Minimum wage: Labour reacts as FG denies approving N30, 000
Dr Chris Ngige, Labour Minister
The Federal Government said on Wednesday that it had not approved the N30, 000 minimum wage proposal contained in the report of the tripartite committee set up by it.
It noted that it was still a recommendation being considered according to Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who spoke with State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari would still study the report presented to him on Tuesday by the Chairman of the committee, Amal Pepple, before taking a decision on it.
Pepple had while presenting the report on Tuesday disclosed that the committee recommended that the national minimum wage be increased from N18, 000 monthly to N30, 000.
She also said her committee drafted a bill that the Federal Government would send to the National Assembly to give a legal backing to it.
His position contradicts earlier media reports that Buhari had accepted the report and endorsed the recommendation of N30, 000 as the new minimum wage.
Mohammed, however, said Buhari would only take a decision and make his view known after considering the report.
“I think it (N30,000) was a recommendation. Mr President will consider it and will make his views known in due course,” the minister said.
When pressed further, Mohammed said, “I said a recommendation was submitted. Mr President will get back to the committee after he has studied the recommendation.”
On whether the revenue-sharing formula would be reviewed if the new minimum wage was approved to enable the states to pay, the minister said, “Once again, like I said, a recommendation has been made and in responding to the recommendation, all these views will be taken into consideration.”
“The committee’s report will still be presented before the National Economic Council and the Council of State before a decision will be made.
Once a decision is taken, the Federal Government will send an Executive Bill to the National Assembly.”
Meanwhile, Organised Labour has threatened to go on strike if the Federal Government fails to approve and implement the N30,000 minimum wage recommended by the tripartite committee.
The General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress, Mr Musa Lawal, said this while reacting to comments by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, that the report of the tripartite committee was a mere recommendation.
Lawal said Organised Labour decided to shelve its planned strike because the government had expressed the willingness to accept the report of the tripartite committee.
He warned that anything short of the full implementation of the report would be met with stiff opposition.
The TUC general secretary said, “They can say anything they want to say. Why were they panicky before? Why did they agree to the N30, 000? They can call it a mere recommendation or whatever they want to call it but the important thing is that at the end of the day, if we do not get the N30,000, they know what we will do.”
Attempts to speak with the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, proved abortive as he did not respond to telephone calls on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has said President Muhammadu Buhari and his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) are feeding at public expense.
The former vice-president also said the two leaders collect hardship allowances of 50 per cent of their annual basic salary.
He lamented that long-suffering Nigerian workers, who he said were the main sufferers of the hardship caused by the incompetence of the present administration, did not have any hardship allowance and are expected to live on unrealistic minimum wage.
Atiku’s remarks were contained in a statement issued by his Media Campaign Organisation in Abuja on Wednesday.
Atiku spoke in reaction to a statement issued by the Presidency on Wednesday denying reports that President Buhari had accepted a new minimum wage of 30,000 proposed by the tripartite committee.
It alleged that approbation and reprobation “is characteristic of the Buhari administration and that it is evidence of lack of leadership at the very top that is putting our economy in peril.”
The statement read in part, “Just two weeks ago, two of the world’s largest banks, HSBC and UBS, pulled out of Nigeria citing lack of policy stability as their reason.
“This same reason was given by Procter and Gamble when they pulled out last year. In the span of the three years that this administration has been in office, more than 500 companies have pulled out of Nigeria for similar reasons. Nigeria under President Buhari has become synonymous with policy flip flopping.
“A government is only as reliable as its word and if its word is not reliable then nothing else about the government will be stable. This is why Nigeria suffered from a recession under this administration and it’s right now at risk of another recession.
It added, “At the risk of repeating ourselves, we urge the Buhari administration to note that Nigerian workers are the goose that lays the golden egg that top members of this government are enjoying to the detriment of those laying the egg.
“We are aware that both President Buhari and Vice-President Osinbajo, despite living and feeding at the public expense, collect a hardship allowance of 50 per cent of their annual basic salaries, whereas, the long-suffering Nigerian workers, who are the main sufferers of the hardship caused by the incompetence of this administration, do not have any hardship allowance and are expected to live on the unlivable minimum wage of the Buhari government.”
The statement said the actions of the President and his deputy were a testament to how badly the country had treated its workforce over the last three years.
It said it was during same period that Nigeria was officially declared the world headquarters for extreme poverty by the World Poverty Clock and the World Economic Forum.
“We can only change this by paying our workers a living wage as opposed to the starvation wages now paid to them by the Buhari administration,” the statement added.
The Atiku campaign office called on the President to keep faith with the agreement, which he said his government freely reached with labour and affirm the new minimum wage.