By Kauthar Anumba-Khaleel, Abuja
The House of Representatives passed for second reading a bill to amend the National Minimum Wage Act to allow for periodic review of the National minimum wage.
The bill which seeks to codify and make mandatory, the review of the National minimum wage every five years is titled: “a bill for an Act to mend the national minimum wage Act, cap N.61 laws of the federation of Nigeria 2004 and for other related matters”.
Sponsor of the bill, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila in his debate said that the bill which was coming on the heels of democracy day celebration, seeks to provide for periodic review of the national minimum wage every five years.
Gbajabiamila who noted that salary is the major component of people’s welfare, regretted that the review of national minimum wage is at the whims and caprice of the government as there is currently no law compelling the government to review salaries.
He also stressed that review of wages should not be seen as a priveledge but the right of citizens which should be backed by law as is with the law on the review of pensions.
“Section 173 (3) of the Constitution provides that there should be a review of pensions every five years whereas there is no such law on the review of workers salaries.
“Therefore, what the bill seka is to amend the minimum wage act to have the review of workers salaries every five years’.
The lawmaker stated that many countries such as the UK, USA, India, have in their laws a periodic review of wages, adding that the bill was long overdue.
He warned that the government cannot successfully bring corruption to its knees if the salaries and wages of civil servants can not cater to their needs.
According to him, “section 1 of the Principal Act is hereby amended in sub-section 2 by inserting immediately after the word ‘whatsoever’ in line 2 a proviso to read as follows: “Provided that the minimum wage in sub-section 1 of this section shall be subject to periodic review every 5 years and the first review shall be effective from the 1st day of January, 2017 irrespective of the day the Bill comes into force”.
“Section 2 of the Principal Act is hereby amended by inserting immediately after sub-section 2 a new sub-section 3 to read as follows: “the Minister may by order published in the Federal Gazette review the minimum wage any time before 5 years from the day of last review in the event of some supervening circumstances in the interest of the national economy and Nigerian workers.
Provided that in the event that this sub-section is activated by the Minister, the next periodic review contemplated under section 1 shall be 5 years after the review under this sub-section”.
Again, “Section 9 of the Principal Act is hereby amended in by inserting immediately after paragraph a new paragraph as follows: “Review” means either maintaining status quo which shall not be maintained for two consecutive periods, or upward review”, Gbajabiamila explained.
Speaking in favour of the bill, Hon. Yakub Balogun explained that amending the bill will enshrin what is provided for in section 173(3) of the Constitution regarding pensions.
Also, Hon. Toby Okechukwu posited that the best way to prevent incessant strikes and protests by workers is to amend the act and make all the necessary adjustments to increase the national minimum wage.
On his part, Hon. Emmanuel Orker-Jev said the amendment of the minimum wage Act was long overdue going by the provisions of the principle Act.