Nigeria: Minimum Wage - Consultation Moves to Council of State

17 January 2019

The National Economic Council (NEC) says it will take the consultation on a new minimum wage to the Council of State on Tuesday.

This is even as governors have insisted that N30,000 as minimum wage is impracticable without a review of the present federation account sharing formula that allocates 26.72 percent to the states.

Speaking with State House correspondents on Thursday after the NEC meeting, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said discussions are still ongoing.

On the insistence of governors that they cannot pay N30,000 as minimum wage, the minister said, "Well it's not a question that the governors are saying that they can't pay N30,000, discussions are still ongoing and will terminate on 22nd January when we meet with the National Council of State", he said

Asked if the governors are shifting ground, Mr Ngige said governors are part of Nigeria and they are part of the public sector, "so don't disengage them or disarticulate them from the federal government. The public is the federal government and the state government and even the local government.'

"Figures, the frequency of review, those that have an exemption and everything about the bill will be dealt with so that people will know. Because by then we will be ready to transmit it to the National Assembly in consonance with our agreement with labour that we will transmit the new bill on or before the January 23," he said.

The federal government has repeatedly dithered on labour's demand for a new wage figure, refusing to commit to N30,000 recommended by a tripartite committee. While the federal government had proposed N24,000, the governors insisted on N22,500 but the organised labour is also adamant on N30,000 which was agreed upon during the Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee and submitted in the report to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The organised labour also threatened to shut down the economy once the government fails to transmit the bill, and even vote against any candidate in the forthcoming elections that refuses to implement the new minimum wage of N30,000.

Mr Buhari had assured he would review the recommendation and send a bill backing a new wage figure to the National Assembly.

The Nigerian government on January 8 picked January 23 to present the bill for a new national minimum wage to the National Assembly, a move aimed to stop the organised labour from starting a strike about a month before a presidential election.

Meanwhile, Mr Ngige said protests and threats are no longer necessary since the parties have reached an agreement.

"On the part of the government, we are going to try to religiously implement all the processes that will enable us to transmit this bill within the stipulated time. We have a target time of January 23 and we hope that all things being equal, the executive will be able to do so. We will take it to the statutory meetings of Federal Executive Council, National Economy Council and the National Council of States to enable us to transmit the bill on the new national minimum wage," Mr Ngige said

The meeting of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) which is expected to discuss the issue of a new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers failed to hold Wednesday due to lack of quorum.

But only five out of the 36 governors turned up for the meeting Wednesday evening at the NGF secretariat in Abuja.

Those who came were the governors of Zamfara, Bauchi, Jigawa, Niger and Adamawa states. Governors of Kaduna, Enugu, Nasarawa and Katsina sent in their deputies.

Nigeria's Council of State

The Council of State consists of the President, who is the Chairman; Vice-President, who is the Deputy Chairman; all former presidents of the Federation and all former Heads of the Government of the Federation; All former Chief Justices of Nigeria; President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representative; all the Governors of the states of the Federation; and Attorney-General of the Federation.

The last time the council met 11 months ago, on February 22, it was to deliberate on Nigeria's economy, security and 2019 elections.

The council advises the president in the exercise of his powers with respect to the: national population census and compilation, publication and keeping of records and other information concerning the same; Prerogative of mercy; Award of National honours; The Independent National Electoral Commission (including the appointment of members of that Commission); The National Judicial Council (including the appointment of the members, other than ex-officio members of that Council); and The National Population Commission (including the appointment of members of that Commission).

The council also advises the President whenever requested to do so on the maintenance of public order within the Federation or any part thereof and on such other matters as the President may direct.

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