President Muhammadu Buhari says he has been working hard to ensure that the nation gets a new National Minimum Wage Act as soon as possible.
He stated this on Tuesday while receiving the report of the Tripartite Committee on Review of National Minimum Wage at the State House in Abuja.
“I am fully committed to having a new National Minimum Wage Act in the very near future,” said the President who explained the rationale behind the decision to set up the committee.
“On November 27, 2017, I inaugurated the National Minimum Wage Committee with a mandate to recommend a new minimum wage for the workers of our country.”
President Buhari explained further, “This exercise became necessary for many reasons. The last review took place in 2011. We all know since then the prices of key consumables have increased and the most vulnerable of our workers are struggling to make ends meet.
“Since 2011, many changes have taken place. Nigeria rebased its GDP to become the largest economy in Africa. We reported very strong GDP growth rates and exceptional performance of our capital markets. However, these reported successes did not flow into the pockets and homes of majority of Nigerians.”
The President said his administration has focused on correcting the deficiency in the last three years, noting that they are working to create a diversified and inclusive economy.
According to him, the government is pushing to clear pension arrears owed to retired workers with the limited resources available to it.
In a bid to ensure workers are well taken care of, President Buhari said his administration supported state governments to pay salaries and set up a committee to review the minimum wage of workers.
“In constituting this committee, we took into account the need for all stakeholders to be adequately represented – the government, the private sector and most importantly the workers. Our goal was to get an outcome that was consensual,” he revealed.
“From the onset, we knew the committee had a difficult task ahead of it. But at the same time, we were also confident that the patriotic and professional background of its members would produce realistic, fair and implementable recommendations that will be considered by both the executive and legislative arms of government.”
The President said he was not surprised that the committee has worked for close to one year and that the debates got heated on a few occasions.
He was delighted that in almost all instances of disagreements, the committee members still came back to the negotiating table with a common goal of improving the welfare of workers.
President Buhari commended the members of the committee for their commitment and sacrifice in getting the nation to its present state.
Having received regular updates on their deliberations in the past few days, he said he was pleased that they were able to complete the task in a peaceful and non-confrontational manner.
“The entire nation is grateful to you all,” he said. “The Committee Chairman highlighted some of the challenges encountered during your deliberations, especially as it relates to having a consensus position acceptable by all parties.”
He added, “I understand, on the government side, the concerns raised were around affordability – that today many states struggle to meet their existing salary requirements. On the side of labour, the points raised focused on the need for any increase to be meaningful.”
The President stressed that both arguments were valid and assured the committee that necessary measures would be put in place immediately to transmit the Executive Bill to the National Assembly for passage within the shortest possible time.
He also thanked the leadership of the organised labour and private sector, as well as representatives of state and federal governments for their hard work.
President Buhari, however, asked the labour leaders to show patience and understanding with the government while the report of the committee is being reviewed.
He also implored workers and their leaders not to allow themselves to be used as political weapons.