Minimum Wage Is A Constitutional Matter – Ngige

Minimum WageThe 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.

Governors’ Proposal

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.

Angry Reactions

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.

Governors Who Cannot Pay N18,000 Minimum Wage Should Resign – Aremu

Minimum wageFormer Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu, has 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.

Presenting a paper titled, “Government Patronage of Made-In-Nigeria Products, A Panacea For Industrial Growth and Development”, Aremu noted that one of the ways Nigerians would judge the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari and all the 36 state governors, would be their ability to resuscitate the collapsed industries in the country and create more jobs.

He expressed worry that the nation might be in for more trouble if the alarming rate of unemployment is not properly addressed.

The former NLC Vice President also identified lack of road infrastructure as one of the factors that led to the collapse of the industries.

He appealed to the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, to do his best possible, to reinvent the nation’s roads.

NLC To Resist Removal Of Labour Matters From Exclusive Legislative List

Leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has stated that it will resist moves by the Senate to remove minimum wage and other labour matters from the exclusive legislative list, saying such move is not in the interest of workers and ordinary people.

The Senate committee on the amendment of the 1999 constitution chaired by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, is reportedly planning to move minimum wage to the concurrent list in its review of the 1999 constitution.

At a forum organised to mark the 95th birthday of Nelson Mandela in Kaduna, NLC Vice-President, Issa Aremu told journalists that the move by the Senate to remove labour from the exclusive list will compound so many problems in the country, including leaving workers at the mercy of state governors, adding that the union will resist the move, even if it means marching on the streets again.

As part of efforts to resist the move, the labour leader called on the House of Representatives not to support the debate on the grounds that such a plan is not in the best interest of Nigerian workers and ordinary people.

Aremu in his speech, called on Nigerian political leaders to emulate the leadership qualities of Mandela by delivering good governance to the people and shunning politics of bitterness.

While attributing the current political crisis in Rivers state, Boko Haram insurgency in the north and high unemployment rate in the country to failure of good leadership, Aremu noted that such conflicts can be tackled only when leaders are sincere and sensitive to the plights of those they govern.

NLC therefore called on the senate to use the occasion of Mandela’s birthday to reverse the decision and be on the side of reason and justice by ensuring that all labour matters remained on the exclusive list, in the interest of industrial peace, harmony and national security.

If this report is accepted by the House of Representatives and the required numbers of concurring votes by states’ house of assembly are secured, it means the federal government and state governments will be able to separately fix intra state wages with no  fresh agitations to worry about.