State governors on Wednesday rose from their meeting in Abuja and restated their inability to pay the N30,000 new minimum wage recommended by the National Minimum Wage Committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to review the N18,000 figure, which organised labour said had become inadequate and legally outdated.
They said the states would go bankrupt if forced to pay the new wage, warning that it might lead to retrenchment of workers.
In the alternative, they proposed that the federal government shed some of its revenue in favour of the states so they could be able to absorb the financial implication of the impending increased wage bill.
But labour would have none of it as it said last night that any governor, who could not afford the new figure, should resign or risk an industrial action.
The governors, under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at their meeting last night in Abuja, frowned on the action of the tripartite committee, which it said failed to include their N22,500 submission in the final report sent to the president.
As a way forward, the governors raised a committee made up of eight of their colleagues to meet the president to further discuss the issue.
Members of the committee, nominated to see the president include, the governors of Lagos, Kebbi, Plateau, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Enugu and Kaduna States.
Addressing journalists after their meeting last night in Abuja, Zamfara State Governor and Chairman of NGF, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, said asking states to pay N30,000 was impracticable unless labour would agree to a downsizing of the work-force all over the country or the federal government itself accedes to the review of the national revenue allocation formula.
Yari said the governors were not happy that their offer of N22,500 as new minimum wage was not factored into the final report the tripartite committee submitted to Buhari.
He said, “With N18,000, when the president assumed office about 27 states were not able to pay, not that they choose not to pay. So now you say N30,000, how many of them can pay. We will be bankrupt. So as Nigerians, we should look at the issues seriously.”
Yari said that a member of the committee and Governor of Kebbi, Alhaji Abubakar Bagudu, had informed the governors that the committee did not take their submission of N22,500 because it came late.
“I am surprised, how can you do this without the input of the states? The states are the key stakeholders in this business. So, a situation whereby our report is not taken or considered by the tripartite committee to present to the president then I don’t know how the committee wants us to work,” he said.
The Zamfara State governor also countered the insinuation that some governors were flying jets and living in affluence while complaining about poor revenue, saying that the governors’ actions are driven by necessity rather than bogus lifestyle.
Yari, who was flanked by Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, their Benue State counterpart, Dr. Samuel Ortom, said as things stood, only Lagos State could afford to pay the N30,000 being requested.
He said, “But we still say we want to pay but the issue is the ability to pay. If you say no, it is not about the ability to pay, just pay, I don’t know how this formula will work and I don’t know how we can get solution to the problem.
“The issue of government overhead cost put together with personnel cost cannot solve this problem. Like Lagos that is paying about N7billion as salaries, if you say it should pay N30,000 now, it will be N13 billion. From our calculation, it is only Lagos State that will be able to pay N30,000.
Govs Adamant, Say N30,000 Minimum Wage Will Make States Go Bankrupt