The Nigerian Governors Forum had a meeting in Abuja yesterday to deliberate on the N30, 000 minimum wage being demanded by the NLC.
After the meeting, the governors said that the only way they can afford the N30,000 minimum wage is to downsize the civil service. According to them, they cannot afford to pay that amount with their current meager revenue allocation.
Speaking to newsmen after the meeting, the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, said that a committee will be put out to meet with President Buhari to discuss the need for an increase in state revenue allocations .
“Following a meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum where we deliberated on the national minimum wage, governors resolved to re-strategise and put together another committee to meet with the President once again, to work out another formula towards quickly resolving the problem associated with the proposed N30.000 minimum wage which is impracticable unless labour agrees to a downsizing of the workforce all over the country or the Federal Government itself accedes to the review of the national revenue allocation formula. Members of the committee who were nominated to see the President include the governors of Lagos, Kebbi, Plateau, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi. Enugu and Kaduna.” he said
Governor Yari said that he and his colleagues had seen the report of the Tripartite Committee report presented to President Muhammadu Buhari. The report suggested N30, 000 minimum wage. President Buhari last week received the report and said he will study it and advice the national assembly members accordingly.
Governor Yari said that the committee did not consider the submission of the governors who had earlier said they could only afford to pay N22, 500 as minimum wage.
“We have seen what has been presented to the President by the (Tripartite) Committee. As a member of the committee, our representative there said the committee did not take our submission of N22,500 because it came late. I am surprised. How can you do this without the input of the states because the states are the key stakeholders in this business. So, a situation whereby our report was not taken or considered by the Tripartite Committee … then I don’t know how the committee wants us to work.” he said
According to Governor Yari, the state governors really want to pay the N30,`000 but are currently constrained by their meager revenue.
”We still say we want to pay, but the issue is the ability to pay. If we say no, it is not about the ability to pay, just pay, I don’t know how this formulae will work and I don’t know how we can get a solution to the issue.We are paying N18,000 (as minimum wage today), but when the President assumed office, about 27 states were not able to pay, not that they chose not to pay. So, now you say N30,000, how many of them can pay? We will be bankrupt (if we pay). So as Nigerians, we should look at the issues seriously. While other people are saying that governors are riding jets and living in affluence, that one is not luxury but compulsory. Like Lagos that is paying about N7bn as salaries; if you say it should pay N30,000, now it will be N13bn. From our calculation, it is only Lagos State that will be able to pay N30,000. As Nigerians, this is our country; there is no other country we have and we should be fair to this country.”
Speaking further, Governor Yari said
“As for the way forward, we will continue to talk with Labour. Let them see reasons and difficulties some of us have. For instance, the money Lagos State is using to pay is not coming from Abuja. They have a way of getting their money from the IGR and that is why they can afford to pay. They get money through VAT (as well). Apart from Lagos, even Rivers State cannot afford to pay. So we have been crying out about this since 2011 but no one will listen.
“One critical example is that some states ration their salaries while some others put everything they earn on the table and ask labour to come and see and ask them to suggest how much should go for capital and personnel costs. Some say 70 per cent for personnel cost and 30 per cent for capital projects and yet the states cannot pay and they put the remaining as outstanding.”