NIGERIA Labour Congress (NLC) officials have dubbed nine state governors anti-worker for refusing to start paying the new minimum wage and have vowed to take industrial action should it be removed from the federal exclusive list.
In February 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Minimum Wage Act in 2019 which officially increased the pay of the lowest paid Nigerian worker to N30,000 ($78.7) from the previous paltry sum of N18,000 a month. However, several state governors have refused to start paying this new minimum wage.
To make matters worse, Hon Garba Muhammad, the member of the House of Representatives for the Sabon Gari Constituency of Zaria, Kaduna State, sponsored a bill yesterday that would remove the minimum wage from the exclusive list. NLC president Comrade Ayuba Wabba, accused the governors of using Hon Garba Muhammad, against the interests of workers.
Comrade Wabba said he wondered why some governors, who were represented during the process of negotiations refused to pay the agreed N30,000 minimum wage. Yesterday, NLC branches across the country staged demonstrations to protest the non-payment of the minimum wage.
“When the N30, 000 minimum wage was fixed, it was negotiated and six governors represented the interests of the geo-political zones. 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, 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 then taken aback that some governors. Let me mention that the governors are nine because there are only nine out of the 36 that are anti-workers, led by the governor of Muhammad’s home state.
“We are told and nobody has contradicted this fact, that the lawmakers collect N13m per month, so how can Hon Muhammad say that the current minimum wage of N30, 000 is too much for the Nigerian worker? He must withdraw that bill with immediate effect if he wants peace to reign in his family and in his constituency and if he wants to end well as a politician because the Nigerian workers cannot be taken for granted,” Comrade Wabba added.
He accused one governor in the northwest of failing to pay the entitlements of workers that were sacked. He also accused the governor of trying to force workers who have attained the age of 50 to retire.
Sunny Osayande, the chairman of the Edo State chapter of the NLC, said that the attempt by members of the National Assembly to remove the national minimum wage from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List would amount to wickedness and not being considerate. Likewise, Comrade Ayuba Magaji Suleiman, the chairman of the Kaduna State chapter of the NLC insisted that the national minimum wage and workers’ rights should not be decentralised.
Jerry Nnubia, the chairman of the Anambra State chapter of the NLC added that workers would never allow the minimum wage removed from the exclusive list. he led a big crowd of placard-carrying workers in Awka, the state capital.