President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that necessary machinery was being put in place to transmit an Executive Bill to the National Assembly on the N30,000 new minimum wage package negotiated by a tripartite committee comprising government and labour.
He said as the Executive arm begins its review of the submission, government would continue to engage labour in closing any open areas presented in the report.
“I, therefore, would like to ask for your patience and understanding in the coming weeks.”
Buhari, who urged workers not to allow themselves to be used as “political weapons” said his administration was not only committed to workers’ welfare, but also working to create a diversified and inclusive economy.
“In constituting this committee, we took into account the need for all stakeholders to be adequately represented – the government, the private sector and most importantly the workers. Our goal was to get an outcome that was consensual.
“From the onset, we knew the committee had a difficult task ahead of it. But at the same time, we were also confident that the patriotic and professional background of its members would produce realistic, fair and implementable recommendations that will be considered by both the executive and legislative arms of government.
“I am not surprised that the committee has worked for close to one year. I am also not surprised that on a few occasions, the debates got heated and sometimes, these differences came out.
“What is truly inspiring is that, in almost all instances of disagreements, the committee members always came back to the negotiating table with a common goal of improving the welfare of Nigerian workers. On behalf of all Nigerians today, I want to thank you for your commitment and sacrifice in getting us to where we are today.
“In the past few days, I have been receiving regular updates on your deliberations. And today, I am pleased that you have completed your work in a peaceful and non-confrontational manner. The entire nation is grateful to you all.
“The committee chairman highlighted some of the challenges encountered during your deliberations, especially as it relates to having a consensus position acceptable by all parties.
“I understand that on the government side, the concerns raised were around affordability – that today many states struggle to meet their existing salary requirements.
“On the side of labour, the points raised focused on the need for any increase to be meaningful.”
Chairperson of the Tripartite Committee Ms Ama Pepple said the enactment of the draft bill into law was critical to the operation and future reviews of the National Minimum Wage.
According to her, to reach a consensus, the committee weighed the demand of the workers, which was predicated on the high cost of living occasioned by unfavourable exchange rate and rising inflation over the past few years, among other factors.
“The committee also considered the overall macroeconomic indicators, including the revenue and expenditure profile of government as provided by the honorable ministers of Budget and National Planning and Finance as well as the minimum wage proposed by some state governments in their memoranda submitted to the committee.
“Consideration was also given to the critical role of the informal sector in employment generation and the need for a realistic minimum wage that will not stifle the growth of the sector and the overall economy.
Meanwhile, Sen. Roland Owie, chairman, National Contact Committee of ADP, has tackled the government over the N30,000 minimum wage.
According to him, governments have capacity to pay even more than that.
In a statement he personally signed, Owie said it was “wickedness of the highest order” for a government that raised pump price from N97 to N145 per litre, and governors who collect N500 million per month as security votes to say they could not pay N30,000 minimum wage
“What is N30,000 when suffering Nigerians pay their personal drivers up to N50,000 per month?
“I urge Nigerians to heed what St. Augustine said when he wrote that Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are and Courage to see they do not remain the way they are.
“I urge Nigerian workers also to be true to God, humanity, their families and themselves this time around and never again deceive themselves or Nigerians by ensuring they all obtain their PVCs and do the needful in the 2019 general elections. This is the hour for Nigerians to support Labour,” he said.