Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja, and John Adams, Minna
Oyo State governor-elect, Seyi Makinde, has said states are coordinates and not subordinates to the Federal Government.
As a result of this, they ought to have been allowed to negotiate the minimum wage according to their abilities.
He said conditions of living varies from state to state, adding that he was prepared to negotiate with the state branch of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on the new National Minimum Wage of N30,000
The Senate had on March 19th passed the bill, approving N30,000 as the new national minimum wage, while President Muhammadu Buhari on April 18th signed the bill into law.
The House of Representatives had earlier passed the minimum wage bill before the National Assembly shut down its operations to enable lawmakers to participate in the last general election.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, who said the implementation was with immediate effect added that it is for all workers across the federation with exception of organisations with less than 25 staff.
“This makes it compulsory for all employers of labour in Nigeria to pay to their workers the sum of N30,000. This excludes persons who are employing less than 25 workers, persons who work in a ship which sails out of jurisdiction and other persons who are in other kinds of regulated employment which are accepted by the Act.
Makinde, who addressed journalists at the end of the induction for returning and newly-elected governors, organised by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), said the federal government should not impose a national minimum wage on states since Nigeria is a Federation.
This he said was responsible for persistent calls by concerned Nigerians about the need for the country to be restructured.
Asked to assess Oyo’s ability to pay the new wage, the governor-elect said: “It has been signed into law. I personally believe that individual states should have been allowed to negotiate this because conditions of living in Lagos are obviously not the same as living in Ibadan.
“I will definitely say without fear or favour that it’s part of the reasons why we are thinking restructuring. That’s a federal system of government.
“We have a federation but the state governments I believe, are no subordinate to the federal government. They are coordinate governments.”
“Then, when the Federal Government makes a law that says we are going to pay 30,000 as minimum wage,’ what’s the condition in my state? Can we support it? I don’t think…
“We are going to engage the Nigeria Labour Congress in my state and we see how we go from there.”
Meanwhile, the Niger State governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, has given the state ministry of finance 24 hours to refund to the state civil servants, the amount wrongly deducted from their salaries, running to hundreds of millions of naira.
The state civil servants raised the alarm over what they described as arbitrary deduction from their salaries in the months of March and April this year and had equally sent Save-Our-Soul request to the governor for his intervention.
Bello, while addressing the civil servants on the occasion of May Day celebration in Minna yesterday, described the development as “very unfortunate”.
He denied the knowledge of the deduction and, therefore, directed the ministry of finance to immediately rectify the anomalies “and let all the affected civil servants get their money within the next 24 hours”.
The governor alleged sharp practices among some staff of the ministry of finance who he said were in the habits of paying themselves salaries of four to five civil servants.
He warned that nobody could safe those behind the act from being dealt with if they are found wanting.
“This is the highest level of corruption in the civil service which can not be tolerated anymore”, stressing that all those in habit must repent.
“I will not spare anybody even if you bring all the emir in Niger State to my house, it will not save you. Redeem yourself and your sins will be forgiven”.
The governor, therefore, reassured the workers of his earlier promise of the payment of N30,000 minimum wage recently signed into law by the Federal Government.
He, nevertheless, advised the civil servants to be polite while asking for their entitlements so that it can be considered.