The Federal Government on Wednesday pledged its commitment to fully implement the new minimum wage of N30,000 recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Many state governors in the country made a similar commitment, promising to implement the new minimum wage as soon as the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission worked out the guidelines and modalities.
This is even as labour unions in the country lamented the high rate of inflation and rising unemployment in the country, suggesting that the 67 percent increase in the national minimum wage from N18,000 to N30,000 may not have achieved much in view of the current economic realities.
In his remarks at the Workers’ Day rally at the Eagle Square in Abuja, President Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, stressed that the Nigerian workers and citizens were the central hub of all economic policies and programmes of his government.
“We believe that the Nigerian citizen should be the central hub of all economic policies and programmes of government, their welfare and wellbeing should be the benchmark of our commitment for social justice to all Nigerians,” Buhari said.
“The National Minimum Wage which the president signed into law a few days ago shall be fully implemented by this administration. We shall continue to provide enabling environment for high productivity and industrial peace and harmony,” he said.
The president praised the leadership of the labour movement, led by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), and also lauded the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for the event, which coincided with the 100 years of the ILO and 60 years of the ILO in Africa.
The theme of the day, ‘Another 100 Years of Struggle for Jobs, Dignity and Social Justice in Nigeria’, he said, was apt, even as he lauded the ILO for supporting Nigeria in the implementation of labour-related policies, programmes and action plans against hard labour, forced labour and modern slavery. He also reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to job creation and protection of the rights and dignity of workers.
Also speaking in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, Governor Abiola Ajimobi assured workers of his administration’s resolve to pay the N30,000 minimum wage without delay.
The governor, whose speech was read by his deputy, Moses Adeyemo, said as soon as the ongoing negotiations initiated by labour leaders with the government were concluded and documented, the enhanced salaries would be paid to elevate the living condition of the workers.
“I wish to restate the commitment of the government of Oyo State to honouring the Minimum Wage Act as soon as ongoing negotiations are concluded and necessary templates and documentation are issued,” Ajimobi said.
“I charge all workers to reciprocate the various good gestures of the state government by being more dedicated, proactive and punctual at their duty posts for increased productivity. The public service is no longer a dumping ground for people with mediocre ability. We all must stand up and stand right to reposition the system for better service delivery,” he said.
In Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel promised to implement the new minimum wage “after necessary documentations have been effected”.
In Bayelsa, Governor Seriake Dickson assured organised labour that his government would be among the first in the country to pay the new minimum wage.
Speaking in Yenagoa, Dickson said the state would pay once the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission worked out the modalities.
In Edo, the state government said it would constitute a joint committee made up of organised labour and representatives of government for the implementation of the new minimum wage.
Godwin Obaseki, the state governor, speaking during the May Day celebration at the University of Benin sports complex in Benin City on Wednesday, said the committee would finalise modalities for the payment of the new minimum wage.
He noted that the state government had last October promised to pay the minimum wage once the bill was passed by the National Assembly and assented to by President Buhari.
“Now that Mr President has assented to the enacted bill passed by the National Assembly, Edo State is ready to commence immediately the implementation of the new minimum wage, even though we are awaiting the detailed guidelines which will be issued by the National Salary, Income and Wages Commission,” Obaseki said.
“Before that happens, a joint team of representatives of labour and government will be constituted immediately to finalise the modalities for payment,” he said.
He, however, tied the implementation of the minimum wage in the state to improved revenue, tasking workers on higher productivity.
In Anambra, Governor Willie Obiano said his administration would be one of the first few states to pay the new national minimum wage once Federal Government released payment guidelines.
“I have formally declared the intention of my administration to pay the newly approved minimum wage in the state. And I will begin the implementation once the guidelines for the payment of the minimum wage are released by the Federal Government,” Obiano said in his address to workers in Awka on Wednesday.
“All the demands tabled before the Special Committee on Labour Issues headed by my deputy, Nkem Okeke, have been approved in principle,” Obiano said.
In Ondo, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu said his administration would pay the N30,000 new minimum wage, assuring workers that their welfare was paramount to the government.
“Let me inform our workers today that Ondo State government will pay the new minimum wage as approved by law. The welfare of workers is paramount to us and we believe you must get your pay because you are very important to us. The new minimum wage is non-negotiable, it is your right,” Akeredolu said.
“We all know that the N18,000 cannot take you home, but hopefully, this new N30,000 will take you home. This government will pay the minimum wage,” he said.
In Taraba State, however, workers who thronged the Jolly Nyame Stadium in Jalingo to celebrate the Workers’ Day left the venue disappointed as Governor Darius Ishaku failed to comment on the implementation of the new minimum wage in the state.
Ishaku’s speech, which was read by the deputy governor, Haruna Manu, maintained tactical silence on the issue of minimum wage but promised to commence payment of the backlog of pension and gratuity of retired civil servants.
“The governor came back yesterday (Tuesday), but he didn’t show up to address us on an important day like this. We were all expecting to hear the good news, but unfortunately, he didn’t show up and his speech which was read by the deputy governor was silent on the issue of minimum wage,” said a civil servant who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity.
“The pension and gratuity he promised to pay are our entitlements and he is not doing workers any favour. We expect the governor to address the issue of minimum wage very soon because things are not getting better,” the civil servant said.
Source: By INNOCENT ODOH and REMI FEYISIPO
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