Nigeria: Buhari Transmits Minimum Wage Bill to National Assembly

President Muhammadu Buhari; Senate President Bukola Saraki and former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the National Council of State Meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
24 January 2019

President Muhammadu Buhari has transmitted the National Minimum Wage Bill to the National Assembly after its approval by the National Council of State.

This is coming as the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) have opposed the proposed N27,000 minimum wage approved by the National Council of State and backed the organised labour on the N30,000 wage bill.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, confirmed yesterday that the bill was transmitted to the parliament earlier in the day.

Enang, however, did not give details of the content of the bill.

The National Council of State had approved the sum of N27,000, which the federal government, however, said it would increase to N30,000 for its workers.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) rejected the N27,000 new National Minimum Wage adopted by the National Council of State last Tuesday.

The NLC General Secretary, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, said the council has no jurisdiction determining another amount after a Tripartite Committee has submitted its report.

"It is abysmal of government to be delaying the submission of an Executive Bill to the National Assembly and by wrongfully adopting N27,000 through the council of states," he said.

Ozo-Eson, however, said the NLC has called an emergency National Executive Council meeting for Friday to weigh on the deadline given to government within which to submit an executive bill to the National Assembly.

The NLC general scribe added that the federal government was only projecting a shutdown of the economy with its latest action.

"This is because workers should not be held responsible for any development after its NEC meeting on Friday," he said.

The Labour has therefore shifted it battle for a realistic wage to the National Assembly, lobby the lawmakers to approve N30,000 for workers.

Meanwhile, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) has opposed the proposed N27,000 minimum wage approved by the National Council of State.

In a statement issued yesterday by its President, Malachy Ugwummadu, the group said the intervention by the Council was meant to undermine the agreement reached by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the federal government, urging the NLC to resist the move.

CDHR argued that the Council of State has no such power to approve any amount as they did, describing the intervention as unconstitutional considering that under S.153(1) and particularly in part 1, 3rd schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended), the role of the Council of state was merely advisory on clearly identified issues excluding the minimum wage pointedly provided for under S.34 of the Exclusive Legislative list and regulated by the National Minimum Wage Act.

The statement read in parts: "The fragmentation of minimum wage where state government workers would receive N27,000 while their counterparts working for the federal government would receive N30,000 is totally unacceptable. The market does not discriminate between federal and state workers and as such, this represents the continuation of hardship for the average Nigerian worker.

"It is not proper for the National Council of State to approve another sum when it has not sought the approval of the NLC, TUC, UTUC and other trade unions with whom the federal government negotiated. The National Council of States is ordinarily bound by the agreement reached by the federal government and labour. Indeed, nobody, not even the court is encouraged to vary or undermine a verifiable agreement reached by parties."

Also, CDHR has urged the federal government to address the protracted dispute that resulted into the ongoing strike embarked on by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

"We hereby demand that the federal government should address the issues raised by the lecturers to enable Nigerian students in public universities resume their studies. ASUU has been on strike since November 5, 2018 and it is very unfortunate that the federal government is yet to fully address their requests. Again, it exposes the scant respect that successive governments of Nigeria pay to agreements duly reached."

CDHR advised the federal government to work on the implementation of those agreements whether with ASUU or Labour, adding that previous failures at implementing promises have made it difficult for the common man to trust that the government would honour their word.

"It is only logical for the government to transmit the already prepared and attached National Minimum Way Bill to the National Assembly for legislation. Every person who works hard is certainly entitled to his wages and lecturers are by no means an exception to this.

In a related development, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has also rejected the N27, 000 minimum wage approved for Nigerian workers by the National Council of State.

NUT Secretary General, Dr. Mike Ene, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja yesterday that the council should make the new minimum wage equal across board.

"It is unfair and needed to be addressed immediately because a worker is a worker everywhere in the country, either with the federal or state government.

"The N30, 000 translates to N1,000 per day; we insist that the 30, 000 stands for all workers in the country," Ene said.

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