- Private sector accepts N27,000
- ‘How we’re living on N18,000’
The Organised Labour will hold an emergency National Executive Council meeting today to take a position on Tuesday’s approval of N27,000 as minimum wage by the Council of State.
This is even as the two chambers of the National Assembly passed for second reading the bill transmitted to them by President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday.
Buhari, in the letter forwarding the bill, said the Federal Government was proposing N27,000 as the new national minimum wage against the N18,000 that currently obtains. “This new Bill and the amendments contained therein were arrived at after consultations by the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage which was constituted by me in November, 2017, to consider, make recommendations, and advise the Government on this.
“The Tripartite Committee comprised representatives of the Federal Government, Governors’ Forum, Organised Private Sector, and the Organised Federations of Trade Unions in Nigeria.
“The Federal Executive Council, National Economic Council, and the National Council of States have all noted and approved these recommended amendments. Other highlights of the amendments include: i. Exemptions for Establishments employing less than 25 persons; ii. Five (5) years review period of the Act in consonance with the Constitutional review period of Pensions; iii. Alterations in the amount of fines payable by defaulters on prosecution,” the president said in his letter, dated January 22, and urged the lawmakers to expedite action on the bill.
Senate raises panel as senators differ
Already the Senate, Presided over by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, has raised an 8-member ad hoc panel to work on the bill.
The panel is headed by the Senate Chief Whip Sola Adeyeye (APC, Osun), with Sen Abu Ibrahim (APC, Katsina) being the chairman of the Senate Committee on Labour as a member.
Other members representing the six geopolitical zones are Shehu Sani (PRP, Kaduna, N/West), Sam Egwu (PDP, Ebonyi, S/East); Suleiman Adokwe (PDP, Nasarawa, N/Central), Francis Alimekhena (APC, Edo, S/South); Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos, S/West), and Binta Masi Garba (APC, Adamawa, N/East).
The panel has two weeks to conclude its assignment and report back to the Senate.
After reading the president’s letter by Ekweremadu, Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe), had sought the leave of the Senate to suspend Order 79 of the Senate Rules, which provides that a bill can come for first, second and third readings at different times.
The senators acceded to the request, after which the bill was read the first time. Lawan, who led the debate for the second reading, said an increase from N18,000 to N27,000 was a major increase.
“It may not be what the civil servants desired and wanted, but it would certainly help,” he said.
A total of 11 senators, who spoke during the debate, all supported the passage of the bill.
Most of the senators said the N27,000 proposed was small, while others expressed fears that some state governments might not be able to pay.
Sen Shehu Sani said he would advocate that the minimum wage be made N30,000, adding that though it may not be enough for the workers, it would boost their productivity.
Minority Leader Biodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti), said let the minimum wage issue not be a “gimmick,” noting that ”We must be sincere. Most of the state governments won’t be able to pay the N27,000. The only way to is to sit down with the state governments on this.”
Sen Emmanuel Paulker (PDP, Bayelsa) said the new minimum wage should be implemented at the same time with new pension, while Sen Sam Anyanwu (PDP, Imo) said the National Assembly should jerk up the amount to N30,000.
Similarly, Sen Suleiman Adokwe (PDP, Nasarawa), said states’ wage bills would be large if a 50 percent increase was done on salaries of other higher civil servants, urging that the same N9,000 should be added to their pay.
Senators Barnabas Gemade (SDP, Benue) and Umaru Kurfi (APC, Katsina) noted that all state governments could pay N30,000 as minimum wage if they so desire as they have all the resources.
The bill was consequently passed for second reading.
Our correspondent reports that although the national minimum wage would be N27,000, the federal government is offering to pay N30,000.
Ekweremadu also picked holes in the aspect that says organisations that employ less than 25 people would not fall under the minimum wage, saying “I pray that doesn’t scale through.”
Reps set up ad hoc committee also
Daily Trust reports that the House of Representatives has also set up a 12-man ad hoc committee to review the Minimum Wage Bill.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, announced this yesterday following the unanimous adoption of the bill by the lawmakers for first and second reading.
The 12-man ad hoc committee, chaired by Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun (APC, Osun), would hold a public hearing on the bill on Monday, January 28 and submit its report on Tuesday, January 29, for further legislative action.
The Speaker promised that the committee would meet all relevant stakeholders, to pave way for the passage of the bill next week.
Debating the bill, the lawmakers said the increment was still meagre given high inflation and cost of living in Nigeria.
They further requested that the minimum wage be periodically reviewed on termly basis, to accommodate the prevailing economic reality and reduce corrupt tendencies among civil servants.
We’ll make our position known today – NLC
Daily Trust contacted the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) General Secretary, Dr Peter Ozo-Ezon, yester night to give an insight on the Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting of the congress holding today, he simply replied, “ we will make our position known after the CWC.”
Meanwhile, pressure is being mounted on the labour leaders to accept the N27,000 proposed by government.
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), Edo chapter, the Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria (MMWG) and many others have all appealed to the labour unions to accept the N27,000 endorsed by the Council of State.
The Registrar of the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, has advised leadership of organised labour to accept the Federal Government’s N27,000 minimum wage offer.
Ajiboye, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), commended the Federal Government for offering its workers N30,000 minimum wage.
He also called on the National Assembly to expedite action on the passage of the bill.