The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said that if corruption by public officials at both federal and state levels is reduced, there will be enough funds to pay workers the new proposed minimum wage.
NLC president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, made this comment during the public hearing on minimum wage held in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital.
The event was organised by the tripartite committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to negotiate a new minimum wage for workers.
In his presentation, the NLC president faulted claims by some governors that they lack resources to implement a new minimum wage giving the current economic challenges.
Wabba said the issue of non-payment of salary was not about lack of resources, but rather about mismanagement of available resources.
He said, “There is no way we can wish away the fact that inflation has eaten away the value of N18,000. There is no way we can wish away the high cost of food and services. These are the realities. Therefore, if there is the will, there will also be a way.
“If we are able to reduce the fundamental corruption in our system where the elite see political office as an avenue to accumulate wealth, we can have more than enough to service the poor and implement a new minimum wage.
“If they reduce what they are stealing, there will be enough to pay workers. In fact some people even stole their share of bailout. To say that because of resources, the workers should continue to be impoverished is unacceptable. Any political class that tries to advance that, we will be ready for them. It is all about good governance.”
Wabba further stated that the public hearing was necessary to allow stakeholders make inputs, stressing that employers and state governors who fail to utilize the opportunity should not deny that they were part of the process.
Meanwhile, during the public hearing the Kogi State government expressed its readiness to implement whatever amount was agreed as the new minimum wage.
The state governor, Yahaya Bello, who was represented by his deputy, Elder Simon Achuba, stated that the state government looked forward to an acceptable and implementable minimum wage.
He however urged the federal government to increase the distributable amount of the Federation Account to all tiers of government especially the states and local governments.
He said, “That is why we will continue to require the special assistance of the federal government for greater impact. To this end, we wish to commend the efforts of the federal government in assisting states with funds to settle their financial obligations to workers. This has greatly given respite to the states.
Meanwhile, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has said Nigerian workers will fare better when states are allowed to fix their own minimum wages according to their financial capacities to pay.
Wike, who disclosed this yesterday in Port Harcourt while speaking at a public hearing on the new national minimum wage for Nigeria workers for the South-South geopolitical zone, stated that states vary in financial capacity, making a uniform minimum wage unrealistic.