DAILY FILE, ABUJA – Governors of the 36 states of the federation have said times are hard, explaining why they cannot pay N30,000 national minimum wage now.
They also debunked insinuations by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), that they are unwilling to pay the N30,000 national minimum wage as demanded it.
Head, Media and Public Affairs, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) secretariat, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, in a statement reacting to an interview granted by NLC’s Secretary General, Peter Eson, described the statement as not only mischievous, but misleading and in bad faith.
He explained that the governors had repeatedly said they were unable to pay N30,000 emphasising that N22,500 was a “baseline threshold,” meaning that any governor who could pay more than N22,500 was therefore free to go ahead and do so.
According to the Bello-Barkindo, the report “Minimum Wage: NLC wants governors who diverted bailouts probed,” is a needless attempt by the leadership of Labour to steer the public away from the promise by President Muhammadu Buhari to constitute another committee to review the minimum wage gridlock.
“Governors have collectively made it abundantly clear that they would have been happy to pay workers the N30,000, but times are hard and because of financial constraints and other limitations, many states cannot afford it for now.
“The NGF had offered workers a token increment to the sum of N22,500 from the current N18,000 after the submission of the report of the Tripartite Committee set up by the president and headed by a retired Head of Service, Ms. Amal Pepple, on October 6.
“The N22,500 was arrived at, after extensive deliberations among all 36 governors, outlining their financial capacities and liquidity, considering the economic situation of the country and the states’ other obligations to the majority of the people of their various domains.
“Governors also emphasised that N22,500 is a “baseline threshold,” meaning that any governor who can pay more than N22,500 is therefore free to go ahead and do so.
“Let it be known that governors have met the President twice on this matter and presented their books to buttress their point. First, a batch of state governors, led by the NGF Chairman, Governor Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar of Zamfara State, in company of Govs Ambode of Lagos, Ugwuanyi of Enugu and Bagudu of Kebbi, attended a closed-door meeting with the President where the financial standing of six states, one each from all the geo-political regions in the country, were shown to the president, after which, Mr. President requested all the states to forward their books, their revenues, both internally-generated and their earnings from the Federation Account along with their other sources of revenue, for examination. The president appears satisfied with the governors’ position, thus the decision to set up a new committee.
“It is important to add that, there has never been a time in this country, when states have embarked on a more aggressive revenue drive than they are doing today. And this is without exception or prejudice to any state.
“To put the records straight, governors are not under any obligation, by law, to show their books to the NLC. But they have, in their pursuit of the understanding of the union, done so, not once, but several times over, with a view to letting NLC know that what they are asking for is neither realistic nor sustainable. Yet, NLC remains adamant that it’s will must be done, or the heavens will fall”
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