Against the backdrop of the controversies on the new minimum wage in the country, Abia State governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has thrown his weight behind the agitation of workers for an improved minimum wage even as he added that they deserve more than the new minimum wage.
The governor, who revealed that before the current agitation for the N30,000 minimum wage, Abia State had been paying higher than the official N18,000 minimum wage, declared that the state government was ready to fix a new minimum wage in consultation with Abia workers.
Ikpeazu, who spoke during a parley with journalists in Abuja yesterday, noted that beyond agitation for salary increment, workers also need to strive to improve their efficiency at work place and their personal development through continuous training and capacity building.
“I think that the agitations of the workers for an enhanced minimum salary is legitimate. I think it’s legitimate. I think it’s a call for all those who are in positions of authority, who manage resources on behalf of people to be more a little bit innovative in thinking and finding a way to deal with wage issues.
“But beyond wage issues, I think the worker deserves a little more. Capacity building, training, enhancing your skills at work and making yourself a better person, hands-on on what you do is even far more important than talking about salary. I dream about a day when workers would start to think about enhancing their efficiency at work and all that,” Ikpeazu said.
On the issue of a new minimum wage for workers in Abia State, the governor said: “The wage that Abia will pay will certainly not be the least in the country. But I will leave that decision to a time when myself and my workers would sit down after the federal government would have ended its discussion.”
“As a sub-national government, we would agree on what to pay – be it higher than what the national average is or at the point of national average will be a decision I and my workers in Abia will take.
“We have a glaring example of paying a little bit more than what the national has been paying in these last three years but I don’t know what it’s going to be now but we will speak to ourselves and take a decision when the time comes,” he added.