President Muhammadu Buhari recently inaugurated a 30-member tripartite National Minimum Wage Committee for the negotiation of a new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers. The President said the inauguration of the committee followed the recommendation of a technical committee put in place after the increase in price of petrol in 2016.
He also said the current minimum wage being used in the country had already expired. (It was supposed to be reviewed every five years). After the completion of the work of the committee, an executive bill would be sent to the National Assembly “to undergo scrutiny before passed to law.”
However,House of Representatives member from Ekiti State, Hon Kehinde Agboola, has said the proposed salary increase for Nigerian workers by the Federal Government is not feasible, saying such provision was not captured by the 2018 budget.
Agboola, who is the Vice Chairman, House Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, said the planned salary increase was a mere deception being contrived by the All Progressives Congress –led government to cajole Nigerians ahead of 2019 election.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chieftain who stated this in Odo Oro Ekiti in Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State while speaking with newsmen said there was no way the president could effect salary increase without budgetary provision for it.
The committee has a former Head of Service and Minister of Housing, Ama Pepple, as chairperson, while the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, will serve as deputy chairman. The Chairman, National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, Richard Egbule, will serve as the secretary of the committee.
Nigeria joined the league of International Labour Organisation (ILO)member countries that set minimum wage for their workers in 1981. The last time a minimum wage was set before the current one being reviewed was in 2000 with effect from May 1, 2001. Then, the wage was set at a paltry N5,500. It took 10 years to have this benchmark reviewed through a collective bargaining mechanism.
The NLC said the union made a demand for wage increase in 2009 after a thorough study of the salaries of political office holders’ pre-and post-consolidation, as well as a careful examination of the minimum annual wage levels in African countries. The study showed that Nigerian workers were among the least remunerated in the world.
There is no gainsaying that with the astronomic rise in the cost of living, Nigerian workers are right to demand wage increase.
Nigerian workers are demanding N56, 000 new minimum wage. Is this realizable given the current comatose economy where the extant N18,000 minimum wage is not paid as at when due? Many states are owing their workers salaries despite bailout funds and Paris fund disbursement.
Workers are also worried about the delay in the process of establishing a new minimum wage.The last exercise took about two years to conclude. How long will the current effort take before a new minimum wage comes into force? Is there a genuine intention on the part of the current administration to upwardly review the workers’ minimum wage or just a political statement? Time will tell as Nigerian workers hope for a better deal come 2018.