By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The National President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) Ayuba Wabba has said that the position canvassed by governors that the states can’t afford to pay N30,000 minimum wage is a distraction that won’t distract the entire workforce across the country.
Wabba insisted that the labour unions would focus on achieving the task and urged his members to be resolute to vote out any governor who defies the law after signing into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The governors, after the report proposing N30,000 minimum wage was submitted to President Buhari, had made their position known that many of the states lacked the financial wherewithal to pay such amount.
Responding to the governors’ recalcitrant position in Ado Ekiti on Saturday during the 75th birthday of the former Chairman of the Medical and Health Union of Nigeria (MHUN), Ekiti chapter Johnson Ogunseeyin, Wabba described the governors’ position as an afterthought.
The occasion was attended by all labour leaders in the state, led by the state’s NLC Chairman Ade Adesanmi and Blessing Oladele.
The NLC president stated that six governors were represented on the tripartite committee composed by the federal government to argue the issue of minimum wage and that it took the labour over a year to arrive at a midway wage of N30,000, adding that it was inhuman for the
governors to turn around and say they had no capacities to pay.
“I consider this governors’ position as a trick that was not new to us. There was no agitation about labour that never experienced such, but we consider it an afterthought.
“In case they didn’t know, labour started with a proposal of N66,000, so N30,000 was a midway approach to resolve the crisis. We didn’t just request for it, but we considered the high inflation rate, and the poor purchasing power of naira, among other variables.
“While we commend about six governors for saying they will pay N30,000 minimum wage, we challenge those saying they can’t pay to go to their states and tell workers and pensioners that they won’t pay.
“This agitation started last year November, even when the review was supposed to take place in 2016. The governors were asked to send memoranda and 21 states complied.
“They all had inputs. They even had six representatives on the negotiating committee. So I didn’t know what they were talking about after the report had been submitted.
“In case the governors didn’t know, the police, DSS and Nigeria Army that were providing security for them and the Nigerian populace are involved in this minimum wage issue. So, we consider their refusal to comply as a way to divert of our attentions.
“The governors may not care about workers because they are getting humongous security votes. Councillor who has no certificates receive more than a PhD holder. I want to believe this is a class contestation and we are up to the task.
“We want to tell the governors that we won’t succumb to their antics. We will receive nothing less than N30,000 minimum wage for our people and we have directed workers to vote out any state governor or his successor who says he is not ready to pay,” he said.
Wabba stated that the celebrant, Ogunseeyin, was one of the few patriots and unionists who fought for improved welfare for Nigerian workers.
The state Head of Service, Dr. Gbenga Faseluka, urged Nigerian workers to consider productivity as a watchword, saying this would help them in fighting for their rights when the need arises.