BY JONATHAN NDA-ISAIAH and BAYO AMODU,
The Federal Executive Council yesterday approved a 29-member national minimum wage committee to negotiate with labour unions and work out a new minimum wage for workers in the country.
Labour Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige, announced this at the end of the FEC meeting chaired by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
He said members of the committee will be drawn from the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Organised Private Sector and, the Nigerian Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress.
Labour had tabled a minimum wage of N50,000, almost three times more than the present N18,000 being paid with difficulties by many states.
On Friday, Ngige had said FEC would review the report of the joint committee on the national minimum wage.
He said the 16- man technical committee on minimum wage and palliatives had submitted its report to the main committee headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
He said, “The report was adopted just last week by the 29 -man joint committee. Now the report is now being taken to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval next week (this week) and then the Acting President will constitute a National Minimum Wage Review Committee.
“This National Minimum Wage Review Committee will then fix a new minimum wage for the country. It has become imperative for a new minimum wage because the last minimum wage has a life span of five years. It was signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan and it elapsed by August 2016”.
The minister stressed that since the issue of minimum wage was a constitutional issue, all stakeholders would be involved in the final discussions.
“So, it is a law that it would have a national application for both those in the private sector and those in the public sector. So the implementation of the national minimum wage is not only for the Federal Government alone”, he added.
Ngige said the private sector, employers of labour, government and governors, among others would be involved in the discussion. “We must all sit together and come out with an acceptable agreement”, he said.
Meanwhile, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo disclosed yesterday that Nigeria’s civil service is not only the greatest in Africa but also the most educated on the continent.
Osinbajo said this during an interactive session with public and civil servants on effective implementation of the recently signed executive orders in Abuja yesterday.
He said there was need for the workers to always work hard towards sustaining the nation’s economy.
While urging them to remain committed to their work, the acting president said that nations around the world are made great through the hard work of their citizens.
He also told the workers to ensure that they minimise postponement of matters that could be handled immediately “as this could have a direct and indirect effect on the masses.
“It is important we understand that great nations and economies around the world are created by men and women not spirits. It is the hard work of men and women all over the world that make nations great. And Nigeria’s civil service is not just the greatest but the most educated in Africa”, he said.
Osinbajo also said that the federal government “understands how important it is” to pay workers their salaries and as such, will ensure workers are adequately paid.
“The president has been a salary earner all his life. So, he understands very well how important it is to pay salaries and will always see to that”, he said.
He also said Nigeria’s economy will not grow by fasting and prayer but by the collective effort of all citizens, even as he urges the civil servants to be the drivers of transparency and efficiency in doing business in the country.
On the background of the three executive orders he signed last Thursday, he said, “Every time we postpone processes of businesses, we delay the prosperity of many. If you help others move forward you will find help. Don’t see this as a government policy but a personal policy”.
He also disclosed that there would be an extensive communication network between the government and the MDAs to ensure that the orders were fully complied with.
Osinbajo continued: “We are going to need extensive customer care, call centres, feedback mechanism a lot of work is already going on between SERVICOM and I suspect that each ministry, department and agency will have to take responsibility.
“No matter how long we pray and fast, our nation won’t grow until some of us decide to do the hard work that will make our nation work”.
He urged civil servants to be diligent in carrying out their duties, adding that “every time we say come back next week for something we could do today, we postpone the prosperity of that person and the nation”.
Similarly, the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs Winfred Oyo-Ita, has said the federal government was committed to payment of the outstanding salary arrears and allowances of public servants in the country.
Disclosing this at the interactive session, Oyo-Ita said just as government had commenced the completion of abandoned projects; it was equally committed to paying the outstanding arrears of public servants.
She added that Ministries of Finance, Budget and National Planning and Office of the Head of Service were working on strategy toward payment of all outstanding arrears of public servants.
She said, “The greater percentage of the arrears have been accumulated many years before this administration comes to power barely two years ago.
“However, government is committed to the payment in appreciation with the fact that government is a continuum and that the public service deserves a reward”
HoS said the interaction with the Acting President was to sensitise the public servants who would be directly involved in implementation of executive orders 001 to 003 of 2017.