Osinbajo, Others Hold Special Meeting on Minimum Wage

Yemi Osinbajo

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Tuesday presided over the Economic Management Team (EMT) meeting specifically dedicated to discuss issue of minimum wage and how to raise funds for its implementation.

The meeting which held at the Vice President Conference hall at the Presidential Villa had those directly involved in the economy and revenue generation in attendance.

Those in attendance were the Ministers of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige and Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu.

Others were Executive Chairman, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Richard Egbule, Director General, Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, and Comptroller General (CG) of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali.

Ngige had last week told State House correspondents that he and the chairman of the negotiation committee, Ms. Amma Pepple, a former Head of Service of the Federation, briefed President Muhammadu Buhari on the progress so far made by the committee and that the Special EMT meeting was to focus on minimum wage.

Pepple had hinted the committee will submit its report before the month end, adding however, that they need a definite figure from both the federal and state government to conclude its report.

Ngige had recently accused the organised labour of blackmailing the government following a two-week ultimatum given by the latter for the conclusion of negotiation on the matter.

According to him, the labour leaders were unnecessarily blackmailing and intimidating government to pass a new minimum wage that it may end up reneging on. Ngige blamed certain factors such as inability of governors to provide their figures to be debated by the committee negotiating the new minimum wage as one of the reasons for the delay, just as he assured that government was still within the timeframe it promised to deliver on a new minimum wage and was not stalling the process as alleged by labour.

According to Ngige, the organised private sector had initially prop Osinbajo and proposed a figure of N42,000 but later brought it down to N25,000, taking into account the current economic situation, ability to pay and ability to enhance and create new jobs.

The organised labour had in May 2016 demanded a pay rise on the current N18,000 national minimum wage to N56,000 and later raised to N65,500.

Buhari had in November 2017 inaugurated the National Minimum Wage Committee with a mandate of arriving at a new national minimum.

The federal government had assured workers during the 40th anniversary celebration of the NLC earlier in February that workers should expect a new national minimum wage by September.

But the organised labour had recently accused the federal government of not being sincere in coming up with new minimum wage and warned that labour should not be pushed to the wall.

The report of the new minimum wage was supposed to be ready by the end of August but the committee could not round off with its negotiation as a result of the Sallah holiday.