Despite strong resistance from Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state and Governor Nyesome Wike of Rivers state, there are strong indications that the Nigerian governors may have finalize plans to reduce the federal minimum wage of N18,000 or downsize because of the current economic crisis, Premium Times reports.
Speaking to newsmen after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House Abuja, on Thursday, December 3, Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara state, the chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum said that irrespective of public criticisms of the plan, it would not be economically possible to retain the same workforce and pay same amount of money.
According to Governor Yari, funds allocated from the Federation Account could no longer sustain the expenses of the state as the internally generated revenue was still below par in some states.
Yari said: “Let me make it very clear to Nigerians, governor’s forum is not the enemy of labour in any way. Rather, we have been working together. But what we are saying, (because not only Gov. Wike but also my friend in the comradeship, Adams Oshiomhole, kicked against the decision).
“What we said is that when the National Assembly enacted the law of paying N18, 000 minimum wage, then the oil was about $118 per barrel and today where we are oil is $41 per barrel.
“So, if it continues like that definitely we will find it difficult to continue. We have to sit down with the labour and see how we can review; either continue or downsizing, or see what we are going to do.
“We want to find a solution because we have to be realistic that we have so many things to touch. There is infrastructure deficit, there is need for security, there are other things like social lives of our people and nation as a state.
“From the federation account, some states received N400 million, N500 million while others received N55 million.
“And there are other issues, not even the salary, their pension is over a billion. So, how can we continue borrowing and servicing the service aspect of our expenditure, or overhead. How can we do that?
“We are telling the public that we are planning to sit down with the president and his team and the state governors as a team and the experts to come out with the way forward and how we are going to handle the poor state of the economy in the country.
“But what we have on ground now will not be realistic if it continues the way it is without having other sources from the economy and still relying on oil that is being sold for $118 dollar per barrel and now down to $41 and think that we can continue behaving or misbehaving the way we are doing, if there is anything like that.”
However, the position of the Nigerian governors opposes that of Governor Nyesom Wike who had earlier declared that the state government will not be a party to the reduction of the minimum wage for workers.
Speaking at the government House, Port Harcourt on Wednesday, December 2, when he granted audience to Alhaji Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, the national chairman of Labour Party, Wike said that his government will continue to pay salaries of workers regularly because the multiple effect was critical to social stability, Daily Post reports.
He said: “Rivers state will not be a party to the reduction of the minimum wage. Rivers state will not reduce the minimum wage.
“The state government will continue to pay the salaries of workers because we believe that the worker deserves his wage.”
Wike noted that his administration was committed to workers’ welfare and that was why it cleared outstanding three months salaries owed workers upon assumption of duty on May 29, 2015.
He added that the state government also paid the six months pension arrears it inherited.
According to him, government at all levels should work towards addressing the numerous development challenges facing the nation rather than reduce the minimum wage
He said: “We must tackle our problems and stop playing games with the challenges facing our people.”
Governors had two weeks ago declared that they could no longer cope with the N18, 000 minimum wage. The pronouncement caused a stir as Nigerians kicked against it.