Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has admitted that remunerations of Nigerian workers are generally poor in the country, including his own and that of the President.
Speaking at the end-of-year seminar of the State House Press Corps at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Prof. Osinbajo disclosed that he earns about N1.5m as Vice-President while President Buhari earns about N1.75 million, adding that the pay is not commensurate with the offices they occupy.
At the event themed: ‘Journalists and Retirement Plans’, the vice president also expressed misgivings about the remuneration of journalists and lawyers, saying journalists’ case is unique because many media owners make big revenue but simply refuse to pay good wages.
According to Osinbajo, public sector earnings must be scrutinised, with a view to determining the right wages for workers. He also criticised the private sector for not respecting the national minimum wage law, which puts the lowest pay at N18,000.
While stressing that Nigerian workers are poorly paid, the Vice President, however, noted that the case of journalists was unique because many media owners are making the revenues but simply refuse to pay journalists better as and when due.
He recalled his brief encounters working with media houses as legal adviser, and how in all the months he worked, he was not paid despite the irregular hours he put in.
Osinbajo spoke of entry into journalism as not rigorously regulated or enforced by professional bodies because untrained persons are allowed in. He said:
”I realised first of all that this (journalism) is not a profession from which one could make a decent living in the first place unless you find a really good way of doing so.
”But more importantly for me is that you are just on your own. Journalism as a profession is so wide open.
”There are a few reasons in my view why remuneration is poor.
”The first is that it is just simply cheating. There are owners of media that are just cheats. They just want to get something from nothing and that is not uncommon, it is a general malaise, it is not necessarily restricted to the media.
”It is also the same in the legal profession. There many lawyers if they tell you what they earn, you will certainly not want to be a lawyer.
”The private sector does not respect the minimum wage. Even if a minimum wage is set nationally, it is not necessarily respected by the private sector and this is something that should be factored into the status of a company and whether a company is even complying with the requirements.”
The Vice-President urged journalists to brighten their prospects and future by always seeking ways of improving themselves and getting better job opportunities with attendant improved income.
Osinbajo also noted the role of professional associations guiding journalists and lamented that they do not adequately engage media organisations that don’t pay their workers or journalists enough or not at all.
Chairman of the occasion, Governor Tanko al-Makura of Nasarawa state, represented by the state Commissioner of Information, Mohammed Kwara, stressed that a good retirement plan starts the very day one is employed.
Others who presented goodwill messages at the ceremony were Minister of Information Lai Mohammed; Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi and Special Adviser (Media & Publicity) to the President Femi Adesina.