Nigerian governors have announced that states can only afford to raise the national minimum wage from N18, 000 to N22,500 as against the N30,000 being demanded by organised labor.
The governors said this after an emergency meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum in Abuja late on Tuesday.
This was even as the Nigeria Labor Congress and Trade Union Congress held nationwide peaceful protests to sensitise Nigerians to the planned national strike scheduled to begin on November 6.
The two unions are demanding N30,000 as the national minimum wage.
The Federal Government had earlier offered to pay N24, 000 as minimum wage.
Labour had declared that it would order workers to go on strike from November 6, 2018, if government refused to take a decisive action on its demand.
However, the threat of the workers was believed to have forced the governors to convene an emergency meeting.
Tuesday’s meeting of the NGF was attended by the Ministers of Labour and Productivity and that of National Planning, Senator Chris Ngige, and Senator Udoma Udoma, respectively.
Chairman of the NGF, who is also the Governor of Zamfara State, Mr Abdulaziz Yari, who briefed journalists after the meeting, said the welfare of all Nigerians was uppermost in the minds of the governors.
He said, “Following a meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum where we deliberated on the National Minimum Wage after a briefing from our representatives at the Tripartite Committee, we submit as follows: “The welfare of all Nigerians is our ultimate concern. In all our states, we are concerned about the deteriorating economic situation experienced by the vulnerable segment of our population.
“In agreeing to a national minimum wage, however, the Forum is even more concerned about development, particularly in the health, education and infrastructure spheres.
“It is therefore our considered position that since the percentage of salaried workers is not more than five per cent of the total working population, our position must not just reflect a figure, but also a sustainable strategy based on ability and capacity to pay, as well as reflective of all our developmental needs in each state.”
He added, “After all, Section 3 of the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission Act provides that ‘the Commission shall recommend a proposition of income growth which should be initiated for wage increase and also examine the salary structure in public and private sectors with reasonable features of relativity and maximum levels which are in consonance with the national economy.’
“It is in this sense that we feel strongly that our acceptable minimum wage must be done in such a way that total personnel cost does not exceed 50 per cent of the revenue available to each state.
“Governors, therefore, agreed to pay a national minimum wage of N22,500.”
Among those present at the meeting were the governors of Osun, Zamfara, Ondo, Ogun, Ebonyi, Lagos, Imo, Kebbi, Ekiti, Edo, Nasarawa (Deputy) and Plateau.
Earlier, the NLC and the TUC took to major streets in some cities across Nigeria to sensitize the public to its planned nationwide strike scheduled to commence on November 6.
Workers under the umbrella of the two labour unions and their affiliates took to the streets in protest against alleged government’s deliberate delay tactics over the payment of N30,000 national minimum wage.
In Ogun State, members of the two trade unions took to major streets in Abeokuta, the state capital, to draw public attention to the planned action.
The early morning rally which took off from the state secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Oke Ilewo, Abeokuta saw them moving through Pansheke, Omida, Ibara and other major streets in the state capital.
In Ekiti State, members of the two unions also trooped to the streets in response to a directive by their national bodies over the issue.
The peaceful protest was coordinated by the National Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Solomon Adelegan; Ekiti NLC Chairman, Ade Adesanmi, his colleague in the Trade Union Congress, Odunayo Adesoye, and the Secretary of the Joint Negotiating Council, Mr Blessing Oladele.
In Imo, workers also took to the streets of Owerri as part of efforts to compel government to agree to better working conditions and a pay rise.
The peaceful protest led to major traffic gridlock along the new Owerri area in the state capital.
A similar protest was held in Asaba, the Delta State capital. The Chairman of NLC in the state, Jonathan Jemiriyigbe, condemned the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, for allegedly misrepresenting the resolution of the tripartite committee on minimum wage.
In Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, workers also trooped to the streets to make the same demand.
The Taraba State Chairman of the NLC, Peter Gambo, who led the workers to the streets in Jalingo, said Nigeria remained the only country with the least paid minimum wage in Africa.
Gambo said, “We analysed the wages of most of African countries and discovered that Nigeria is the least paid in Africa. Nigeria being the giant of Africa should not be lagging behind.”
The Rivers State chapter of the NLC threatened that labour would shut down the country if their demand for the N30,000 minimum wage was not met.