HomeNEWSMinimum Wage Dilemma: Governors Focus on Sustainable Payment Plans

Minimum Wage Dilemma: Governors Focus on Sustainable Payment Plans

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Afor Kenneth 

As discussions regarding a new minimum wage for workers in Nigeria continue, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum has stated that they have not yet finalized their assessment of what the states can feasibly afford to pay sustainably.

A statement released by the Chairman of the Forum, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, highlighted that the forum’s members are part of the 37-member tripartite committee tasked with determining the national minimum wage.

However, the committee has not yet concluded its work.

He said: “The governors are reviewing their fiscal space to see the consequential impact of the various recommendations.”

READ ALSO: Nigerian Workers Who Are ‘Engine Room Of The Nation’ Deserve More Than A 35 Per Cent Increase In Minimum Wage

“While we acknowledge various initiatives adopted of recent by way of wage awards and partial wage adjustments, it is imperative to state that the 37-member tripartite committee inaugurated on the national minimum wage, is still in consultation and yet to conclude its work.

“As members of the committee, we are reviewing our individual fiscal space as state governments and the consequential impact of various recommendations, to arrive at an improved minimum wage we can pay sustainably,” the statement read in part.

Despite the ongoing deliberations, the governors affirmed their commitment to the process and assured that improved wages would inevitably result from the ongoing negotiations.

“We remain committed to the process and promise that better wages will be the invariable outcome of ongoing negotiations”.

The organized labor has put forth a proposal for a monthly minimum wage of N615,000 for workers, urging the federal government to endorse it. Despite concerns about the sustainability of this new demand, labor unions argue that the substantial increase from the current N30,000 minimum wage is justified given the current economic circumstances in the country.

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Joe Ajaero, emphasized that the governors’ ability to pay the proposed minimum wage would hinge on their ability to prioritize effectively.

However, Ajaero, during an interview on television rejected assertions that some states would struggle to meet such a payment if approved.

“Well, I think we need to understand the issue of ability to pay and the issue of not getting the priority right now,” Ajaero said.

“Most of the states that have shown a willingness to pay are not among those that are getting the highest revenue. Even during the time of General Muhammadu Buhari, some states were declared as not having enough money to pay and he released funds for them to pay, those states still went ahead and refused to pay.

“Now, it’s not a question of whether the quantum of money they have or not is what they decide to do with such money. If they get their priority right, then a lot can happen.”

The NLC president suggests that states should consider diversifying into mechanized agriculture and other sectors. He believes that achieving self-sufficiency in food production will play a significant role in combating the challenges posed by the current economic downturn.

“Remember I told you before that if we do what we are supposed to do in terms of what is expected of us as a government and as people and we’re able to check inflation, check all other indices; check the cost of foodstuff; go into massive agriculture; have a kind of self-sufficiency in the nation, then we will pay less attention to the quantum to hundreds and of millions and thousands,” Ajaero said.

Despite the anticipation among Nigerian workers for the announcement of a new minimum wage by the government, their expectations were not met as the tripartite committee is yet to finalize its work. However, the Federal Government has assured workers that whenever a new minimum wage is agreed upon, it will take effect from May 1, 2024.

Minister of State for Labour, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, conveyed this assurance on Wednesday during the May Day celebration in Abuja. She acknowledged the delay in finalizing the new national minimum wage but assured workers that extensive consultations are ongoing to expedite the process.

In response, organized labor has given the Federal Government until May 31 to come up with a realistic and reasonable new minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

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