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On Workers’ Day, Tinubu could declare a new minimum wage.

On Workers' Day, Tinubu could declare a new minimum wage
On Workers' Day, Tinubu could declare a new minimum wage


Rumor has it that President Bola Tinubu might postpone the implementation of the new minimum wage until April and declare it on May 1 in honor of International Labor Day.

According to information obtained by Saturday PUNCH, the President is expected to declare the new minimum wage in his Workers’ Day speech. The National Minimum Wage Committee is working to ensure that all negotiations regarding the new rate are finalized before then.


Due to the delicate nature of the subject, a committee member who spoke to Saturday PUNCH on condition of anonymity stated, “The minimum wage committee will meet again by next week.” It’s an ongoing meeting. At that meeting, all of the reports from the zonal public hearings will be compiled and presented, and the committee will also receive work direction from that meeting.

“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.”

The committee member stated that it was doubtful the new rate would be ready before March 31st when reminded that the current minimum wage of N30,000 would expire. They also added that there was still a long way to go before the nation arrived at a minimum wage that would be considered acceptable.

The report said,

“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.”

Idris Mohammed, Minister of Information and National Orientation, did not answer calls when reached, and as of the time this report was filed, he had not replied to texts or WhatsApp messages sent to his cell phone.

The President’s Special Advisor on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, acknowledged that he was not familiar with the committee’s internal discussions but that discussions were still taking place among the members, who were aware of the urgency of their task.

Though normally the new wage should take effect on April 1, a presidential aide noted that Tinubu might not wait until May 1 to announce the new minimum wage if the committee was able to finish its assignment on time. The aide spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not the President’s official spokesperson.

The aide stated, “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.”

Labor cautions the government

State governors have received a warning from Organized Labor that when the new minimum wage becomes law, it will not accept anything less than complete implementation. The union is prepared to fight these governors.

Labour’s stance comes at a time when the National Minimum Wage Committee is gathering the reports of its public hearings in the various zones and the governors are requesting that the panel take into account the unique circumstances of each state in determining an appropriate amount.

The country’s two labor organizations, the Trade Union Congress and the Nigeria Labour Congress concur in rejecting the governors’ stance and cautioning that it will only lead to protracted industrial unrest.

When deciding on the wage amount, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum urged the National Minimum Wage Committee to consider the current situation, the distinctive qualities of each state, and the impact on the ability of employers in the public and private sectors to pay.

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

“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 this, the labor unions had claimed that the current N30,000 national minimum wage was no longer feasible, citing the sharply rising inflation rate from 29.9% in January to 31.7% in February as evidence.

The tripartite committee charged with deciding on the country’s minimum wage was established by the federal government in January.

The 37-member panel was officially inaugurated at the State House in Abuja’s Council Chamber by Vice President Kashim Shettima.

The committee’s task is to suggest a new national minimum wage for the country. Its members include representatives of organized labor, the private sector, and the federal and state governments.

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

However, N45,000 was proposed as the new minimum wage by the state governments of Adamawa and Bauchi.

Governors who disregard the new minimum wage when it becomes a law, according to the NLC on Friday, would violate the law.

Additionally, Congress stated that it was attempting to guarantee that these governors would face harsher penalties.

According to Upah, “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.”

NLC spokesman Benson Upah stated that although the federal government had never failed to pay minimum wages, governors had never lived up to the expectation in an exclusive interview with Saturday PUNCH in Abuja.

He also said, “Let me let you know that the Act will be amended to accommodate all those excesses, and then there will be those penalties. 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 implementing the minimum wage.

“The bottom line is that once the President signs the Minimum Wage Act, the implementation is automatically expected. 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 also 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 subsidies.

“You know that in 2019, the sum of N30,000 was in vogue, and things were relatively still in the comfort of the masses, but in this case, have you taken a look at how much fuel is sold per liter 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.”

There was no more space for the governors to make excuses, the deputy president of the TUC continued.

He said that efforts to establish a new minimum wage were still in progress and that the TUC’s stance had been clearly stated as being viable in each zone.

Etim however 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.”

Etim responded, “I can tell you for free that nothing like that has happened,” when asked if the NLC was in contact with the TUC to settle their differences. Something like that cannot happen in the TUC without my involvement at my level.

“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

According to Akeem Lasisi, the Chairman of the TUC in Ogun State, employees in the state would not accept any justification offered by the government to postpone the introduction of the new minimum wage.

Workers anticipate that the state government will promptly implement the new minimum wage, according to Lasisi, as soon as the federal government announces it.

He stated, “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 honor.

“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.”

The labor movement in the state has no reason to believe that Governor Biodun Oyebanji will provide an explanation when the new minimum wage is announced, according to Sola Adigun, the Chairman of the TUC in Ekiti State.

Adigun also 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 an 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.”

Governor Ademola Adeleke participated in regional talks with labor on the new wage, according to Osun State TUC Chairman Abimbola Fasasi.

As per his assertion, Adeleke’s participation in the negotiations will facilitate the labor movement’s demand for 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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