President Muhammadu Buhari and eight state governors met yesterday in Abuja to address the impasse over the N30,000 minimum wage allegedly endorsed by the president to avert the national strike which organised labour had slated for November 6, 2018.
The governors are members of the committee raised by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) to liaise with the president on the new minimum wage saga.
The governors are those of Lagos, Kebbi, Plateau, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Enugu and Kaduna states.
After the meeting which was attended by the minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige and governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, who is the chairman of NGF, they declined to give details on the outcome of the parley.
Even Yari and presidency officials who had earlier promised to speak with State House correspondents before the meeting started kept mum.
Before the meeting started, the President’s Media Office, which had promised to brief reporters on its outcome, kept mum after it and did not issue any official statement at the time of filing this report last night.
The development, made some stakeholders to conclude that the meeting was deadlocked.
They hinged their speculations on the fact that all the governors wore long faces when they emerged from the talks with Buhari.
Sources however disclosed that the President told them that he was still studying the report of the tripartite committee which proposed N30,000 as the new national pay. The state chief executives have insisted that they cannot pay more than N22,500 without embarking on mass sack of workers.
Govs’ Meeting Not Our Business – Labour
In a swift reaction to the meeting, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday said that it would not interfere with what the governors are doing, because the workers’ concern remains the quick passage of N30,000 Minimum Wage Bill.
NLC general secretary, Peter Eson-Ezon, told LEADERSHIP last night that the tripartite committee had completed its work and submitted N30,000 as its recommendation.
According to him, the governors are just one leg of the tripartite panel, which includes labour and the organized private sector.
Eson-Ezon said that the governors alone can therefore not take any action on behalf of the committee.
He said: “We are not aware of their meeting with Mr. President. Whatever they are doing is their business. We would not get involved.
“On our part, what we expect is from Mr. President to quickly put an executive bill and sent it to the National Assembly for the passage of the new minimum wage,” he said.
At an emergency meeting last week, the governors described N30,000 proposal as impracticable.
The tripartite committee set up by the federal government to review the minimum wage submitted its report to President Buhari two weeks ago and recommended N30,000 as the new minimum wage.
But, in its communiqué after an emergency meeting last Wednesday in Abuja, the NGF resolved to set up another committee to meet with the president again to work out another new minimum wage.
The governors gave conditions under which they could consider the new minimum wage as downsizing their workforce or the federal government reviewed upward the current revenue allocation formula.
The communiqué read in part: “Following a meeting of the Nigeria Governors Forum where we deliberated on the national minimum wage, governors resolved to restrategise and put together another committee to meet with the president once again to work out another formula.
“Towards quickly resolving the problem associated with the proposed N30,000 minimum wage which is impracticable unless labour agrees to a downsizing of the workforce all over the country or the federal government itself accedes to the review of the national revenue allocation formula.”