By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The presidency Thursday in Abuja said President Muhammadu Buhari did not mention any figure while receiving the report of the Tripartite Committee of the National Minimum Wage Committee submitted to him by its Chairman, Ama Pepple, in the State House on Tuesday.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said reports that the president had reneged on his earlier acceptance of N30,000 minimum wage as recommended by the committee had been of concern to the presidency.
Adesina also described as unnecessary, the brewing controversy over the N30,000 minimum wage proposal as he recalled the president’s comment during the meeting, reiterating that until the report and recommendation of the committee are reviewed by the executive and legislative process on the new minimum wage concluded, nobody can attribute any claim to the president.
However, the statement added that the president would follow due process on the new minimum wage, insisting that the current controversy amounts to putting the cart before the horse.
He also accused members of the opposition of playing politics with the minimum wage, threatening that judgment awaits them at the forthcoming polls.
The statement read: “The Presidency is concerned over recurring reports alleging that President Muhammadu Buhari has reneged on earlier acceptance of the N30,000 recommended as the new National Minimum Wage by the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee.
“These reports are contrary to what transpired on Tuesday when the committee presented its Report to the President. Responding, President Buhari, while acknowledging the concerns raised by government on affordability and labour’s focus on meaningful increase, stated clearly in a speech, which was made available to the media: ‘In a way, both arguments are valid. I want to assure you all that we will immediately put in place the necessary machinery that will close out these open areas.
‘Our plan is to transmit an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for passage within the shortest possible time. I am fully committed to having a new National Minimum Wage Act in the very near future.
‘As the Executive Arm commences its review of your submission, we will continue to engage you all in closing any open areas presented in this report. I, therefore, would like to ask for your patience and understanding in the coming weeks.’
“From the above, and throughout the report-submission ceremony, the President never mentioned any figure. What he committed himself to was a new minimum wage, and only after the Report of the committee has been reviewed by the executive and legislative processes of government and an appropriate bill presented to him for assent.
“Until the proposed minimum wage has gone through the whole gamut of law-making, President Buhari, who is a stickler for due process, will not be caught in this unnecessary web of controversy, which amounts to putting the cart before the horse and hair-splitting.
“As for those who have latched onto the concocted controversy to play cheap politics, we appeal to them to remember that elections are not won through loquaciousness, and trying to demean the President at every drop of a hat. But then, it is not surprising, as they have nothing else to sell to Nigerians, if they don’t ride on the name of the President. Stiff judgment awaits them at the polls.”