Economic Crunch May Affect Demand for New Minimum Wage, Says Oyegun

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Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has said the dire economic situation which the country is present grappling with will no doubt be a determining factor in the clamour for increase in wage by the labour movement.

He also said any demand for new minimum wage should be in line with the abilities of the federal and state governments to pay which would seek to meet with reasonable demand of workers for improved conditions of service.

Oyegun, who spoke with journalists in his office at the national secretariat of the APC, used the opportunity to pay tribute to the late Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa, describing him “as a consummate manager of men” during his days at the federal civil service, where he made his mark.

Speaking on the party’s position on the demand by the labour union for an increment  in the minimum wage, Oyegun cautioned that any such considerations must be based on the economic realities on ground and the ability of government to pay.

It is a matter for the economy and the executive at federal and state levels who will have to consider the demand in line with their  abilities to pay and of course in line with reasonable demands of workers for improved conditions of service. This wages increments must be based with the economic realities on ground, that’s, the ability to pay.

“It shouldn’t be a federal matter, state should be allowed to make their decisions based on their abilities to pay. The cost of living  is not the same in every part of the country. One state has made a decision and this will tell other states to talk to their workers and let them see their ability to pay and then decide accordingly. The federal government should decide based on the reality on ground and make a decision too,” he said.

On the delay in the federal board appointments by the APC government, the ruling party chairman, blamed it on the fall-out of merger of ministries which was intended to save scarce resources.

“I can say the merger of ministries brought a lot of questions as to whether federal boards will not also be merged. These processes are being looked into and I can assure you that sooner than later, the announcement (for the appointments of federal board members) will start soon,” he said.

Oyegun also commented on the assassination attempt on the life of the Deputy Governor of Edo State, describing the incident as absurd and unacceptable.

He warned that the party leadership would not condone rascality, adding that the national headquarters of the party would ensure free, fair and transparent primaries for the selection of its governorship candidate in the state.

“What happened in one of the local government areas of the state is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated, it is our hope that the police will get to the bottom of the matter and make sure that the offenders are brought to book. Of course, the bottom line is that whatever is happening there, the National Headquarters of the party will ensure free, fair and transparent primaries,” he said.