Nigeria: Minimum Wage - Governors Speak On Challenges of Implementation

(file photo).
19 December 2019

The 36 state governors, under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors' Forum (NGF), have said they would negotiate independently on the consequential implications of the new minimum wage.

The NGF chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, said this while briefing reporters at the end of a meeting on Wednesday, at the NGF secretariat.

He was responding to questions on whether the governors would backtrack on the new N30,000 minimum wage since it was not included in the communique of the meeting.

Mr Fayemi said the issue of payment on the minimum wage was already a settled matter, and all the state governors had agreed to pay.

He further said that "the matter which is yet to be resolved is the consequential adjustment salary increase for other categories of workers".

Mr Fayemi, however, said, "fingers are not equal", because states would have to undertake a discussion over the consequential payment "for the other levels at their various state governments".

"The minimum wage is a settled matter, and the governors have indicated without any equivocation that we subscribe to the act of parliament that has been passed on the national minimum wage of N30,000, there is no debate and we have accepted that," Mr Fayemi said.

"But the negotiation thing is not so much about the minimum wage but it is about the consequential impact on the minimum wage on the higher level.

"And each state has started that process. If the Nigerian Labour is not fully aware of the status of the negotiations in the various states, we would be happy to share the information available to us with them.

"But as far as we are concerned, there is no opportunity or decision in the governor's forum to backtrack on the agreed minimum wage.

"We would not do that. However, fingers are not equal, states have to negotiate in terms of the consequential implications for the other levels.

"For example, there may be a state that is in a position to pay 50,000. But what we can tell you is that no state would pay less than N30, 000 when we finally get to that point," he added.

Perennial debate

The agreement over consequential adjustments on the new agreed N30,000 minimum wage had remained a major concern between the labour and the state governors.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported the NGF in October saying the agreement between the federal government and organised labour on consequential adjustments on the new minimum wage is not binding on state governments.

Mr Fayemi had also assured that there would be consequential adjustments but that would be determined on a state by state basis.

Background

President Buhari signed the new minimum wage bill into law on April 18. But its implementation was stalled over salary adjustments and disagreement between the labour unions and government representatives.

Specifically, the problem centred around the issue of relativity and consequential adjustments of salaries for various categories of workers.

The federal government then argued that the minimum wage was for junior-level workers (levels 1 to 7) and that salary increase for other categories of workers would have to be negotiated.

On May 14, the federal government inaugurated the relativity and consequential adjustment committee, which set up a technical subcommittee to work out a template for the adjustment of salaries of public service employees in line with the minimum wage law.

The controversy was resolved between both parties on October 18, following which FEC approved the implementation.

The labour minister, Chris Ngige, later announced details of the agreement to journalists.

Speaking on behalf of the union, the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, had said both parties participated in the process and made input.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) at its meeting in October presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo approved the agreement and set dates for the take-off of the new wage and payment of the arrears.

FEC also directed that the payment of the new salary structure should take effect from April 18 and the arrears cleared by December 31.

But the NGF chairman has said the agreement and directive apply only to federal workers.

"I am sure you know the FEC does not determine what happens in the states, the states have their own states executive councils and that is the highest decision-making body at the state level," Mr Fayemi said.

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