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Minimum Wage showdown: FG in dilemma as 10 states offer NLC higher minimum wage

Strident efforts by the Federal Government to stave off nationwide strike by the organised labour, appears to have hit the brick wall following a startling revelation by the Nigerian Labour Congress on Monday that no fewer than ten states had offered to pay more than the N24,000 minimum wage suggested by the government.

It will be recalled that the organised labour on Sunday shunned a final rapprochement meeting with the Federal Government to adopt a new minimum wage of N24,000 agreed by the federal government.

The NLC had said that it would not attend any fresh negotiation with the government-led tripartite team, having negotiated and adopted N30,000 as the new minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

“We will never attend any further meeting for the purpose of negotiating or debating another national minimum wage having agreed on N30,000 last month with the federal government,” Mr. Uche Ekwe, Head of International Relations of the NLC, told Vanguard on Monday.

“We have concluded all matters related to new national minimum wage and if the politicians are unwilling to pay that basic minimum but continue to connive and work against the interest of the Nigerian workers they should hold themselves accountable for that and leave out of any meaningless meeting,” Ekwe said.


Pressed to explain, if the orgainsed labour could talk of any agreement when the government had not entered into one with them, the labour leader said that the federal and some state governors were actively working to truncate the decision already reached with labour so that they would not pay the new minimum wage.

Ekwe, who brandished a document showing what the respective states in the country offered to pay in writing during the tripartite negotiations, denied the claims by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum that they could only pay a paltry N22,500 as minimum wage.

The top labour official indicated that no fewer than ten of the 36 states had offered to pay wages much higher than what the federal government was tabling as new wage and warned that there would be no peace in the country until the N30,000 was adopted as the new benchmark.

According to the document made available to Vanguard, Plateau State had offered to pay up to N57,000 when labour initially insisted on N67,500 but later came down to between N25,000 and N30,000.

The labour document, which has now been released to the public as part of the NLC move to prove that the government was unwilling to pay more than what it is offering, indicated that: Abia offered to pay at least N42,000, Jigawa N32,000, Nasarawa N31,000 while Kano offered to pay N30,000 as minimum wage.

Similarly, Gombe State is said to be willing to pay N28,000, Borno 27,000, Bauchi N25, Adamawa N23,000 , Ondo N22,000, and Taraba, N20,000.

The anger of the NLC is that a tiny minority of federal and state officials is actively taking steps to truncate the payment of the new wage, which states with weaker economic fortunes had agreed to pay.

However, labour is most disappointed with states that receive high allocations from the federal government and also net high monthly internally generated income but have deliberately refused to offer to pay anything to the exiting N18,000 minimum wage.

According to the document, Lagos offered to pay whatever other southern state government would pay while Enugu State also agreed to pay any amount agreed centrally.

On the other hand, states like Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Rivers, Imo, Bayelsa, Ekiti, Kogi and Katsina have remained silent on the new minimum wage, opting to wait and see what the government would eventually come out with.

However, Delta State, which is one of the states that receive the highest revenue from oil and IGR, made it abundantly clear to labour that it could not ‘accommodate an increase for now on the present federal government allocation to the state’.

According to some of the Niger Delta states, which receive 13 percent of the federation revenue monthly, they can only talk about increasing workers’ pay if the federal government reduces its own share of national revenue and gives more money to the states.

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, openly canvassed that position last week and blamed the federal government and the All Progressives Congress for the ongoing minimum wage palava with workers, saying that it was their headache.

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