Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Governors of the 36 states of the federation Thursday met to consider the lingering conflict over the N30,000 new minimum wage demand by the organised labour movement.
At the end of the meeting, the governors failed to make any head-way on the minimum wage debacle, hence their decision to go back to President Muhammadu Buhari to see if the matter can be resolved.
Addressing journalists, the Head, Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, said the governors have resolved to meet with President Buhari today (Friday) to iron out issues relating to the stalemated issue of new minimum wage.
Bello-Barkindo said: “It was a very short meeting, of course the very last one for the year. The meeting welcomed the newest governor in its midst, the Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola.
“The meeting resolved to meet the president on the issue of the minimum wage which hopefully will be resolved before the end of the year. The governors are also meeting the president tomorrow (today) to thank him for the way he has handle the economy.”
The meeting of governors was a prelude to today’s National Economic Council meeting which is expected among other issues to focus on how to resolve the minimum wage crisis and to avert the looming national strike by workers.
Although yesterday’s meeting of the governors was held behind closed door, THISDAY gathered that the few governors who attended it could not possibly take any new position on the new minimum wage.
About 12 governors attended the meeting that lasted for an hour.
The report of the tripartite negotiation committee set up by the federal government to help midwife a new minimum wage had recommended N30,000, but the state governors rejected and instead proposed N22,500 as what the states can pay.
The governors which came under the umbrella of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum expressed their handicap in meeting up with the expected increase in wage bill arising from the new minimum wage figure.
The governors also threatened to consider retrenchment of workers if the states are forced to accept the N30,000 as approved minimum wage.
However the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and organised labour has also vowed not to shift ground on matter.
The labour movement said workers would not succumb to any threat in their struggle to earn a decent wage.
The organised labour movement challenged governors in their various states to tell their workers why they could pay the minimum wage, adding that any who does that risks being voted out of office.
“To the oppressors, we have only one answer for you. We will never sleep on our rights. We hereby reiterate our directive to Nigerian workers to vote out any politician or political party that refuses to pay the new national minimum wage of N30, 000,” Labour said.