Minimum Wage: How Buhari Put the State Governors Into Trouble

By Elizabeth Chukwuma

 President Muhammadu Buhari, of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, appears to have  put the  36 states  governor  of the Federation of into trouble over  the N30, 000.00 minimum wage approved  for the Federal Civil Servants.  The state governors had consistently argued  that their budgetary allocation  from the Federation Account and internally generated revenue  would not be able to carry the minimum wage bill and that they would pay according to their capacity.

But this is  not what  Ayuba  Wabba,  led  Nigeria  led Nigeria Labour Congress , NLC, would want to hear. Wabba, was said to have  prepared the workers’ mind on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, being workers’  Day, that the  new minimum wage  approved  by the President would go round  including the state and local government workers.  THE NLC, President  was said to  have assured workers throughout the Federation  that they should   the N30,000.00 , minimum wage  which would commence this month.

A top labour official   told The Value News that they are ready any state or any Company  that may not want to pay the  new minimum wage. Note that Bukola Saraki, the Senate, may have used the  endorsement of the new minimum  wage  which was sent to the Katsina born Nigerian President  for his assent as a parting gift for the workers. He may have had a feelings that the Present would not assent to the bill to pitch the workers against  him  in order to ground the econmy. He got it wrong, as Buhari did not hesistate in giving his approval. This may have have won the President to the heart of the workers  who sees as  a fulfillment of one his electioneering Campaign promises.

The State Labour labours, were said to have used the workers’ Day celebration  to call on the state governors  and the Organised Private sector to begin the payment  of the new minimum wage  as directed by the President this month of May to avoid running into trouble with Labour.   Peter Ozo- Eson,  the NLC,  General Secretary,  may have known that the new minimum wage law implementation  in both the public and  Organised private sector , across the country, would not be a ” one- off process but  one that requires  dilligence and accuracy”. According to him, ”a Law takes  effect  from the day  it was signed by the President”, an indication that  the new minimum  wage law took effect  from the April 18, 2019,  when it was assented to by the President.

He , however,  noted  that the actual implementation  and when the money would be paid including arrears  that  may result out of the salary increase  was a matter of individual employer’s Consultations with the relevant Union.  Many believe that  while in some sectors of the economy, particular the oil and maritime sectors,  there not be any difficulty in pay the minimum wage , including Lagos, Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa  Ibom and Rivers  state.

The fear of  Labour analysts  was that  most of the states  may not  be able to  pay the minimum wage because of  poor revenue  allocations  from the federation  account. Their case, according to sources was made worse because of low internal revenue general generation. The argument of the  governors from the non oil producing states, particular in the north , was that  they could  not go  below the  bench mark of N19, 000.

By Imposing the N30,000.00 minimum on the states and the Organised Private sector,  the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, fears that that it  might force the nation’s economy to slide to another round of recession by mid 2021.Abdul Aziz Yari, governor of Zamfara state and Chairman  of the Forum, who spoke the mind of the governors  said  Buhari  has prepared the ground  of an impending recession by mid 2020. Yari averred that borrowing  to run the government   cannot be  a reliable solution   to the  country’s economic problems. Political Observers believe  that the outgoing NGF , president  has  merely sent  fears  to the newly elected governors  who are expected to resume office by May 29, 2019. The Zamfara state governor , may have alluded to the claim when , when he told the governors’ elect, who were on a three- day retreat in Abuja, that it is better to prepare  their    about the possibility  of another  recession  by the middle of next year as  they may not be able to accommodate the  N30,00.00 minimum wage.

Godwin Emiefele, governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, is not ready to take that  from the NGF,  president. The CBN, governor, may have assured the governors  and the country in general , that there was no cause to worry about the economy as the country is  ”experiencing  steady  but marginal growth  just as it is already  coming out of high inflation rate”.

While unveiling  the International  Monetary  Fund, IMF,   regional economic outlook for sub-saharan   Africa on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, at Abuja,  Joseph Nana,  the apex  Bank, deputy governor,  for Economic Policy Inspectorate , explained that  right now,  the country was on the path  of achieving   price stability goal of ”single- digit  inflation”. Nana, the CBN,  deputy governor, queried  pessimists like , Yari, and his cohorts in the NGF,  whether the country    is going to witness another  round of  increased inflation  or  sliding back into recession?  Apparently responding to the question, he said  No. He  insists that  the country is making smooth progress  towards  growth  , stressing that by the end of  this year, the target of the Bank  is to achieve between  2.8  percent and 3 percent  Gross Domestic  Product, GDP. growth rate.

He noted that  the  negative per capital  growth  in the economy  was a spill -over  effect   of the 2016 recession  but  not that the country is  going through recession again. ”That won’t happen,  not under  the current  watch of  the Emefiele, led CBN,  management.  This should gladden  the heart of the governors elect who were already feeling of what awaits them in front as they assume  office on May 29, 2019.

 My Administration Will Implement New Minimum Wage

 By  Muhammadu Buhari

I am delighted to be with you on this historic occasion marking the International Workers Day otherwise known as May Day which is also coming on the heels of the Centenary Celebration the International Labour Organization (ILO). These two events have far-reaching significance for Workers in particular and the World of Work in general.

One defined and regulated the world of work through international labour standards and the other established the protection of the fundamental rights and dignity of the working people. These critical events had over the years defined employment relations globally.

Another uniqueness of this Year’s Celebration is that the International Labour Organization (ILO) as part of its arrangement towards the celebration of its Centenary gave the member States the opportunity to select their ‘Country Themes’ in the spirit of its Centenary.

It is in recognition of this, that our Country chose its theme for this Year’s May Day Celebration as ‘’Another 100 Years of Struggle for Jobs, Dignity and Social Justice in Nigeria.’’ You may recall that at the attainment of independence in 1959, we became a Member of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The early decision to join the ILO was predicated on the strong conviction that international labour standards as formulated by the ILO since its inception in 1919 aimed at promoting opportunities for decent and productive work under conditions of freedom, equity, security and dignity was imperative in building a virile and strong workforce which our young country needed for its rapid socio-economic development. It is for this reason that the Centenary Celebration of the ILO is both emotive and sentimental to us as a country.

It is of utmost importance for me to state here that the ILO had over the years supported the Country in the development and Implementation of Labour related Policies, Action Plans and programs to tackle Child Labour, Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking. Recently ILO also collaborated with Nigeria in her affirmation as a member of Pathfinder countries on the elimination of Child Labour, Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.

Pathfinder Countries are pioneer Countries of Alliance 8.7 who have decided to pull resources together and channel same towards the achievement of Target 8.7 of Sustainable Development Goals. We shall ask and request the ILO to support further. In addition, the ILO Conventions especially those ratified by our country had been useful in the formulation of our national labour legislation and policies that govern employment relations and good conduct of industrial relations in general. I am optimistic we shall continue to leverage on these collaborations to further strengthen our labour institutions, update labour legislations and policies in tandem with international best practices as well as foster stronger ties among the social partners in the coming years.

Comrades, I am also convinced that the careful selection of the theme is a reflection of our collective commitment to job creation, protection of workers’ dignity and promoting social justice in the country as espoused in various provisions of the Constitution. Therefore, today’s event should provide us the opportunity to reflect on our fidelity to these great principles. Our Administration firmly committed to these principles. On assumption of office in 2015, in spite of the daunting economic challenges which confronted us at the time, we ensured that no worker was retrenched across the country. We further kept faith with this commitment by providing bailout funds for States unable to pay salaries and other benefits in order to pay accumulated arrears. We also had to release the Paris Club refunds owed since 2005 to make sure workers were not owed anything.

We also ensured the payment of outstanding benefits of retrenched Nigerian Airways workers owed for decades and the benefits of …..The Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), has paid arrears owed to parastatals and civil service pensioners covering 101,393 civil service pensioners on all grade level and 76,310 parastatals pensioners across 186 agencies. This is in addition to arrears paid to Pensioners in the Police and Customs services in 2016 and 2018. Our Administration also settled the issue of benefits of Nigerian armed forces and Paramilitary personnel who were dismissed and later pardoned for participating on the side of the recession in the course of the civil war 1967-1970. All of these veterans have now been paid their benefits.

Our Social Investment Programme …the largest of its kind in Africa, is one directed at ensuring that we are able to provide opportunities in both the formal and informal sectors of the economy. Indeed the largest numbers of Nigerian workers are the informal workers.

Those comrades of our who are petty traders, smallholder farmers, artisans and tradesmen. Our NPower programme employs 500,000 young Nigerian graduates, an additional 75;000 in specialized training as builders and automotive technicians as well as programmers and animation technology specialists. Our Homegrown School Feeding Programme where we now feed 9.5 million children daily in 30 States provides over 100:000 jobs for cooks and farmers across the country. Our Trader Moni Market Moni Programmes provides almost 2 million loans to petty traders in all States of the Federation. Our Anchor Borrowers Programme has also provided over 1million loans to smallholder farmers. So for our Administration The theme ‘’Another 100 Years of Struggle for Jobs, Dignity and Social Justice in Nigeria’’ is not merely a headline for this May Day celebration. We truly believe that the Nigerian citizen, especially those at the bottom of the pyramid must be the central focus of all economic planning and budgeting. Their welfare

and well being are the true benchmarks of our commitment as governments and people to Social justice and dignity of man in Nigeria. We will continue to commit ourselves to the cause of improving a lot of every working Nigerian and providing for those who cannot work. In this regard, the New National Minimum Wage which I signed into Law a few days ago shall be fully implemented by my Administration. Let me once again express my deepest appreciation to the leadership of the Nigerian Workers for the understanding showed during and after the negotiations of the New National Minimum Wage.

we shall continue to provide the enabling environment , higher productivity, industrial peace and harmony as well as congenial atmosphere for effective collective bargaining amongst trade unions and employers while also Protecting fundamental rights and other lawful rights at work At the just concluded General Elections, Nigerians and indeed Nigerian Workers gave my Administration another mandate to govern them. We shall reciprocate this electoral gesture, by focusing on the critical issues , that will advance speedily improve the quality of lives and livelihoods of Nigerians these include the building of infrastructure roads, and rail, reforming key driving sectors of the national economy in order to put the country on a sustainable path of economic growth and prosperity.

We are especially committed to changing the narrative in the power sector. Today that sector after it was privatized still remains challenged in delivering power to many Nigerian homes and businesses.

We must as a matter of National importance rework and re-engineer the sector for much more effective performance. Workers shall be called upon to play greater roles in supporting the Government to attain these goals.

Industrial peace is central to economic stability. Every industrial disruption costs the National economy very dearly in money and man-hours lost.

It is for this reason that I urge all Actors in the industrial relations system to be more circumspect, patriotic and ethical in the use of industrial actions as tools for resolving workplace crisis and addressing grievances. Industrial actions because of the huge economic and social costs must be the last, not the first option in resolving disputes.
Comrades, as we join the rest of the world to celebrate the 2019 International Workers Day and Member States of the International Labour Organization (ILO) on its Centenary Anniversary of the ILO, let me commend your resilience, tenacity, sacrifice and commitment in standing up against every form of oppression, exploitations, unfair labour practices, social injustice, commodification of labour and violation of the fundamental rights of the working people of this country and world over.

Finally, I want to thank all of you for the support given to my Administration in our first tenure and solicit for greater support and cooperation to enable us to build a country where our youths would be gainfully employed, the security of work assured and the fundamental rights of our working  people guaranteed.

 For the Records. Speech  delivered by President Muhammadu Buhari On Workers Day, May 1, 2019.

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