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.