Members of the House of Representatives on Thursday passed the new National Minimum Wage bill for a second reading, shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari transmitted the draft legislation to the lawmakers.
The president's letter, read to the lawmakers by the speaker, Yakubu Dogara, urged the amendment of the National Minimum Wage Amendment Act 2011 to raise the minimum wage from N18,000 to N27,000.
A tripartite committee set up by the government recommended N30,000, but the National Council of States on Tuesday accepted that figure for federal staff and recommended N27,000 for state and private sector workers.
The Nigeria Labour Congress rejected the N27,000, insisting on N30,000 for all workers.
The bill passed the first and second readings at the Senate on Thursday, hours after Mr Buhari sent the draft legislation to the lawmakers.
The executive bill initiated by the Executive arm was presented by the Deputy Majority Leader, Idris Wase (APC-Plateau).
Deliberation on bill
Contributing to the bill, Edward Pwajok (PDP-Plateau) commended the leadership and members of the house for turning out to deal with the issue of minimum wage.
He said that section 3 of the bill states that no employer of labour shall pay less than N27,000 to workers.
The lawmaker said there would be sanctions for disobedience on the part of any employer and that affected workers could approach the National Industrial Court.
Mr Pwajok, however, explained that employers with less than 25 workers were exempted from complying with the new minimum wage bill when passed into law.
Also contributing, the Deputy Whip of the house, Pally Iriase (APC-Edo) said the bill had to reflect the agreement reached by the tripartite committee on minimum wage.
According to him, "some states say N30,000 is not sustainable but it is clear that the cost of governance could be reviewed to pay workers".
Mr Iriase urged members of the House to work on the bill at the committee level to ensure the House passes N30,000 as the new minimum wage.
Also speaking, Kayode Oladele (APC-Ogun) said the poverty level in the country was very high and it was not a respecter of religion and tribe.
He said when the bill is passed into law, it would further address the menace of poverty in the country.
According to Mr Oladele, when workers earn well, they will be happy and productivity will increase.
He urged members to support the bill and pass it for the benefit of the Nigerian worker.
On his part, Adamu Chika (APC-Niger) said though the increase was a welcome development, N27,000 was not acceptable.
He said economic indices show that N27,000 is grossly insufficient and that the clause in the bill which states that the law cannot be reviewed in the next five years should be reduced to two.
Another lawmaker, Sunday Karimi (PDP-Kogi) said that given the inflation rate in the country, the increase "was a decrease when compared to the last time the wage was reviewed".
According to him, "it is not that the government cannot pay N30,000 but corruption has been the problem".
Mr Karimi said rather than fighting corruption squarely, political fights were being fought in the guise of fighting corruption.
The legislator said some states were owing workers several months salaries while others were under-paying in spite receiving the bailout funds and Paris Fund.
Mr Karimi said there was a need to pass a law that would prevent public funds from ending up in private accounts.
After a lengthy debate, the house set up an ad hoc committee headed by Deputy Speaker Yussuff Lassun to take up further legislative actions on the bill.
The committee is to conduct a public hearing on Monday and report to the house on Tuesday for speedy passage.