Still on the tenterhooks of our new ‘allowee’

Education Features Human Rights Interview NATIONAL

Sir: It is appalling that the chronicle of the minimum wage which has been in the news, has indeed created so much clamour that not only workers, but Youth Corps members too are getting apprehensive to receive alerts on the increase. So many are hoping they enjoy the increase as the Director General of the National Youth Service Corps, Brig. Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim noted that; the monthly allowance is tied to the national minimum wage and any increase will depend on it.

For a while now, corps members like myself, are entitled to N19,800 as their monthly allowance popularly called ‘allowee’ for short! However, we have been hoping we also enjoy the new minimum wage too as it sometimes become difficult for that amount to sustain a host of corps members – most especially in cities where prices are exorbitant. Painfully, some places of primary assignments do not pay corps members, while some pay as low as N5000 and others owe their staff let alone corps members. Some of these corps members must rent apartments because of the unavailability of corpers lodge to rest at night.

For some corps member, places like Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt are presumed to be hot cakes for job opportunities and high payments to corps members: but prices of groceries and apartments are quite expensive. As such, there is a tendency that there are lots of corps members who suffer but cannot voice out or be heard due to the unavailability of appropriate channels to lament to. Well, all over the world, it is believed that remuneration increase in the public sector is underlined by the principle of equity and the need to bridge social inequality in the face of widening economic and social gaps amongst citizens of a country- whether corps members or staff. Moreover, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has since the 18 of April 2019, when the new minimum wage was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari been in odds with the Federal Government over its proper implementation. And this has resulted as a result of the series of consequential adjustment agreements between both parties involved.

It could be recalled that, sometimes back, the management of the NYSC said it could not afford to pay the N30,000 minimum wage to corps members because it is yet to get such order to do so from the Federal Government. This was when the DG debunked the claim circulating on social media of a fake twitter attached to him saying, corps members will be paid the new minimum wage that month.

On the other hand, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare has just disclosed on his Twitter handle that, the Federal Government has begun planning for the payment of the new minimum wage to corps members. Also stressing that, DG NYSC will provide details on the new ‘allowee’ for the corps members after full briefing from both Ministry of Finance and his. Our hope is that, we enjoy the new minimum wage so that we resign from the helms of the continued and relentless struggle to survive on the N19,800 wage. For so many are indebted, some are to cater for their needs and that of their sibling, while some are to live better rather than pleading and begging for lift or trek to their respective PPAs.

Our prayer as corps members is that we ask the Federal Government, minister of Youth and Sports Development and NYSC management to consider our case and that of the people affected by the increase. Even though the increase is still not enough, it will go a long way in solving some challenges. And lastly, we hope it doesn’t end as a ‘cock and bull’ story as it has always been; for we still hope to enjoy the ‘teeny-weeny’ increase.

Source: Isah Ismaila Gagaraw, a serving corps member in Abuja for Guardian NG

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