The Nigerian governors on Wednesday night threatened the Nigeria Labour to expect sacking of some workers if they must be paid N30,000 minimum wage.
The governors also asked the Federal Government to also accede to the review of the national revenue allocation formula.
This was state by Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State who is the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum. According to Yari, a committee would be setup to meet President Muhammadu Buhari over the issue, adding that the committee would work out another formula towards quickly resolving the problem.
“Following a meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum where we deliberated on the national minimum wage, governors resolved to re-strategise and put together another committee to meet with the President once again, to work out another formula towards quickly resolving the problem associated with the proposed N30.000 minimum wage which is impracticable unless labour agrees to a downsizing of the workforce all over the country or the Federal Government itself accedes to the review of the national revenue allocation formula.
“Members of the committee who were nominated to see the President include the governors of Lagos, Kebbi, Plateau, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi. Enugu and Kaduna.”
Governor Yari noted that the governors had seen the report presented to President Buhari by the Tripartite Committee headed by Amal Pepple.
Yari noted that the committee did not even consider the earlier submission of the governors that they could only afford to pay N22,500 as minimum wage.
“We have seen what has been presented to the President by the (Tripartite) Committee.
“As a member of the committee, our representative there said the committee did not take our submission of N22,500 because it came late.
“I am surprised. How can you do this without the input of the states because the states are the key stakeholders in this business.
“So, a situation whereby our report was not taken or considered by the Tripartite Committee … then I don’t know how the committee wants us to work.”
“But we still say we want to pay, but the issue is the ability to pay,” he noted
“If we say no, it is not about the ability to pay, just pay, I don’t know how this formulae will work and I don’t know how we can get a solution to the issue.
“We are paying N18,000 (as minimum wage today), but when the President assumed office, about 27 states were not able to pay, not that they chose not to pay.
“So, now you say N30,000, how many of them can pay? We will be bankrupt (if we pay). So as Nigerians, we should look at the issues seriously.
“While other people are saying that governors are riding jets and living in affluence, that one is not luxury but compulsory.
“Like Lagos that is paying about N7bn as salaries; if you say it should pay N30,000, now it will be N13bn.
“From our calculation, it is only Lagos State that will be able to pay N30,000. As Nigerians, this is our country; there is no other country we have and we should be fair to this country.”
“As for the way forward, we will continue to talk with Labour. Let them see reasons and difficulties some of us have.
“For instance, the money Lagos State is using to pay is not coming from Abuja.
“They have a way of getting their money from the IGR and that is why they can afford to pay. They get money through VAT (as well).
“Apart from Lagos, even Rivers State cannot afford to pay. So we have been crying out about this since 2011 but no one will listen.
“One critical example is that some states ration their salaries while some others put everything they earn on the table and ask labour to come and see and ask them to suggest how much should go for capital and personnel costs.
“Some say 70 per cent for personnel cost and 30 per cent for capital projects and yet the states cannot pay and they put the remaining as outstanding.”
Yari noted that it was wrong to use the price of crude oil to determine the minimum wage, apparently because crude oil prices are unstable.
“So, let us look at this matter seriously to see how we can do it properly. It is our primary responsibility to see that everybody is happy.
“It is the same labour that is pushing for the N30,000 that will still turn around to say that the governors did not do any infrastructure and how are we going to achieve that by paying only salaries?”
Nigeria Labour responds to governors sack threat
The Nigeria Labour in its response to the sack threat issued by the Nigerian Governors Forum if it must pay N30,000 minimum wage, said that the governors should not mix up the issue of negotiation for minimum wage with sacking.
The response was issued by Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, the General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress.
He noted that the NLC was only interested in pursuing what would be the minimum wage for Nigerian workers and ensuring that they (workers) are not subjected to slave/master situation.
“The process of downsizing is governed by an established process under the International Labour Organisation Convention,” he said.
“We are not discussing downsizing of the workforce or employment of workers,” he added.
“What we are discussing is the minimum wage. We want to know exactly what the minimum wage is. The issue of downsizing is of collective bargaining. The issues should not be mixed. We don’t want workers to be slaves to their employers,” he noted