Nigeria unless we are able to have the courage to do the needful, which is about recognising the rights of all employers and the constituent units of our federation to negotiate and determine laws that affect them.

Finally, there are claims in the media that the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended provides for a review of the minimum wage in the country every five years. Nowhere in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution is such a provision made. What came close to that was by the current Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila in 2017, then as Majority Leader, when he proposed the amendment of the Minimum Wage Act to insert the clause that “The Minimum Wage shall be subject to periodic review every five years.” This proposal was never passed by the 8th National Assembly.

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It is important that all these distortions are corrected. Our democracy must be insulated from distortions and falsehood. The struggles of Nigerian workers for a just and better Nigeria should not be oriented based on falsehood and distortions. The earlier the NLC leadership retrace their steps and return to the path of truth and democratic engagement to win the support of Nigerians, including elected representatives, the better. Political bullying is antithetical to democracy and is counter-productive to the struggles for decent wage!

Dr. Lukman is the Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum. But this position does not represent the view of any APC governor or the Progressive Governors’ Forum.

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Opinion

Enforcing Traffic Rules In Lagos

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Enforcing Traffic Rules In Lagos

By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
Last week, officials of Lagos State government auctioned 134 vehicles that had been impounded from traffic offenders. It was a tough measure, indeed, insensitive considering the harsh economic climate that we live in. Some of those vehicles were bought on hire purchase. There was the example of a 49-year-old widow Dorothy Dike whose bus was auctioned. The tears in her eyes and the painful expression on her face broke the hearts of many. It was reported that her driver Osinachi Ndukwe, had spent three months in prison for the offence. Yet they were compelled to look on as their only source of livelihood ‘bought at the rate of N1.8million on hire purchase was auctioned for N450,000’. Law enforcement should carry a human face. What kind of law prescribes a jail term of 3 months and forfeiture of vehicle for driving against traffic? Inhuman and insensitive. Bad law. Wicked law. Callous.

I must admit that traffic in Lagos is a nightmare. For a first timer in the city driving in Lagos is hazardous. Often on the expressways within the city, the impression is that there are no rules. Mile Two to Oshodi. Mile to Badagry. Yaba to Ikorodu. Lekki Toll Gate to Epe. People just drive ‘anyhow’! A visiting American friend once said that driving on Ikorodu road was like ‘science fiction! Not a compliment. The average driver in Lagos is short-tempered, rude, aggressive, and hostile. The commercial bus drivers carry the trophy among drivers. They are filthy, uncouth, law breakers, and Lords of the Roads. Traffic officials often look the other way when most of them break the rules. They do not obey traffic lights. They stop sometimes in the middle of the road to pick up passengers. In fact, traffic control measures offend their sensibilities. They would rather there were no rules, that is, if they are conscious of existing rules! By the way, when does LASG plan to get rid of those yellow buses as it did the notorious ‘Molue?

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Of late, that is, since Okada drivers were wisely kicked off the major roads, Keke drivers have entered the space of mad drivers. Like the okada riders, they are death traps for both passengers and other drivers. Obviously, they do not know the rules. They are not regulated. They do not pass a driving test. I wonder if anyone issues driving licences to them. Perhaps they do. But are they required to pass the rigorous test that ought to guide drivers in Lagos? The impression is that anybody who knows how to press on the throttle and control the wheels can drive those dangerous toys in the country. I know they pay daily ‘tributes’ to officials of NURTW. In some areas, they are in cahoots with traffic managers and controllers- they get away with anything! I recall an experience in 1999 when a bike rider riding against traffic near Rutam House in Oshodi was accosted by traffic controllers and he declared that this was democracy and that he could ride his bike the way he liked!

Some drivers of private vehicles are like their commercial vehicle drivers’ counterparts. They respect no rules. They are ready to pour invectives on the next person an account of a minor brush while jostling for space across lanes! Indeed, it seems that to drive in Lagos, one must learn all the swear and insulting words in Yoruba! ‘Ori o da! ‘We re niyen’, ‘ode buruku, ‘omo ale’ ‘ori buruku’ are some routinely used. A senior colleague once declared that it was driving in Lagos that gave him hypertension. I got to know this in my early days in Lagos when I rode in his car from University of Lagos Campus in Akoka to Gbagada through Bariga! I can vividly remember how he got worked up as the yellow buses dominated the road with reckless abandon for the rules of engagement! Sadly, it still happens along that route and most other inner roads within the metropolis. I don’t envy the LASTMA officials in the city of Lagos. They deserve a good pay and ought to be on one-day-on-one-day off duty arrangements! Anyone who works every day on traffic control in Lagos will either lose their sanity should they decide to do the job effectively or die early!

Another downside to the traffic menace in Lagos is the number of deaths recorded in accidents. For example, the FRSC reported that ‘between January and August 2021, 101 persons died while 625 sustained different degrees of injuries in road crashes. The figures for 2022 are not available yet. I suspect it will be higher than the 2021 figures. I also believe that not all accidents are reported.

Against this background therefore, we understand why the Lagos State government has gone tough on driving infractions within the megacity by rolling out some harsh and inhuman rules. Anyone who drives without a licence would have their car impounded and possibly auctioned off later. If a person under 18 years is caught driving, they would pay a fine of N30,000 and go to jail for 3 years. If you drive without road worthiness, the vehicle will be impounded. The following offences attract impounding the vehicle – doing ‘kabu kabu’ without permit, disobeying LASTMA officer, smoking while driving, no car hire service permit, and driving on walkway or kerb!

I have established my familiarity with the insanity in driving Lagos. Yet, any law which goes for the object rather than the subject is inhuman. Make the law breaker pay huge fines or go to jail. But set the vehicle free once the fines are paid. If Lagos State government is serious about regulating traffic in the state, they should start with commercial buses. The general thinking is that party faithful own the buses and so most of these scoundrel drivers get away with murder. Some traffic officials are compromised. Some are arbitrary and overzealous. In some areas, traffic rules are not clear, that is, there are no signs to indicate the status of a road. I had been a victim of this absence of rule regime on Victoria Island. In some cases, yellow buses are allowed to drive against traffic. If a private vehicle driver follows that example, from nowhere state officials appear and arrest the driver. Indeed, some traffic officials mislead drivers into breaking the law and leave colleagues to arrest them while they look the other way.

Laws are meant for the regulation of behaviour in society. They are not meant to destroy lives. Security officials especially policemen and soldiers should desist from breaking traffic offences. They are not above the law. The outcry against impounding of vehicles should elicit an immediate response from the Executive and Legislative arms of government immediately by suspending that provision. The fines for driving or riding against traffic should be raised. There will still be offenders, yet their livelihood will not be tampered with. I urge the Lagos State government to recall the auctioned vehicle of Dorothy Dike. Her vehicle should be given back to her. Her driver broke the law. She did not. She should not suffer economic injury because her driver was foolish. If the world is abolishing the death penalty for homicide in favour of long jail terms, it is indicative of the new thinking. Harsh, inhumane laws are antithetical to societal growth and harmony.

Finally, there is a spirit of ‘hurry-now-else-you-will-miss-it’ that drives everyone in Lagos. Is this why FRSC used to send traffic offenders for mental evaluation? What accounts for this? Fear? Desire to get to one’s destination quickly before ‘wahala’ comes? Whatever it is, if we make all the rules without moderating the frenetic pace of life in Lagos, more people will pay fines and or go to jail.

Professor Eghagha can be reached on 08023220393 or heghagha@yahoo.com

 

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Opinion

Counterterrorism, Technology, And Development In Africa

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Counterterrorism, Technology, And Development In Africa

By Toyin Falola
Undoubtedly, Africa has a persistent issue with insecurity. Terrorist groups like Boko Haram and Al-Shabab have continued to endanger the security of people’s lives and property as well as the survival of democratic governance in Africa. Unsurprisingly, the threat of terrorism has put Africa’s collective development and growth in even greater jeopardy. Due to the fear of investing in countries affected by terrorism, economies have collapsed. As statehood in some of these impacted countries slowly deteriorates, political advancements have also been hampered. Lately, discussions have focused on how crucial it is for African governments to stop this threat and nip terrorism in the bud. Africa is experiencing a rise in terrorism, which in addition to other humanitarian disasters, has caused mass migration and the loss of lives and valuables.

One of the key factors contributing to the domination of insurgency is the frailty of political institutions in most African countries. The blunt truth is that terrorism grows when the government is unwilling to combat it. Take the case of Nigeria as an example, the government’s longstanding unwillingness to engage in tactical warfare with Boko Haram has blown the destructive activities of the terrorist group beyond proportion, creating fertile ground for other insurgents to rise, and daily, it becomes even more complex to eradicate them. Repeatedly, worries have been expressed about the predicament of African countries in the face of internal and international terrorist attacks, as well as concerning potential repercussions for African political states, most of which have been labelled as weak or failed states.

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While different state actions have been carried out against terrorist groups, the lack of robust democratic institutions in Africa is a significant barrier to the success of counterinsurgency efforts across the continent. African nations have been unable to work together to combat insurgency due to acrimonious politics. A close examination of leadership structures in African nations reveals that most of them are unsuccessful. How would this lead to success against the rebels in nations where the state and the people are constantly at odds? Internal conflict hinders African democratization and fosters rebel domination in return. It is sadder that democratic leaders also take advantage of their nations’ security to run for political office. Regrettably, most African leaders now place fighting terrorism at the top of their list of political priorities just because it commands a lot of emotions that can sway elections in their favour and not because they genuinely want to tackle it. Most African states’ security structures are, in fact, relatively flimsy. In many nations, domestic conflict further expands security gaps and creates the conditions for the insurgency to flourish.

In debates about terrorism, technological progress is unavoidable. Terrorists in Africa are developing, thanks to technical advancements. Terrorism and counterterrorism rapidly assume a new shape in their operations and subject engagement due to the expanding global instrumentalization of technology. Although both countries and terrorist organizations are modernizing their operation methods, there is evidence that many terrorist organizations in Africa are rapidly creating technical solutions to enhance their lethal operations. The internet, especially, is one technical tool feared for its potential to significantly impact global security. Policymakers are concerned about how communication networks like the internet may be used to carry out terrorist activities. Internets, specialized websites and social media platforms are frequently used in conjunction with secured networks to set up chat rooms for talks and activity monitoring, produce disinformation that could incite panic and conduct recruitment in Africa. Today, terrorist organizations like Boko Haram, Al-Shabab, and others use untraceable video and audio recordings to broadcast attacks, demand ransom for hostages, and engage in other despicable activities.

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Terrorism in Africa has a detrimental effect on the socioeconomic and political developments of the region. However, it has been demonstrated that successful counterterrorism has benefited, or at the very least can improve, the socioeconomic and political environments on the continent. Like every other continent, Africa has experienced significant terrorist activity. The effects of terrorism, however, have affected Africa far more than other, more developed continents. Terrorism still exists on the continent of Africa despite the efforts of various African nations and regional and international organizations to combat it. The failure of the different counter-terrorist strategies launched to maintain long-lasting peace on the continent has exacerbated the continent’s underdevelopment. Despite security issues, Africa lags behind other continents in scientific, social, and political progress.

These reasons are why it has become paramount for African counterterrorism efforts to keep up with technological advancement. Due to the unique characteristics of each nation, the specific insurgent groups, and the nature of operations, counterterrorism battles in Africa assume diverse forms and employ varied techniques. Departments, institutions, and programs have been established in countries to address the crime afflicted by terrorism. In addition, several laws, regulations, and directives have been passed to guarantee the success of counterterrorism initiatives and tactics. Technology and new technologies are used to acquire additional intelligence and prepare for counter operations.

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Creating powerful political institutions is the first transition stage African nations must go through. A nation’s political structure has a significant role in determining its security architecture. Launching counterterrorism investigations and conflicts between the political class and those in important leadership positions with access to resources and intelligence that could jeopardize government efforts is the second transition stage. As a result, corruption and money laundering are curbed, closing doors to money that may be readily transferred to fund terrorists. Additionally, collaboration with the public is required to create a community policing operation. By acting as informants and providing the necessary information to security personnel, citizens would be involved in the security architecture of African states. African nations must also calm ethnic tensions that could lead to domestic conflict because internal weakness in a nation creates favourable conditions for insurgency growth. Insecurity in Africa stems from internal crises that aim to undermine people’s safety and the African state’s coherence. Therefore, individual African states must organize more effective counterterrorism policies.

For this to be accomplished, effective political leadership and corporate governance must be ingrained at the internal level of the African state. Each African state administration must understand that defeating terrorism requires teamwork and must demonstrate the capacity and willingness to achieve victory. This is because if internal conflicts are permitted to persist and damage the political structure, it will pave the way for external forces to invade. African nations must fortify political institutions in their particular domains to achieve a change in the security architecture. Also, African governments must work together with other nations to implement counterinsurgency strategies. The African Union and regional organizations like the ECOWAS must intervene to maintain Africa’s peace and security. African nations must cooperate on forward-thinking projects to reach a common goal.

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The trajectories of political and economic progress have been significantly impacted by security issues brought on by internal conflict, civil wars, and terrorist acts. In light of the continent’s security issues and other difficulties, and to address the problems that are slowly destroying the continent, African political leaders must use the opportunity to restructure the continent’s democratic system. The promises made by African leaders to develop counterterrorism technology development plans must also be reaffirmed. Establishing strong democratic and political institutions in each African state is crucial to transform Africa into a safe continent free from terrorist attacks and other types of danger. These institutions must be capable of using the military and diplomacy to combat terrorism.

Lastly, the effectiveness of the actions and policies put in place by the individual governments of African countries will significantly impact the future trajectories of counterterrorism and security in the continent. For African nations to effectively battle terrorism and firmly establish peace and security throughout the continent, better political institutions must be built, alliances with militarily stronger states must be formed, and counterterrorism policies and actions must be well coordinated. African nations must build strong political leadership and corporate governance in the battle against terrorism to overcome the insecurity dilemma brought about by terrorists in their continent. Only then can the fight against terrorism in Africa be won.

. Excerpt from a Keynote Address, International Conference on “Counterterrorism, Technology and Development in Africa”
September 22, 2022
Stellenbosch University and Obuda University.

 

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Opinion

‘No Work, No Pay’: Oppressors’ Law

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'No Work, No Pay': Oppressors’ Law

By Tony Afejuku
“No work, no pay” has since gained currency as never before in a kind of obviously puzzling manner that has befuddled me as drink befuddles a drinker it makes stupid but I am not a drinker of drinks that should make me stupid. I am a drinker and eater of ideas, thoughts, notions, concepts, curiosities and more and more remedies, and conditions and desires that make it hard and impossible for me to bow the knee. Nothing befuddles me. Yet I must utter this confession: the “No work, no pay” remark that has protruded from the protruding tongues of the men and officials of protruding stomachs in government and outside government seems to perplex me. The phrase or remark has been particularly popularized in a very, very bastardized manner since ASUU has declared its popular strike of more than seven months now as “total, comprehensive and indefinite.” Of course, some television pundits, newspapers’ reviewers and anchors who have lately made remarks that mark them as our oppressors’ megaphones have reminded us that “No work, no pay” is an “extant law” – whatever they mean or meant by that. ASUU has rightly and correctly countered the oppressors by saying and insisting that “No pay, no work” is its members’ fundamental human right. This countering remark of ASUU’s supreme lords titillates me immeasurably. But this for now is foreign to my declaration here. And my autobiography hopefully anchors here.

What, indeed, I am challenging and will always join ASUU and the Nigerian worker to challenge is the declaration of our oppressors that “No work, no pay” is part of our law – extant or not extant. I don’t need to be a labour law lawyer or labour law expert to descend on the “formulators” or “champions” of “ No work, no pay” which did not emanate from collective bargaining in a formal meeting between ASUU and FGN’s representatives. All the utterers of the remark in the endeavour to threaten and cage ASUU members to submission are nothing but boon-dogglers. But much more seriously they are members of the mediocre, unimaginative, materialistic class exploiting and humiliating the working class. In this country in particular many of them who, as a matter of fact in Marxist terms and thought are bourgeois, prefer to close their eyes and ignore the reality of the circumstances of the Nigerian working class. The “No work, no pay” remark they have uttered and declared as an “extant law” is the “law” of the bourgeoisie which this class enacts or promulgates to make the worker perpetual and forever victim of its onslaught. The bourgeoisie class consists of capitalists, manufacturers, bankers, and other employers of labour within and outside our central and states’ governments. What I am saying or have said is the unholy relationship between the worker and his/her bourgeois exploiter and oppressor is not new.

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What the many bourgeois in our central government in particular find strange is the tough and strange resistance that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has mounted against them. In fact, for a long period of seven months plus ASUU members have defied the oppressors who have deprived them of their salaries of serfs and slaves in their feverishly and wickedly pale wisdom of “No work, no pay.” The bourgeois government is taken aback by ASUU’s rare power, courage and consciousness of resistance. Indeed, this rare power, courage and consciousness of resistance that welds the members of the union together in a manner that suggests that they were prescribed a seasoned doctor’s effective medicine, has inflicted their oppressors, each one of them, with an unusual and spectacular borborygmus. What a constraining rumbling of each one’s stomach of cavalier discomfiture!

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And clearly for ASUU, hunger has turned out to be a tonic that is or that has become more than a curative tonic. It has become milk of resistance. It has imbued each typical member of the union with an anger, a desire, a wish, a joylessness, an un-happiness, an intolerance, in short a longing not to bow the knee. If Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), the “hugely influential French philosopher, novelist, and playwright” who in 1964 rejected the Nobel Prize in Literature was invoked and requested in his grave to say a word or two on the character of ASUU he would probably have said that “there’s gold not mud in your veins, pride not servitude.” My dear and very dear readers, ASUU, I must say is Nigeria’s King of Resistance. ASUU’s law promotes a supreme act of generosity towards every state and shade of colourful justice. ASUU’s reputation as a resister of fascism and the mind-set of the exploiter and oppressor has spread throughout the world. You better believe me!

It is important to stress time after time that ASUU is in the bad and black book of the ruling bourgeoisie because of the union’s quest for the absolute in terms of its purposes for our public universities. Primarily for this reason the lord-less lords of the manor have denied members of ASUU their richly and rightly deserved due. In fact, the hollow lord-less lords are determined to employ their possessed power of coercion which possesses them to turn our intellectuals into a class of classless workers to be continuously undermined. Through the payment of ASUU members “proletarian” wages regardless of their academic and intellectual worth, standing and solid degrees, the average politician in political power today wants our dons to understand that each one of them is now no more a don but a mere “worker” who is a “wage earner” to whom the ridiculous “law” of “No work, no pay”, must apply. All kinds of laughable excuses and reasons are being tendered to make this impossibility possible. Or am I building castles in Alor-land?

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Even assumed liberal journalists, and newspapers’ reviewers (who clearly are conservatives), especially in the electronic media are seemingly accepting the situation. I can vividly remember and recall two or so in our television houses. This past Tuesday, one of them whom I have nicknamed “Let-us-be-realistic” on account of his repeated use of the phrase to make pointless points about lack of resources to meet ASUU’s legitimate demands, had a field-less field-day because no one was in his almighty studios to counter him. Did ASUU steal Nigeria’s oil which on a daily basis many officials in and outside government steal? And why must we be devoting our sole attention to petroleum-and-gas to generate and re-generate our economy that corruption that is corruption has disabled? Is ASUU responsible for this? And why can we not pay real interest in agriculture to sustain our economic, educational and medical growth and advancement, for instance? And the wastages of the tax-payers’ monies on frivolities, did ASUU cause or inspire them? Journalist-and-newspapers’-reviewer “Let-us-be-realistic” would prefer to ignore the criminal and uneconomic reality that ASUU did not create. Perhaps I should here relate the news to all those who care to know that your country my country our country, the giant of Africa, is not “ranked among the top 10 countries with the best educational system in the Dark Continent,” as Biodun Busari recently reported in Vanguard Online. Are you surprised? You better don’t be – as I deliberately spare you sumptuous details of the report. We have seen nothing yet. The useless “No work, no pay” policy of this government that is killing and crushing the dream and future that are our dream and future will eventually crush the mode of action of the grand-off-springs of this deceitful divide-and-rude and rule-and-divide government’s dramatis personae. They are too dumb to know this fully because they think it won’t happen. How eyeless they are in their pompousness! But why do I speak where no one has my kind of eyes? Why do I speak where no one has my kind of ears? O Thot! O Nietzsche! I invoke you dear, dear, dear Masters as I am losing my cool! May ASUU reject and decline the enemies of the masses and of our tax-payers’ doctrine of coerced submission to a situation and reality of wretchedness! Let this sentence be a reminder that you are the real and authentic King of Resistance in the land. To death you won’t starve – despite your current kingly pain. Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! Thunder!!!

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

 

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