No fewer than 25 states of the federation have failed to meet the December 31, 2019, deadline given by organised labour to conclude all negotiations on the consequential adjustment arising from the N30,000 new minimum wage or face industrial unrest.
Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, had on December 31, 2019, in its New Year Message, directed its state councils to start preparing for industrial protest against defaulting governors.
It said: "We use this medium to implore states that are yet to implement the new national minimum wage, including the states that are yet to begin negotiation with labour on the consequential wage adjustment to speedily do the needful. In tandem with our position as adopted and communicated after a stakeholders' meeting on December 11, 2019, organised labour in Nigeria will not guarantee industrial harmony in states that fail to implement the new national minimum wage by December 31, 2019. We direct our state councils to be on the standby to robustly engage state governments that fail to obey our laws."
Vanguard checks revealed that only six states have begun implementation of the new wage, while five states have concluded negotiations with organised labour on consequential adjustment and agreed to commence implementation this month (January). Meanwhile, four states are yet to set up committees for the negotiations of the consequential adjustment.
However, 21 states are still embroiled in negotiations on the consequential adjustment.
The states that have commenced implementation are Lagos, Kaduna, Kebbi, Jigawa, Kano and Adamawa, while the five states that agreed to commence implementation this month are Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Bauchi and Katsina.
Similarly, the 21 states at different stages of negotiations are Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Ogun, Oyo, Edo, Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Imo, Plateau, Zamfara, Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Bornu, Sokoto, and Gombe, while those yet to commence negotiation are Yobe, Nasarawa, Taraba and Niger states.
It will be recalled that while the N30, 000 new national minimum wage was signed into law on April 18, 2019, by President Muhammadu Buhari, Organised Labour and the Federal Government agreed on the consequential adjustment on October 18, 2019, after protracted negotiations.
Following the perceived slow pace of most state governments in constituting negotiating committees for the consequential adjustment to pave way for the implementation of the new wage across the states, labour last month issued a December 31, 2019, deadline for the government to conclude negotiation on the consequential adjustment for face industrial unrest in the New Year.
The governors, who did not take the ultimatum lightly, had toward the end of December rejected the ultimatum by the leaders of NLC, and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, twice.
In Ondo State, the leadership of NLC in the state informed Vanguard that it was yet to reach any agreement with the state government over the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage.
Chairman of the council, Sunday Adeleye-Oluwole, said: "It is instructive to note that, Ondo State government set up negotiation team in November 2019 and up till now, negotiation is ongoing."
Ekiti State Chairman of TUC, Sola Adigun told Vanguard that a meeting with the government had just been held.
According to him, "inaugural meeting had been held on December 23, 2019, and during the meeting, the labour side was able to present its demand to the government. The two sides agreed to have a sub-technical committee to look into the nitty-gritty of the matter. We are expecting the government to present what it wants to give to the workforce. Our expectation is simple, we want Governor Kayode Fayemi to honour his promise to the workforce that he's going to pay the minimum wage and which by the grace of God he's going to do."
In Osun State, while negotiation on the consequential adjustment is still on-going, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola while inaugurating the negotiating committee, assured that his administration was willing to pay the new minimum wage but the state will have to double its Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, to meet the funding.
Also in Ogun State, though negotiation is ongoing, it appears government and labour in the state are not on the same page.
Governor Dapo Abiodun said negotiations were in the final stage with the representatives of the labour unions in the state as all the grey areas were being sorted out.
But the state Chairman of NLC, Emmanuel Bankole, told Vanguard that "the last meeting in the ongoing negotiation for the implementation of minimum wage between Ogun State government and the organized labour was deadlocked."
In Oyo State, the situation is dicey. Though the government led by Governor Seyi Makinde, had set up a committee to look into the issue of the minimum wage, on assumption of office, the governor promised that he would pay the new minimum wage as soon as the state was financially buoyant. A labour leader told Vanguard that the coast was not yet clear for the payment of the minimum wage.
According to him, just last Tuesday, the committee to negotiate with the government met at the office of the Secretary to the State Government, adding, "yes, the governor has set up a committee to look into it. It was set up in the office of the SSG. The membership comprises members of NLC and officials of the state government. We hope that very soon, something will be done on it."
The Bayelsa State government has set up a 12-man committee for the negotiation of the consequential adjustment of the new minimum wage. Negotiations have begun as its inaugural meeting was held last Friday.
The committee, which has two weeks to submit its report, according to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Orientation, Mr Mightyman Dikuro, has the State Head of Service as its Chairman, while the Permanent Secretary, Establishment & Training, Special Adviser to Governor Seriake Dickson on Treasury and Accounts are members.
Others are Chairman and Secretary, Joint Negotiation Council, Chairman and Secretary of State NLC, Chairman and Secretary of TUC, Chairman of NULGE, NUT and representative of tertiary institutions.
Cross River State
In the same vein, on December 24, last year, Cross River State government paid civil servants their last salary for the year but was silent on the increment based on the minimum wage agreement of N30,000 benchmark.
The government has since not made any statement on when it will implement the new minimum wage for the workers.
Speaking with Vanguard, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, Chairman in Cross River, John Odey, said a Negotiating Committee was set up by government headed by the Deputy Governor, Prof Ivara Esu, but the deputy governor thought it wise to allow the Head of Service to take charge of the responsibility and a meeting was held on December 24, between the government and Joint Negotiating Council, comprising, TUC, NLC, while another meeting is billed to hold this month to conclude negotiations
Akwa Ibom State
As at last month, Akwa Ibom State government was still discussing with labour on the implementation of the minimum wage.
State Chairman of NLC, Sunny James, who spoke after a meeting held on December 31, 2019, said they made progress at the meeting held on December 30, 2019.
James, who regretted that the state could not meet the December 31 deadline given by NLC for the implementation of the new minimum wage in all the states of the federation, expressed hope that the next meeting on the issue would yield results.
Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki in his New Year broadcast promised to begin payment of the new minimum wage for workers in the state, assuring of new initiatives to enhance the comfort of civil servants in the state.
Although he did not give details of the consequential adjustment needed before the implementation of the payment, organised labour said they were optimistic that the details would be sorted out.
On his part, Edo State chairman of TUC, Ohue Marshall, said they were optimistic that the details of the agreement would be ready and make life better for them.
He said: "The state governor has promised that he will pay the minimum wage as soon as agreements is reached, he has not derailed in that promise, so as I speak with you, efforts are being made to conclude the process and as soon as it is concluded, it will take off."
Rivers State State
Rivers State Chapter of NLC has informed that the union is yet to conclude negotiations with the state government on the minimum wage. Chairperson of the Rivers State Chapter of the NLC, Mrs Beatrice Itubo, expressed hope that the negotiation will be completed as soon as possible, adding that state government would implement the new figure beginning from this January.
In Delta, the consequential adjustment negotiating committee set up by the government is ongoing. However, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has agreed to pay whatever the Federal Government would pay at the federal level.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, who spoke to Vanguard, said the state government had set up a committee headed by Secretary to the State Government, Mr Chiedu Ebie to interface with labour leaders in the state.
In his New Year message to the people of Abia State, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu announced that workers in the state would be paid a new minimum wage from January 2020.
The state Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi confirmed the position of the state on the issue.
Similarly, Anambra State government said it would start paying the new minimum wage to its workers this January. The state Information Commissioner, Don Adinuba confirmed this to Vanguard.
Also, in Ebonyi State, Governor Dave Umahi has directed the state Accountant-General and all the Local Government Chairmen to commence the payment of the new minimum wage to civil servants from this month. In a statement confirming the governor's directive, his Special Assistant on Media, Francis Nwaze said: "In compliance with the governor's approval to commence the payment of new minimum wage to civil servants effective from January 1, 2020, in Ebonyi State, he has directed the state Accountant-General and all the Local Government Chairmen in the state to seek overdraft and ensure the payment of the new minimum wage to civil servants by January 10, 2020."
In Enugu State, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has set up a technical committee led by the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Prof. Simon Ortuanya to work out the final financial details and smooth implementation of the N30, 000 minimum wage. Commissioner for Information, Chidi Aroh confirmed that "action is in progress with a technical committee working out the final financial details."
However, in Imo State, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Emeka Ihedioha, Chibuike Onyeukwu confirmed that "The state hasn't started paying yet, but the governor has about a week ago, inaugurated the Joint Negotiation Committee for the N30, 000 minimum wage, headed by the Secretary to the State Government, Uche Onyeagucha with other stakeholders, NLC, TUC, among others, as members."
In Taraba State, no negotiation has commenced, though government said it would negotiate with workers in the state to determine the consequential adjustment the state government would be able to afford, to avoid backlogs.
Senior Special Assistant to Governor Darius Ishaku on Media and Publicity, Bala Dan Abu disclosed this to Vanguard.
In Nasarawa State, the negotiating committee was scheduled to be inaugurated yesterday (Monday). The NLC State Secretary Oyishoma Joshua confirmed this to Vanguard.
In Minna, organised labour in the state has given the state government a 21-day ultimatum to pay the N30,000 new minimum wage or face indefinite strike action.
Labour said it was left with no option than to issue the ultimatum to the government following its inability to adequately respond to issues raised in an earlier letter to the government.
In Yobe State, the state government is yet to set up a committee to negotiate with labour over the consequential adjustment. An official of the state NLC, Mohammed Lawan, said: "the government is yet to constitute the negotiating team on the payment of new minimum wage. Labour leaders are ready to negotiate with any committee formed by the government."
Governor Bello Mohammed has constituted a nine-man committee to negotiate modalities for the smooth implementation of the new minimum wage.
The Benue State government has already set up a committee comprising labour leaders and government officials to negotiate the consequential adjustments on the new minimum wage ahead of the implementation in the state.
Inaugurating the committee recently, Governor Samuel Ortom, represented by his deputy, Benson Abounu said the committee has a serious duty in negotiating what would eventually become a salary structure for Benue civil service and its parastatals.
"I urge you to take the assignment seriously, be dutiful and committed. Information from the Ministry of Finance would be critical in this assignment. You should reach out beyond the State to be abreast with what obtains in other states."
On his part, the Chairman Joint Negotiating Council 1, 2 and 3, Ojema Ojotu assured that labour would be considerate and cooperate maximally during the negotiations.
Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State has since November 2019 set up a panel to implement the national minimum wage and consequential salary adjustments for workers. He mandated the 10-member panel to submit its report to him within three weeks, but it could not be confirmed at press time whether the committee concluded the assignment and has submitted its report.
However, unconfirmed reports indicated that the governor is committed to implementing the N30,000 minimum wage after completion of the ongoing biometric data capture of staff in all the 27 Local Government Areas in the state.
The Bauchi State Government has approved the payment of N30,000 new minimum wage for employees in the state.
Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Mohammed Baba, said in a statement that the approval is with 'immediate effect,' commencing from January 1, 2020.
In Gombe State, the state government is yet to agree on some consequential adjustments. Deputy Governor and Chairman of the Negotiation Committee, Dr Manassah Jatau, last week made it clear that the state will pay the new minimum wage.
According to him, after hours of negotiations, "we have been negotiating on the minimum wage for quite some time now, however, there will be another meeting. The issue is not whether the Gombe State government will pay because we definitely will. At the moment, what the committee is interested in is the incremental rate and not whether or not the minimum wage will be paid."
Sokoto State government has inaugurated a committee to negotiate with labour on the consequential adjustment for the implementation of the new wage.
The committee is headed by the chairman of Sokoto State Rent Control and Safety of Persons Commission, Alhaji Muhammadu Abdulrahman is also expected to work out modalities for the commencement of the new minimum wage.
No reason not to pay -- NLC
Meanwhile, the leadership of NLC, yesterday said state governments do not have any reason not to pay the N30,000 minimum wage, adding that the wage was now binding on all states following President Buhari's assent.
Speaking during an interview, yesterday, on a private television station, monitored by Vanguard, President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, noted that 10 states had completed the process of negotiating with the state workers.
According to him, "Let us also not lose sight of the fact that from the day the President assented to the bill, it had become law. So, states have no reason not to respect a law that had been enacted."