BY VICTOR OSOWOCHI, ABUJA – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has accused nine Governors of backing ongoing attempts to remove the national minimum wage from the exclusive legislative list.
Though not specifically listing the governors allegedly involved in the current scheming, available records with the Congress leadership indicate that nine states have refused to implement the N30,000 minimum wage payment almost two years after President Muhammadu Buhari accented to the Act in 2019.
The affected states include Abia; Benue; Cross River; Kogi; and Kwara. Others are: Nasarawa; Plateau; Taraba; and Zamfara.
Describing the nine states governments as “anti-workers,” the NLC accused them of manipulation and conniving against the interests of Nigerian workers.
President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said it is regrettable that a few governors have refused to honour the agreed N30,000 minimum wage as negotiated in an open process in which they were fully represented.
Wabba spoke at the Unity Fountain in Abuja while addressing workers during the nationwide protests against moves by the House of Representatives to remove the powers to negotiate minimum wage from the Federal Government.
He said; “We are then taken aback by a few governors’ action. Let me mention that the governors are nine, because some of them gave us this information. They are only nine out of the 36 that are anti-workers.”
The Lower Legislative Chamber had two weeks ago debated a bill seeking to excise the powers to negotiate wage matters from the exclusive to concurrent legislative list, citing State governments inability to pay the N30,000 minimum wage as reason behind the move.
The bill, sponsored Mohammed Datti-Babawo, representing Sabongari Federal Constituency of Kaduna State, has passed through Second reading in the House.
The NLC President urged the lawmaker to immediately withdraw the bill in the overall interest of Nigerian workers.
According to him, anything to the contrary would be a betrayal of trust by the governors, because, “When the N30,000 minimum wage was fixed it was negotiated. Six governors represented the interests of the geo-political zones. We had MAN, SMSE, CCI, NECA, also on the table.
“Our demand was N66,000, looking at the economic challenge and how the purchasing powers of Nigerian workers have dwindled but through the process of dialogue and negotiations, including the ability to pay, on the negotiation table we were reasonable and everybody agreed on N30, 000.
“That is how the report was submitted to Mr President, a bill went to the National Assembly, there was a public hearing and it was promulgated.
“We are told and nobody has contradicted this fact, that they (lawmakers) collect N13m per month. How can he (Muhammad) in his right senses say that the current minimum wage of N30,000 is too much for Nigerian workers? Can we say shame to him?”
All State capitals across the country were expected to host protests simultaneously by workers under the umbrella of NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) against the planned removal of minimum wage from the Exclusive Legislative List.