Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The governors of the 36 states of the federation on the platform of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), have said that while there are no plans to backtrack on the N30,000 minimum wage, the consequential impact on the upper cadre must be renegotiated.
The NGF Chairman and governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, told journalists this at the end of the last NGF meeting for the year that ended at almost midnight on Wednesday.
He said while some states can even afford to pay N50,000, his colleagues have been engaging with the respective branches of the Nigerian Labour Congress to meet up with the December 31 minimum wage implementation deadline.
Fayemi, said that even the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is aware of the level of preparedness of states to pay, adding the governors were willing to make available to the union each state’s status of negotiation to clear any doubt.
The federal government and labour on October 18 announced an agreement on the implementation of the new wage.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) at its meeting in October presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo approved the agreement and set dates for the take-off of the new wage and payment of the arrears.
FEC also directed that the payment of the new salary structure should take effect from April 18 and the arrears cleared by December 31.
Fayemi while responding to a question on whether the governors had back tracked on negotiations said: “Minimum wage was not on our agenda because it is a settled matter and governors have all indicated without any equivocation that we subscribed to the Act of parliament that has been passed on the national minimum wage of N30,000. There is no debate we have accepted that.
“The negotiation thing you are talking is about the consequential impact of the minimum wage on the higher level. Each state has started that process, if the Nigeria Labour Congress is not fully aware of the status of the negotiation in the various states, we will be happy to share the information available to us with them. But as far as we are concern, there is no decision from the Governors Forum to back track, we are not backtracking on the minimum wage. However, fingers are not equal, states have to renegotiate in terms of the consequential implication for the others. Some states maybe in the position to pay N50,000, what we can tell you is that no state will pay less than N30,000 when we finally get to that point.”
The NGF in October had said the agreement between the federal government and organised labour on consequential adjustments on the new minimum wage was not binding on state governments.
The agreement over consequential adjustments averted a strike that labour had threatened to call had the government further delayed the take-off of the new minimum wage.
Responding to the position of governors on federal government’s plans to $30 billion, the NGF chair said the governors would not want to come between the federal government and the National Assembly as the borrowing plan had nothing to do with them.
Fayemi said: “The borrowing plan is the federal government’s borrowing plan, it is not the federation’s borrowing plan. It is really a matter between the federal government and the National Assembly, it is not something we want to put ourselves in between, we don’t want to comment on that.”