President Muhammadu Buhari has indicated that the planned national minimum wage will be implemented in phases. He dropped this hint during the the inauguration of the Technical Advisory Committee on the Implementation of a New National Minimum Wage on Wednesday. The committee is headed by Bismarck Rewane, an economist and financial expert and has other members, who are experienced economists and administrators from the private and some government officials.
Buhari said workers earning more than N30,000, the proposed new minimum wage, would have their pay rise renegotiated while the expected increases for those currently earning below the minimum wages have been included in the 2019 budget
“As you know at the federal level, we have made adequate provision for the increase in the minimum wage in our Budget 2019 proposals which we submitted to the National Assembly. Therefore, we will be able to meet the additional costs that will be incurred in moving up all personnel who are currently earning below the new minimum wage.”
“However, we anticipate that after the new minimum wage has been passed into law, we will be going into negotiations for salary review for all the workers who are already earning above the new minimum wage. It is therefore important that we are properly prepared to meet these demands,” he said.
However, the panel, which was inaugurated on Wednesday, has been described by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), as “purely an internal arrangement of the Federal Government.”
Ayuba Wabba, NLC’s President Wabba said that the government promised Labour to put in place processes of mobilising resources, adding that Labour had thought that the committee will renegotiate the minimum wage, “but we’re assured that it has nothing to do with that.”
He said Dr. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour & Employment, has assured Labour that the committee was an in-house affair of the government and has nothing to do with Labour. The government and organised Labour had agreed that a New National Minimum Wage Bill will be sent to the National Assembly on or before January 23.
The unions are demanding N30, 000 for the least paid worker. But the state governors are willing to pay N22, 500 and the Federal Government is offering N24, 000.
During the panel’s innaguration, Buhari said it was evident that a review of the national minimum wage was necessary, despite the prevailing fiscal challenges as it was last reviewed in 2011.
“This is why I constituted the Tripartite Committee of government (federal and states), the Organised Private Sector (OPS) and Labour to consider the national minimum wage and make recommendations to the government for its upward review.
“That committee has since submitted its report with some recommendations. We are currently working on the final steps that will lead to the submission of a National Minimum Wage Amendment Bill to the National Assembly.
“I want to make it clear that there is no question about whether the National Minimum Wage will be reviewed upwards. I am committed to a review of the Minimum Wage,” Buhari said.
He explained that the federal government has been meeting with the state governors because it is imperative that the Federal Government carries the state governments along in determining any upward review of the minimum wage for workers. He said the government is exploring ways of implementing the consequential wage adjustments in a manner that they do not have adverse effects on the national development plans, as laid out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). The ERGP sets appropriate targets for levels of capital expenditure, public debt, inflation and employment among others.
“It is absolutely important that the implementation of a new minimum wage does not adversely affect these targets, and thereby erode the envisaged gains for the workers.
“It is against this background that I have set up a Technical Committee to advise the government on how best to fund, in a sustained manner, the additional costs that will arise from the implementation of the consequential increases in salaries and allowances for workers currently earning above the new minimum wage, ” he said.
The committee is to advise the government on how to successfully bring about a smooth implementation of impending wage increases and identify new revenue sources, and areas of existing expenditure from where some savings could be made in order to fund the wage increases without adversely impacting the nation’s development goals as set out in the ERGP.
It is also to “propose a work plan and modalities for the implementation of the salary increases, any other suggestions that will assist in the implementation of this, and future wage increases.”
Members of the innagurated technical committee have a month to complete their task and summit the report and recommendations to government.
Other members are: Babatunde Fowler, Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS); Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru, ex-FIRS Chairman; Richard Egbule, Chairman, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission; Mrs. Didi Walson-Jack; Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare Office of the Head of Service of the Federation; and Ben Akabueze, Director General, Budget Office, who is the secretary of the committee,.
Others include: a representative of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF); Olusegun Adekunle; Permanent Secretary Permanent Secretary, General Service Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF); Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance; Olajide Odewale, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and National Planning; Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Mr. Dayo Apata, Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice.
The other members are: Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu, Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Office of the Vice President; Dr. Joseph Nnanna, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Economic Policy; Ahmed Idris, Accountant-General of the Federation; Ms. Patience Oniaga, Director-General, Debt Management Officer; Dr. Folarin Gbadebo-Smith, Director-General, National Institute of Social and Economic Research; Dr. Yemi Kale, Statistician-General, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS); Dr Ayo Teriba, Prof. Akpan Ekpo, Mrs. Aisha Hamad, Mamman Garba and Tunde Lawal.
Also reacting, General Secretary of the National Union of Textiles, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, Issa Aremu, said the committee should facilitate the full implementation of the negotiated N30,000 and not in any way undermine the implementation of the new minimum wage.