Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
Against the reports that the stipends of the members of the National Youth Services Corps (NYSC) has been increased to N49, 800, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) said it has not received any proposal for the said increment.
Also the hope of Nigerian workers for a new minimum wage this year might as well have been dashed as the processes to achieving a new national minimum wage was still at the nursery stage.
Confirming this to newsmen, in Obosi, Idemili Local Government Area of Anambra State, Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, said the reports in the dailies and online news about the increase in NYSC stipends was not true as the FEC has not received any recommendation to that effect.
Ngige said the issue of increase in NYSC stipend could even be possible when the new minimum wage has not been decided as the coppers stipend was always in the same sliding scale with the national minimum wage but with a top-up.
His words, “What I said is that we’ve not concluded because no recommendation has come to the Federal Executive Council.
“As a matter of fact, some ministries, Youth and Sports, myself, Women Affairs and Budget and Planning have been asked to make our input, and the allowances of the NYSC persons like I explained is on sliding scale. The same sliding scale with the national minimum wage except that it is a top up, what is called top up on the national minimum wage to make for special transport allowance for members of the NYSC.
“That is why today the national minimum wage is N18, 000, and the top up for NYSC members is about N1, 500 making it N19, 500.
“This is the allowance the Federal government will give to them, areas or persons and bodies, agencies where they do their primary assignments can also give them what they call special allowances and that is irrespective of this monthly stipend from federal government.
“Their employers, primary assignment can and they have been doing so, they give them another top-up so that in some establishments you see them paying extra N10, 000 to the NYSC persons some are as generous as even giving N20, 000 about the same thing that they earn.
“For now there is no figure before us and as a matter of facts the last Federal Executive Council had mandated the Ministers of Youths to liaise with the Director General of the NYSC so that he can be brought on board for us to work as a team.”
On the new national minimum wage, the Minister said it still has a long way to go as many bodies that needed to contribute to it has not done so but assured that work was in progress on the issue.
For example, he said the tripartite committee handling the issue and which planned to conclude by this month end could not because they have note fine-tuned it, adding that even the Governors Forum which is a critical constituent of the discussion was yet to come up with its own figure.
Ngige continued, “It is a tripartite committee, a tripartite committee plus as the ILO will call it because we have some people who are not from organised labour in it and luckily I am a member of the committee.
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“I’m deputy-chairing it so to say, I drive it, we have a timetable that we will finish everything about it this end of August, but it is not attainable anymore because even in the committee we have not all finished dotting of the eyes and agreeing on a figure.
“We couldn’t agree on a figure because of two reasons, partly the state governors have not come up with a figure and the state governors are a critical constituent of this discussion. They have six governors in the committee, one from each geo-political zone.
“So the Governors Forum has not come up with their figure they said they are still working on it that was the last submission they made to us. And the Federal Government team, we are working through the economic management team, the economic management team dictates the economy of the country and they will now take whatever the governors say and fine-tune with that of the Federal Government, so that is where we are.”
As to when exactly Nigerians would expect the new minimum wage, the Minister who said as a realist, he who would not want to give the people false hope stated that even when the committee finishes its work and report to the FEC it would be sent to the National Assembly through the Attorney General and the National Assembly would do its work on it including public hearing because the importance of such bill, hence he could not give exact time it would be ready.
He said, “The national minimum wage tripartite committee is still at work and is until that body brings out its figures, brings out its recommendation appertaining to national minimum wage, is only after that, that a bill can be sent to the National Assembly for them to process and send to Mr. President for it to become a National Minimum Wage Act. If it happens in 2018, it becomes Act 2018.”