-Kogi ready to implement New Minimum Wage – Bello
By Appolos Christian
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has asked both Federal and States governments to block all the lickages through which public funds are stolen in order to have enough resources to pay workers a new minimum wage.
NLC president, Ayuba Wabba stated this during the public hearing on minimum wage held over the weekend in Lokoja, organised by the tripartite committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to negotiate a new minimum wage.
In his presentation, NLC president Wabba faulted claims by some governors that they lack resources to implement a new minimum wage, giving the current economic challenges.
The NLC president said the issue of non payment of salary is not about lack of resources, but rather about mismanagement of available resources.
He said, “there is no way we can wish away the inflation eaten away the value of N18,000. There is no way we can wishes away the high cost of food and services. These are the realities. Therefore, if there is the will, there will also be a way.
“if we are able to reduce the fundamental corruption in our system where the elite see political office as an avenue to accumulate wealth, we can have more than enough to service the poor and implement a new minimum wage
“If they reduce what they are stealing, there will be enough to pay workers. In fact some people even stole their share of bailout. To say that because of resources, the workers should continue to be impoverished is unacceptable. Any political class that tries to advance that, we will be ready for them. It is all about good governance
He said the country cannot wish away the consequences of having a poll of working poor.
Meanwhile, the Kogi state government during the public hearing expressed it’s readiness to implement whatever amount is agreed as the new minimum wage.
The state governor, Yahaya Bello who was represented by his deputy, Elder Simon Achuba stated that the state government however looks forward to an acceptable and implementable minimum wage.
He however urged the Federal Government to increase the distributable amount of the Federation Account to all tiers of government especially the States and Local Governments.
He said, “We want to reiterate that Kogi State Government will always support the efforts of the Federal Government at alleviating and ameliorating the deplorable conditions of service of workers through enhanced salary packages. It is a statutory responsibility we intend to fulfil with zeal and commitment. In this regard, we enjoin the Federal Government, States, organised labour, and private sector to work together to arrive at a workable and implementable National Minimum Wage.
Bello commended the public hearing, saying it is capable of providing the committee with the opportunity of assessing the problems confronting the Public Service in each state in terms of resource utilization and limitation with a view to identifying areas of Federal Government intervention.
He lamented that huge fanancial debt and backlog of unpaid salaries inherited from the previous government has been a major burden on his administration.
He said, “That is why we will continue to require the special assistance of the Federal Government for greater impact. To this end, we wish to commend the efforts of the Federal Government in assisting states with funds to settle their financial obligations to workers. This has greatly given respite to the states.
However, in view of the enormous burden of the obligation occasioned by huge and accumulated debts, we wish to appeal to the Federal Government to consider granting such relief regular intervals to enable states meet their obligation to workers in particular.”
Meanwhile during its presentation, the Plateau state government represented by the Permanent secretary, Ministry of Establishment, Mr Patrick Dambe said due to shortfall in revenue accruing to the state, often times, the state has to borrow to pay salaries and pension
He said the the a made submission of three proposals to the committee which includes payment of either N25,000; N30,000 and N57,000
He however said this will greatly affect the wage bill of the state government which is over N2.6 billion and will require an increment of the monthly Federal allocation to the state government to at least a minimum of N1.5 billion and N4.5 billion as well as an increase of the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to N1.5 billion
He said the other option will be for the state government to downsize it workforce.
He said, “unless there is correspondents increase of federal allocation and IGR in the state, we may not be able to pay new minimum wage as being contemplated.”