Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Tajudeen Abbas, has stressed that Nigeria’s fight against corruption will continue to be a mirage until government gives the worker a living wage.
The Speaker, who spoke Thursday at the 63rd Independence Day Anniversary Public Lecture, at the State House Conference Centre in Abuja, noted that with piling bills to settle and the wage being inadequate to meet the needs, the Nigerian worker might find it difficult not to be involved in graft.
According to him: “But one thing I must also have to emphasize concerning all their contributions is an area that previous administrations have not taken serious and that is the issue of living wage and the fight on corruption.
“The discussants have spoken, may be slightly on one issue, and that issue is the issue of coming up with a living wage. It’s the foundation of a corruption-free society. If a worker is paid well, he is paid enough to be able to afford his basic needs, it will help to eliminate corruption in a significant way because he doesn’t need to steal to be able to feed his family. He doesn’t need to steal to be able to pay his rent. He doesn’t have to steal to take his children to school.
“Today in the Nigerian project, this is what is completely absent, particularly when we look at the socioeconomic realities of today; the hyper-inflation, the level of our wage, I don’t see how any Nigerian can be able to work in a transparent and an effective manner.
“So I’ll want to call on this administration to please look into this issue, let us for the very first time, sit down and look at means and ways of coming up with an effective living wage system, a way that each and every Nigerian, irrespective of your position, you’ll have enough to eat, you’ll have enough to pay rent, you’ll have enough to pay for your transportation to office.
“Unless we solve that problem, the issue of corruption will continue to be just a mirage. Fight against corruption will not succeed”, he said.
Abbas said the 63rd independence anniversary is an opportunity for all Nigerians to reflect on where the nation had gotten it wrong in the past and think up solutions to forging a better future.
“I’ll want to seize this opportunity on behalf of the National Assembly to congratulate the President, the Vice President, the entire executive branch, and indeed the Nigerian people for this golden opportunity we have to celebrate the 63rd anniversary.
“It is an opportunity for us to reflect on where we have gotten it wrong in the past and be able to come up with solutions that will ensure that the future is going to be a much better one”, the Speaker said.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja