Written by Sarah NEGEDU, Godfrey AKON

20 states against N30k minimum wage

 here are indications that the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, may face tougher battles in the days ahead in their quest to get state governors to implement the N30,000 minimum wage proposed by the Ammal Pepple-led committee.

Close to 20 state governors have expressed reservations over the proposed N30,000 new minimum wage proposed by the tripartite committee, stressing that the states were not in a stable financial position to pay.

Among the governors instating on the N22,500 minimum wage are: Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Simon Lalong (Plateau) Jibrilla Jindow (Adamawa),Mr. Darius Ishaku (Taraba), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom); Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi); Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti );Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe) . Others are governors Yahaya Bello (Kogi); Rochas Okorocha (Imo); Aminu Masari (Katsina)Akinwumi Ambode (Lagos) ;Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo); Umaru Al-Makura (Nasarawa); Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta State); Kashim Shettima (Borno) and Rauf Aregbesola ( Osun).

While the governors of Edo, Rivers, Kano, Abia and Anambra have openly expressed their readiness to pay the minimum wage, the others are yet to make their positions known.

The Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, had argued that the new wage is not sustainable and any attempt to compel the states to pay such an amount could make the states insolvent. The governors gave conditions for payment which includes an upward review of states allocation from the federation account, or downsizing of the workforce.

Chairman of the governors’ forum, Abdul’aziz Yari, had on November 15, at the end of an emergency meeting of the governors in Abuja that the N22,500 proposed by the states was not considered by the Ama Pepple-led tripartite panel.

Yari said, “We have seen what has been presented to the President by the committee. As a member of the committee, the Kebbi Governor said the committee did not take our submission of N22,500 because it came late.

“I am surprised how you can do this without the input of the states, because the states are the key stakeholders in this business. So, a situation whereby our report is not taken or considered by the tripartite committee to present to the President then I don’t know how the committee wants us to work.”

Meanwhile some governors are said to be getting set to go to the National Assembly to canvass their position during the public hearing that will be organised by the law makers.

When contacted for reactions, the Head of Media and Public Affairs of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, Mr Abulrazaque Barkindo, restated the position of the state governors rejecting the report of the tripartite committee earlier submitted to President Muhmaadu Buhari on November 6.

Barekindo said the governors view the resolutions as inconclusive, warning that some states were insolvent and may not survive any move to accede to the demands of labour to pay N30,000 minimum wage.

“There is no agreement yet. The tripartite committee submitted its report to the President on the 6th of November. Before it did so, there was no single governor who appended his signature to the resolutions of the committee. So the committee’s report, as far as the governors are concerned, was inconclusive.

“Our chairman, the Executive Governor of Zamfara State, said as much that he was shocked that our proposal of N22,500 to that committee was presumed to be late. And governors are a very key forte to the tripartite committee because they are going to implement whatever minimum wage that they arrive at, at the subnational level,” he said.

The NGF spokesman disclosed that up to 17 or 18 states were doing a pro-rata arrangement to be able to pay the current N18,000m, adding that in spite of the constraint, the states have agreed to move forward to pay the N22,500 as a threshold.

He dismissed allegations by some Nigerians that the governors do not take the welfare of workers seriously as the rhetoric of NLC, maintaining that the labour union does not care about Macro and micro economic implications of the clamour for N30,000.

According to him, the N22,500 proposed by governors was only a baseline as there are states that can pay more, but warned that even states that can pay more would eventually fall into economic problems as their wage bill increases.

“I have gone through all the manifestos of NLC presidents over time. I have never seen one that says I am going to secure you a job, make sure that the civil service is functional and make sure that things work properly in ministries.

“Now, the point is this, if governors are saying that this is what they can pay, it is only a threshold, a baseline. There are states that can pay more. There are states that are insolvent and it’s not likely that they would survive if they pay N30,000. Governors are saying that even the states that offered to pay more would ultimately fall into economic problems if they go along with N30,000,” he said.

On its part, the Presidency seems to have bowed to pressure from the labour. It is however not certain if the federal government will be willing to start implementation of the new wage before the presidential elections scheduled for February 16, 2018.

President Buhari, while receiving report of the Tripartite Committee on Review of National Minimum Wage, had expressed his commitment to having a new National Minimum Wage Act.

The President promised to set machinery in motion to close the gap between the N24,000 proposed by the Federal Government and the N30,000 put forward by organized labour as soon as possible. He added that the arguments of government and organized labour on the two figures are valid.

 

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