By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Governors of the 36 states of the federation Thursday said though they were not opposed to the ongoing plans to approve a new minimum wage, they lacked the capacity to pay.
The governors under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum have however commenced moves to ensure that all salary arrears owed by states were cleared.
At its meeting Wednesday night in Abuja, the governors met with the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, to seek ways of getting debtor states to offset arrears of workers’ salaries using the funds from the outstanding Paris Club refund.
The Chairman of the NGF and Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, said the governors were in support of negotiating a new minimum wage but that the issue was the ability or resources to take care of the new minimum wage.
“We made it very clear that we are not against any upward review of salaries. We are in tandem with the NLC to get minimum wage reviewed. But the problem of the states is the capacity to pay what is agreed. As we talking today, we are struggling with N18,000,” he said.
Yari said as at today some of the states were paying 35 percent up, some 50 percent and some states had huge salary arrears.
“So if we are going review it up, it is not about only reviewing it but how are we going to get the resources to cater for it?” he said.
Meanwhile, NLC has said that the organised labour remained resolute in its quest for a new minimum wage.
Wabba who spoke to journalists regarding the position of the governors said that the approval of new minimum wage was long over due, adding that the harsh economy have affected the purchasing power of the Nigerian workers.
Wabba said: “Our position has remained consistent that with the challenges in the economy, especially the virtual erosion of the purchasing power Nigerian workers occasioned by many factors, the 18000 minimum wage by law is also supposed to be reviewed as far back as 2016.”
The tripartite committee negotiating a new minimum wage regime has almost concluded its assignment but for the inability of the stakeholders to agree on a definite figure for the wage rise.
Amounts ranging from N20,000, N24,000 and N30,000 have been proposed by States, Federal Government and Labour respectively.
More details later ….