Minimum Wage Is A Constitutional Matter – Ngige
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige has said that the review of national minimum wage is a constitutional matter that cannot be achieved by mere protest or agitations without recourse to the National Assembly.
The Minister was reacting to recent remarks by some state governors and the organized labour movement on the need for a review of the nation’s minimum wage from 18,000 naira.
According to him, both those who clamour for the upward review of the minimum wage and those against it cannot change the situation unless there is another dialogue with the workers union and the National Assembly repeals the National Minimum Wage Act.
Some state governors have been complaining that they lack the resources to pay the current 18,000 minimum wage owing to dwindling resources and the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) had agreed to reduce the amount as a way out of the economic challenges in some states.
Governors from the 36 of Nigeria said that with the poor state of the economy, they can no longer pay the N18,000 minimum wage to workers.
The governors, after a meeting of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa in November announced that the dwindling prices of oil had drastically affected their states’ income.
The forum said that it has planned to hold a round-table meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari to find a solution to the economic situation confronting the country.
The governors’ proposal has generated angry reactions from many Nigerians who have kicked against NGF’s decision to reduce the 18,000 Naira minimum wage being paid to Nigerian workers.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has since intensified its call on the Federal Government to increase the minimum wage of Nigerian workers saying that Nigerian workers can no longer cope with 18,000 naira.
The President of the workers union, Mr Ayuba Waba, while speaking at a rally in Abuja, said that there is need for the government to diversify from the oil dependent economy, make electricity stable and create jobs for the unemployed , rather than proposing a reduction in wages.
A former Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu, also advised governors who are not willing to sustain the 18,000 Naira minimum wage for workers to resign from office.
Aremu, speaking at the 18th Joint Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), said that such governors have no reason to lead the people or remain in office.
The Ogun State Chairman of Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Yinka Folarin, also expressed displeasure with the development while speaking in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital in south-west Nigeria.
Mr Folarin described the attempt as ‘anti-people and a betrayal of the confidence reposed in the forum and its promoters’, saying it must be resisted by the populace.