Nigerian governors on Tuesday said that they can only pay N22,500 as national minimum wage for workers as against the N30,000 being demanded by organised labour groups.

The governors’ position on the lingering minimum wage issue was taken after the Nigeria Governors’ Forum emergency meeting held till late hours in Abuja, attended by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Sen. Chris Ngige, and his Ministry of Budget and National Planning counterpart, Sen. Udoma Udoma.

The governors’ disclosure came as members of the organised labour groups protested in many states to sensitise Nigerians to the planned industrial action scheduled to kick off on November 6 nationwide if their N30,000 minimum wage demand was not met.

While the organized labour groups, especially the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), are demanding N30,000 as the national minimum wage, the Federal Government had earlier agreed to pay N24, 000.

The Chairman of the NGF and Governor of Zamfara State, Mr Abdulaziz Yari, who briefed journalists after the meeting, said: “Following a meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum where we deliberated on the National Minimum Wage after a briefing from our representatives at the Tripartite Committee, we submit as follows:

“The welfare of all Nigerians is our ultimate concern. In all our states, we are concerned about the deteriorating economic situation experienced by the vulnerable segment of our population. In agreeing to a national minimum wage, however, the Forum is even more concerned about development, particularly in the health, education and infrastructure spheres.

“It is therefore our considered position that since the percentage of salaried workers is not more than five per cent of the total working population, our position must not just reflect a figure, but also a sustainable strategy based on ability and capacity to pay, as well as reflective of all our developmental needs in each state.

“After all, Section 3 of the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission Act provides that ‘the Commission shall recommend a proposition of income growth which should be initiated for wage increase and also examine the salary structure in public and private sectors with reasonable features of relativity and maximum levels which are in consonance with the national economy.

“It is in this sense that we feel strongly that our acceptable minimum wage must be done in such a way that total personnel cost does not exceed 50 per cent of the revenue available to each state. Govermors, therefore, agreed to pay a national minimum wage of N22,500”, the governor added.

Earlier in the day, the NLC and the TUC members protested in some cities to sensitise the public to their planned nationwide strike scheduled to start on November 6 unless the Federal and State Governments accede to their N30,000 demand