The Senate and the House of Representatives have commenced debate on the National Minimum Wage Bill at both chambers of the National Assembly.
Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over Thursday’s plenary at the upper chamber read a letter from President Buhari on the National Minimum Wage Bill.
In the letter read to the lawmakers, President Buhari proposed a minimum wage of N27,000 for workers.
Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, moved for expeditious passage of the bill because of its importance.
He asked the Senate to suspend its rules and pass the bill through first and second reading immediately.
“Let me congratulate the Federal Government, the 36 states of Nigeria and stakeholders on this Bill for the increase of the minimum wage from N18,000 to N27,000,” Senator Lawan said.
“Our Civil Servants will be excited about this. It may not be all they hoped, but it is still an improved situation. Nigeria cannot develop without the help of our civil servants.”
The Senate agreed to his request and the minimum wage bill was debated in the chamber.
In his contribution, Senator Shehu Sani noted that although it may not be enough, it was important for the lawmakers to lend their voice to see to the realisation of the bill.
He was hopeful that productivity would definitely increase while Senator Biodun Olujimi advises the lawmakers to work hard and not used the bill for “another election gimmick”.
“Let the people who should get paid actually get paid,” he said.
Another lawmaker, Senator Barau Jibrin, said it was important to improve the current minimum wage, stressing that there was no way the nation can develop without the contribution of its workers.
After much deliberations on the bill, Senator Ekweremadu commended the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) for its effort and the senator for the speedy consideration of the bill.
“This will be the first time the eighth Senate is reading an Executive Communication and suspending our rules to take a First and Second Reading and assigning the Bill to a Committee, all in one day. This shows how committed we are,” he said.
The Deputy Senate President added, “We will constitute an ad-hoc committee which will interface with the relevant stakeholders and provide a comprehensive report.
“I believe what we have been saying so far will suffice in guiding the Committee. Just to clarify, the new minimum wage brought to us is set at N27,000.
“There were news reports of N27,000 for states and N5,000 for the Federal Government, but this is a single national minimum wage of N27,000. Another issue of concern is whether this affects organisations and establishments employing less than 25 persons.”
He was, however, hopeful that the issue of those left out of the minimum wage would be addressed by the ad-hoc committee chaired by Senator Olusola Adeyeye.
Others in the committee are senators Abu Ibrahim, Shehu Sani, Sam Egwu, Suleiman Adokwe, Francis Alimikhena, and Binta Garba.
The committee was asked to report to the Senate within two weeks.
Meanwhile, lawmakers at the lower chamber have also debated on the bill.