Minimum Wage: Beyond Constitutional Matter

Nigeria News – Minimum Wage: Beyond Constitutional Matter

The story of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige will be prominent whenever the history book of Nigeria workers is opened, only if this present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will increase the minimum wage.

The minister will love that the increment happens in his time but without the support of the state governors, the policy looks much like a tall order.

Almost all the 36 state governors are not ready to pay the new wage to civil servants. Many of the state governments have not been able to pay the current N18, 000.

The governors have representation in the tripartite committee set up by the Federal Government. But it appears they are the real problem to the committee.

The Nigeria Labour Congress and its trade union counterpart had proposed a N56, 000 minimum wage and from all indications, the Federal Government may be ready to pay N30, 000.

The issue of minimum wage is on the exclusive legislative list of the Constitution of the Federal Republic, which of course means that the Central does not need to wait for the state to implement a new minimum wage.

However, it seems Buhari will not just act but he’s waiting for the governors to comply with the resolution of the tripartite committee before he will announce the new minimum wage, even though he has the exclusive Constitutional provision to do so.

The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, who is also the Governor of Zamfara State said that the state governors could not endorse a new minimum wage because many state governments could not even pay the current minimum wage of N18, 000.

He noted that most states still owed the N18, 000 minimum wage and forcing them to key into any increment now would be suicidal.

The Buhari-led government is at a crossroad, a crucial moment, in which it has to either act as stipulated by the Constitution or continue dialoguing with the governors on why a new minimum wage is necessary now.

Perhaps, this may boost the confidence of the All Progressives Congress as the party begins its issue-based campaign.

The All Progressives Congress is in critical need of this kind of development to win votes in the 2019 general election.

It is almost three years now that the fuel pump Price was increased from N86.5 to N140 as part of the FG efforts to stop fuel subsidy and in other words to stop the incessant fuel scarcity in the country.

Average Nigeria worker feels more of the pain. The government has refused to increase workers’ salaries as inflation battles the nation hard.

Now that the price of crude oil is on the rise, which ordinarily would have helped the government to Jack up workers’ pay, the government concentrates more on building roads and rail line.

It means new wage won’t just happen because the governors who can make it happen think more of their security votes more than workers’ salaries.

The Federal Government has helped the state governments more than three times with Paris Funds to pay workers’ salaries, which of course has not only exposed the incapacity of the states to pay new wage but has also shown that the minimum wage is beyond a constitutional matter.

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Sunday AKINFENWA

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