Buhari: Upward Review of National Minimum Wage Not Debatable

  • Rewane heads presidential advisory committee on funding
By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday in Abuja said imminent upward review of the national minimum wage was not debatable.
The president made this remark in the State House while inaugurating a Technical Advisory Committee on National Minimum Wage before the take off of the first Federal Executive Council (FEC) in 2019.
According to him, even though the minimum wage is on exclusive legislative list, governors are being carried along in view of the current prevalent economic challenges.
He said since the provisions for the payment of the new minimum wage had already been made in the 2019 budget, funding the increase would not be difficult.
However, the president said the new minimum wage would not be automatic for every federal government worker, pointing out that instead, salaries of civil servants already earning above the national minimum wage would be reviewed downward.
Those expected to be affected by this downward review are the staff of Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), among others, who earn humongous salaries.
“I want to make it clear that there is no question about whether the National Minimum Wage will be reviewed upwards. I am committed to a review of the Minimum Wage.
“Also, it is important to explain that even though the subject of a National Minimum Wage is in the Exclusive Legislative List, we have been meeting with the State Governors because it is imperative that the Federal Government carries the State Governments along in determining any upward review of the minimum wage for workers.
“This is especially necessary considering the prevailing public sector revenue challenges, which have made it extremely difficult for some of the governments to pay workers as and when due.
“As you know we, at the Federal level, have made adequate provision for the increase in the Minimum Wage in our 2019 Budget proposals which we submitted to the National Assembly.
“Therefore, we will be able to meet the additional costs that will be incurred in moving up all personnel who are currently earning below the new minimum wage.
“However, we anticipate that after the new minimum wage has been passed into law we will be going into negotiations for salary review for all the workers who are already earning above the new minimum wage. It is therefore important that we are properly prepared to meet these demands,” he said.
The president added that the national minimum wage must be  done in a way that it will have no adverse effects on the targets set by the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
According to him, it was against that background that the constitution of a technical committee to advise the government about the funding of additional wage bill ahead of implementation had become imperative.
The committee’s terms of reference as listed by Buhari were:
“To develop, and advise government on how to successfully bring about a smooth implementation of impending wage increases;
“Identify new revenue sources, as well as areas of existing expenditure from where some savings could be made in order to fund the wage increases without adversely impacting the nation’s development goals as set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan;
“Propose a work plan and modalities for the implementation of the salary increases;
“Any other suggestions that will assist in the implementation of this, and future wage increases.”
The president said given the urgency of the national minimum wage matter, the committee has one month to conclude its assignment and  submit its recommendations.
The committee is chaired by notable economist, Bismarck Rewane.