Labour, FG & State Governors, Still At Impasse Over N30,000 Minimum Wage

The Organized Labour has given a December deadline to the Federal Government, for the full implementation of the N30,000 new national minimum wage or face serious consequences. It also warned that any reduction in the N30,000 agreed by the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage, as contained in the report to the President or any further delay in its passage will lead to devastating consequences.

The President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama and the Secretary General of the Association of Senior Civil Servant of Nigeria (ASCSN), Comrade Bashir Lawal, gave the warning at the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the ASCSN, held at the Chida Hotel, Abuja on Tuesday. They said Nigerian workers patiently await President Muhammadu Buhari, to forward the Executive Bill to the National Assembly for its passage into law. 

In his speech, Comrade Kaigama, who is also the National President of ASCSN, said the expectation of labour is that the full implementation of the N30,000 new minimum wage should not exceed December.

“It is on this premise that I strongly want to appeal to the Federal Government to fast track the process of enacting the new National Minimum Wage into law,” he said, adding that government should be able to complete the entire process before the end of this.

Meanwhile, Nigerian governors have asked the organised labour to choose between its proposed N30, 000 minimum wage, and downsizing of the workforce across the country. This was contained in the communiqué issued at the end of an emergency meeting by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) in Abuja. The governors said it is impracticable for states to pay N30,000 unless the workers were willing to agree to job cuts, or the Federal Government accedes to a review of the national revenue allocation formula.

Reading the communiqué, the chairman of the NGF, Governor Abdul’aziz Yari, said the forum has also put together another committee to meet President Muhammadu Buhari again, to work-out another formula towards quickly resolving the minimum wage.

Members of the committee include governors of Lagos, Kebbi, Plateau, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Enugu and Kaduna states.

But answering questions from journalists, Governor Yari said “We have seen what has been presented to the President by the committee. As a member of the committee Kebbi State 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 want us to work.

“But we still say we want to pay but the issue is the ability to pay. If we say no, it is not about the ability to pay, just pay, I don’t know how this formula will come and I don’t know how we can get solution to the issue.

“The N18,000 today, when the president assumed office 27 states were not able to pay, not that they chose not to pay. So now that you say N30,000, how many of them can pay? We will be bankrupt.

“So as Nigerians we should look at the issue seriously. While other people are saying that governors are flying private jet and living in affluence, that one is not luxury but compulsory.

“The issue of government overhead cost if you put it together with personnel cost, it cannot solve this problem. Like Lagos that is paying about N7 billion as salaries if you say it should pay N30,000, now it will be N13 billion. From our calculation, it is only Lagos State that will be able to pay N30,000. As Nigerians, this is our country, there is no other country we have and we should be fair to this country.”

Asked the way forward, Yari said the governors would continue to talk with Labour, to let them see reasons why governors have difficulties.

“Some of us have Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). For instance, the money Lagos State is using to pay is not coming from Abuja. They have a way of getting their money from the IGR and that is why they can afford to pay. They get money through VAT. Apart from Lagos, even Rivers cannot afford to pay. So we have been crying out about this since 2011 but no one will listen.

“One critical example is that some state ration their salaries while some others put everything they earn on the table and ask labour to come and see and they ask them to suggest how much should go for capital and personnel cost. Some say 70 percent for personnel cost and 30 percent for capital projects and yet the states cannot pay and they put the remaining as outstanding.

“If you are talking about oil, the price is not what it used to be, from last year to date, it is $20 less from $75 to $55. So where is the money to pay?

“We should not exploit this matter further; we are leaders today, tomorrow others will be there. So let us look at this matter seriously to see how we can do it properly. It is our primary responsibility to see that everybody is happy.”

When reminded that part of labour grouse was that governors have refused to submit audited account, the NGF chairman said, “we have given the committee audited account of the states to guide them. But if they put the audited account for the past 10-14 years, can you get something out of it? We are going to use the report of the audited committee to make further presentation.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had said that it would not to accept anything less than the N30,000 recommended to the President by the Tripartite Committee. It also gave December as deadline for all processes leading to the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage else they will embark on industrial action.

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