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Tinubu may announce new minimum wage on Workers’ Day


Indications have emerged that President Bola Tinubu may announce the new minimum wage on May 1 in commemoration of the International Labour Day and backdate its implementation to April.

IT was gathered that the National Minimum Wage Committee was working to ensure that all negotiations regarding the new rate were finalised before then with the expectation that the President would announce the new minimum wage in his Workers’ Day address.

A member of the committee, who spoke to Saturday PUNCH on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue, said, “By next week, the minimum wage committee will meet again. It’s a continuous meeting. That is a meeting where all the reports from the zonal public hearings will be collated and reported, and then, you know, that will also give the committee the direction to work with.

“Our target is to ensure that Mr President announces the minimum wage by the 1st of May, which is the Workers’ Day, for it to take effect from April. So, we are working to meet the timeline.”

When reminded that the current minimum wage of N30,000 would cease to be valid on March 31, the committee member said it was unlikely that the new rate would be ready before then, adding that there was still a long way to go in arriving at an acceptable minimum wage for the country.

The source stated, “We have not got to the negotiation point yet. When you finish with the zones, it is the aggregate of what you collect from the zones that will determine the direction of the main committee. Now that we have finished with the zones, when the committee meets, it will collate all the positions of the zones and committee members.

“The positions of the NLC, TUC, NECA (the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association) and the government will be looked at. Then, we will look at the aggregate, find a percentage, and arrive at what will be agreeable.

“We are going to make some adjustments. I am sure the committee will also have a private meeting with Mr President; they will look at the ability to pay, and then with the state governors. NECA will also be involved and we will see how we marry those angles. It is not a one-stop affair.”

When contacted, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Idris Mohammed, did not take his calls and he had yet to respond to text and WhatsApp messages sent to his mobile line as of the time of filing this report.

The Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, said he was not so conversant with the internal deliberations of the committee, but affirmed that talks were ongoing among the committee members who, he noted, were cognizant of the urgency of their assignment.

However, a presidential aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not the official spokesperson for the President, said Tinubu might not wait for May 1 to announce the new minimum wage if the committee was able to complete its assignment as scheduled, noting that ordinarily, the new wage should come into effect on April 1.

The aide said, “I don’t think the government will be able to wait until May 1 before announcing the minimum wage. The law says it should be concluded by early April.

“If the parties agree, why do they have to wait to make the announcement? Because they are negotiating and the law says negotiations should be completed by April.”

Labour warns govs

The Organised Labour has warned state governors that it will not accept anything less than full implementation whenever the new minimum wage becomes law as it is ready to go into battle with such governors.

Labour’s position is coming at a time when the governors are asking the National Minimum Wage Committee to consider each state’s peculiarities in arriving at an acceptable figure, even as the panel is compiling the reports of its public hearing in the different zones.

The two labour centres in the country – the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress – are unanimous in rejecting the governors’ position, warning that it is a recipe for prolonged industrial unrest.

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum had urged the National Minimum Wage Committee to take into account the present circumstances, unique characteristics of individual states, and the effects on both the government and private sector employers’ ability to pay when determining the wage amount.

The NGF, in a communiqué issued after its virtual meeting, and signed by its Chairman and Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq, made available to journalists on Thursday, stated, “Members reviewed the progress of the National Minimum Wage Committee and ongoing multi-stakeholder engagements towards agreeing on a fair minimum wage.

“Members urged the NMWC to consider the current realities, individual states’ peculiarities, and consequential impact on the capacity of the government as well as private sector employers to pay. Members also emphasized the need for proposals to be data-driven and evidence-based.”

Before now, the labour unions had said the existing national minimum wage of N30,000 was no longer realistic, citing the steep inflation rate of 31.7 per cent in February from 29.9 per cent reported by the National Bureau of Statistics in January.

In January, the Federal Government inaugurated the tripartite committee responsible for deliberating on the national minimum wage.

Vice President Kashim Shettima inaugurated the 37-member panel at the Council Chamber of the State House in Abuja.

Comprising representatives of the federal and state governments, the private sector, and organised labour, the committee’s mandate is to propose a revised national minimum wage for the nation.

During zonal public hearings in Lagos, Kano, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, and Abuja, workers in the North-West requested N485,000; North-East, N560,000; North-Central, N709,000 (NLC) and N447,000 (TUC); South-West, N794,000; South-South, N850,000; and South-East, N540,000 by the NLC and N447,000 by the TUC.

However, the Adamawa and Bauchi state governments suggested N45,000 as the new minimum wage.

The NLC on Friday said governors who fail to implement the new minimum wage when it becomes a law would be breaking the law.

The Congress also noted that it was working towards ensuring that tougher sanctions would be meted on such governors.

In an exclusive interview with Saturday PUNCH in Abuja, the spokesperson for the NLC, Benson Upah, noted that while the Federal Government had never defaulted in the payment of minimum wages, governors had never performed up to the task.

Upah said, “I want to tell you that any state that refuses to pay the new minimum wage will be breaking the law because it will be a national law. The present minimum wage of N30,000 was consensual, so the governors who have refused to pay are breaking the law.

“One of the things we are trying to do with the present negotiation is to ensure that enough sanctions are provided. We are going to ensure that sanctions are sufficiently tough to deter such criminally minded governors. When it comes to the minimum wage, the Federal Government has been adhering. We really can’t recall a situation of default in terms of payment of the minimum wage by the Federal Government.

“Where we had challenges in the past was about defiant governors and their number has been in the minority.”

Similarly, the TUC said it was unacceptable for the governors to undermine the payment of living wages to the workers with their divide-and-rule tactics, adding that state governments had no excuse to do whatever would be agreed on as the minimum wage since they now had more money available following the removal of fuel subsidy.


The Deputy President, TUC, Dr Tommy Etim, told one of our correspondents that the new minimum wage law being worked on would impose penalties on state governors and private sector employers who refused to pay the agreed sum.

He said, “Let me let you know that the Act will be amended to accommodate all those excesses, and then there will be those penalties. Definitely, the Act will be amended to take into cognizance the exclusion, the penalties, and the enforcement for any governor who decides to be recalcitrant; as well as employers of labour who decide to be recalcitrant in the implementation of the minimum wage.

“The bottom line is that once the President signs the Minimum Wage Act, automatically, what is expected is the implementation. We don’t need to tell anybody to do the needful; the employer who hires you knows that he is going to pay you. Telling employers to pay is like telling a Pope how to prepare the Holy Communion.

“Yes, some governors could not pay the N30,000 old minimum wage; that was then and not now. If they couldn’t pay the N30,000 minimum wage, it therefore means that the Act was weak.”

Etim added, “The quantum of money they (governors) are getting from the removal of fuel subsidy is enough for them to pay. I don’t want anybody to say some governors may not want to pay the new minimum wage when it is unveiled. The ability to pay is there because they have more money accruing to them (governors) as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy.

“You know that in 2019, the sum of N30,000 was in vogue, and things were relatively still at the comfort of the masses, but in this case, have you taken a look at how much fuel is sold per litre now, the price of cooking gas, the price of bread, transportation? If anyone talks about the ability of the state governors to pay, it therefore means that we are preparing them to hide under that premise.”

The TUC deputy president added that there was no more room for excuses by the governors.

He said the process of getting a new minimum wage was still ongoing and that the TUC’s position on it had been well articulated and that it was tenable in all the zones.

Etim stated, “That is also what we are going to table because we will not give different figures as far as the national minimum wage is concerned. The TUC will come up with a common figure, except as we speak, (NLC president, Joe) Ajaero decides to drop his ego, and then walk in line.

“We are looking at many factors, including the ability to implement the minimum wage. It is not just for you to say N1m as minimum wage. You don’t make a caricature of a very serious matter. How do you arrive at N1m? You have to look at the ability to pay in line with the ILO (International Labour Organisation) minimum wage fixing conventions. You don’t have all those things on the ground and you are just announcing.

“That is why they (the NLC) couldn’t put their house in order. You find out that different zones came out with different minimum wages. It therefore means that the leadership did not show them the direction.

“When you look at TUC’s own, you will see that we have a direction and that is why our position on the minimum wage is in uniformity.

“However, as time goes on, we will get to the point of looking at our paper and then we will agree on our position.”

When asked if the NLC was in touch with the TUC to resolve their differences, Etim said, “I can tell you for free that nothing like that has happened. At my level in the TUC, a thing like that cannot take place without me being involved.

“Definitely, in the long run, we will come together. Let me also tell you that the mere fact that husbands and wives are quarreling does not prevent the children from eating.”

State labour leaders

The Chairman of the TUC in Ogun State, Akeem Lasisi, said workers in the state would not accept any excuse that the state government might want to put forward to delay the implementation of the new minimum wage.

Lasisi said once the Federal Government announces the new minimum wage, the workers expect the state government to waste no time in implementing it.

He said, “Labour will refuse to accept the lame argument that workers must bear the brunt of the high-handedness of the government.

“The government must set a good example by cutting the cost of governance. Well-compensated and motivated workers are essential for the development of a nation.

“The increase in minimum wage will result in increased productivity and this will eventually increase in monetary value without causing inflation.

“The Organised Labour in the country will not tolerate any excuse from the state governors because workers dictate the development of a nation and must be treated with utmost concern and honour.

“Should workers perish for a nation to develop? It does not require rocket science for the state government to pay a new minimum wage. State governments should escape out of the doom and enter a boom to make workers happy.

“The minimum wage is backed by law; it is on the exclusive list. State governments’ failure to uphold their end of the bargain will be quite regrettable and unacceptable.”

Similarly, the Chairman of the TUC in Ekiti State, Sola Adigun, said there was no basis for the labour movement in the state to think that Governor Biodun Oyebanji would give excuses when the new minimum wage is unveiled.

Adigun said, “At every forum, we inform the governor that the implementation of the new minimum wage will not have any issue in Ekiti State; he has agreed to that, and by the grace of God, there is no going to be any issue.

“So, there will be no basis for us now to start crying or speaking about failure or non-implementation of what has not been agreed on.

“Labour in Ekiti State and the government will work out a meaningful minimum wage or living wage for Ekiti State workers. I don’t expect him (the governor) to do otherwise.”

The Osun State TUC Chairman, Abimbola Fasasi, said Governor Ademola Adeleke had been part of regional negotiations with labour on the new wage.

According to him, Adeleke’s involvement in the negotiations will make it easier for the labour movement to demand the payment of the new minimum wage in the state.

“Fortunately for us here, our governor is involved in the negotiations. It makes it so easier for us here in Osun,” Fasasi stated.




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