The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, on Wednesday, said that the Federal Government did not support governors on their latest decision to pay workers N22,500 minimum wage.
The minister, while responding to a callers on the position of government on the lingering minimum wage discussions on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme, criticised the governors for the proposed N22,500 which is even below the N24, 000 agreed by the federal government.
Ngige said: “The governors have not even done enough. I told them that this N22,500 is even rejected by the Federal Government. The national minimum wage is a national legislation being driven by the federal government of Nigeria in pursuance to item 34 of the Exclusive Legislative list.
“But you don’t go and make a law which people will disobey at the initial. If you make a law and hoax a figure that is not agreeable, which people don’t have the capacity or ability to pay because the International Labour Organisation (ILO) says in those negotiations, the principle is the ability to pay”, the minister added.
Ngige promised that despite the absence the Chairman of the Tripartite Committee, Ama Pepple, who travelled out of the country for a medical check-up, the Federal Government would convene a meeting of those involved in the minimum wage to deliberate on the issue and take a final decision.
Noting that although workers are demanding N30,000 as minimum wage, the minister said that any industrial action being embarked on by the aggrieved workers on the pending new national minimum wage would not resolve the issues at stake.
It would be recalled that the Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Zamfara state governor, Abdul’Aziz Yari, had on Tuesday explained that the decision of the governors to pay N22,500 was based on the current economic realities.
On Wednesday, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), and United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC) had mobilised workers in their folds, workers and civil society groups to protest in major streets across the country on the governors’ decision.
Curiously, the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, has raised the organized labour’s earlier demand for N30,000 to N66,500, saying paying the latter is possible and will not create any inflation in the economy.