Showdown appeared inevitable as governors yesterday offered to pay N22,500 instead of the N30,000 demanded by Organised Labour as the new national minimum wage.
READ ALSO: New Minimum Wage: Who will blink first?
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Governor of Zamfara, Abdul’aziz Yari, who read the decision of the governors as contained in the communique at the end of the emergency meeting, last night, said the acceptable minimum wage must be done in such a way that total personnel cost does not exceed 50 percent of the revenue available to each state.
“The welfare of all Nigerians is our ultimate concern. In all our states, we are concerned about the deteriorating economic situation experienced by the vulnerable segment of our population.
“In agreeing to a national minimum wage, however, the Forum is even more concerned about development, particularly in the health, education and infrastructure spheres.
“It is therefore our considered position that since the percentage of salaried workers is not more than five percent of the total working population, our position must not just reflect a figure, but also a sustainable strategy based on ability and capacity to pay, as well as reflective of all our developmental needs in each state. “Afterall, Section 3 of the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission Act provides that ‘the Commission shall recommend a proposition of income growth which should be initiated for wage increase and also examined the salary structure in public and private sector with reasonable features of relativity and maximum levels which are in consonance with the national economy.’
“It is in this sense that we feel strongly that our acceptable minimum wage must be done in such a way that total personnel cost does not exceed 50 percent of the revenue available to each State.
“Governors therefore agreed to pay a national minimum wage of N22,500.”
However, Organised Labour comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC) has vowed not to accept anything less than N30,000.
The workers unions which took to the streets across the 36 states and Abuja, yesterday, to mobilise workers, ahead it planned industrial action billed to commence on November 6, accused the Federal Government of slowing down the process of enacting a law to back up new minimum wage for workers and governors of selfishness.
Apart from grounding the nation, organised labour also threatened to stop the 2019 elections from holding should the Federal Government fail to implement the N30,000 recommended by the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage.
The notice by the Labour centres to call out their members was taken on October 24 after the Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, said no agreement was reached on the figure of what the minimum wage would be.
The minister had said the Federal Government offered N24, 700 and governors N20,000 as minimum wage.
But the Organised Labour countered that the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage had since completed its assignment for onward submission of its report to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Organised Labour rally in Abuja, which took off from the Labour House at the Central Business Area, through Ministry of Finance, Federal Secretariat and terminated at the Villa gate was led by the President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba and other leaders of the two trade centres.
Tagged “National day of mourning and outrage”, the workers who carried placards with inscriptions such as “No minimum wage, No work from Nov. 6”, “Minimum wage of N30, 000 not negotiable”, “Minimum wage will boost Nigerian economy, “Upward review of minimum wage will not trigger inflation”, sang solidarity songs denouncing the roles of the labour minister.
Wabba frowned at the manipulation and bending of facts in an attempt to delay or derail the processes needed to promulgate a new national minimum wage act by the minister.
TUC President, Mr. Bobboi Kaigama, warned governments not to underrate the resolve of workers to fight for their rights, noting that implementation of the national minimum wage was imperative as workers in the country were faced with hard times.
Bayelsa Edo, Jigawa ready to pay
The governments of Bayelsa, Edo and Jigawa states have assured its civil servants of their willingness to pay the new minimum wage.
The Bayelsa State’s Head of Civil Service, Mr. Wellington Obiri, gave the assurance when he received leaders of organised labour after a peaceful protest to the Government House, Yenagoa.
Obiri said Governor Seriake Dickson had already directed a committee to work out modalities for implementing the new minimum wage.
Meanwhile, Governor Mr. Godwin Obaseki has assured Edo State workers that his administration would be the first to implement the resolution reached at the emergency meeting between the Federal Government and state governors over the new minimum wage for workers in the country.
Obaseki gave the assurance while addressing members of the organised labour who were on a protest march to the Government House, in Benin City to sensitise the people on the planned labour strike.
Similarly, Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, has promised Jigawa workers that he would implement fully any agreement reached with labour.
“As the discussion continue we keep our fingers crossed and hope that beautiful outcome will come after the meeting. I assure you whatever the outcome of the meeting
in Abuja, Jigawa will fully implement the decision of the governors.”
His statement was interrupted by thunderous applause from workers.
Chairman of NLC, Usman Ya’u had earlier commended Governor Badaru for prompt payment of salary, pension and gratuity.
He called on him to convince his other colleagues to agree to the proposed N30,000 as the national minimum wage in the country.
In Delta State, organised labour faulted Ngige’s claimed that state governments cannot pay N30,000.
Chairman of NLC, Jonathan Jemiriegbe while briefing Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, vowed that labour would shut down the nation’s economy if the Federal Government reneged on the agreement.
Jemiriegbe advised Nigerians to stock their homes, noting that the November 6 strike would be total and indefinite.
Okowa who was represented by the Chief of Staff, Mr. Tam Brisibe assured that Delta State Government is ready to pay any amount agreed upon as minimum wage.
The union in Nasarawa State has insisted that both federal and state governments have the capacity
to sustain N30,000 new minimum wage.
Secretary of NLC, Silas Acharm, who stated this yesterday in Lafia after the meeting of the state executive council of the organise labour, accused the governors of selfishness.
“The money to pay this new minimum wage and sustain it is there, but corruption among the governors is high. Nigeria is the richest country in Africa yet least in payment of workers salaries,” he said
‘No minimum wage, no 2019 election’
Lagos State was practically shut down as workers marched through the long stretch of Ikorodu roads.
The workers, singing and carrying placards commenced their march as early as 7 a.m. from Ojuelegba in the Surulere area through Onipanu, Anthony, Maryland before terminating at the Freedom park at Ojota.
Deputy President of NLC, Amechi Asugwuni said labour would do all it could to frustrate the 2019 election if the governments at all levels continued to take workers for a ride.
“Besides, we believe that any governor that cannot pay the new wage should resign and allow those that can pay take the mantle of leadership.”
According to Amechi, the minimum wage is a legitimate right for Nigerian workers.
Labour laud Fayemi’s commitment to workers welfare
Union leaders in Ekiti State have expressed confidence in the government of Dr. Kayode Fayemi to implement the N30,000 new national minimum wage when signed into law.
The state chairman, Prince Ade Adesanmi, warned that the nation would witness a major strike if the minimum wage was not signed into law, urged Fayemi to join others to prevail on the Federal Government to effect the new package.
Governor Fayemi who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, assured the workers that the state government was not only interested in increasing their wages, but also to promote friendly environment that would enhance their productivity.
Similarly, River State leader of the NLC, Beatrice Itubo, advised workers to prepare for the strike, which is in their interest. She said Nigerians should not see the protest as sudden, as ample notice had been given to members of the public preparatory to the march.
Kogi Workers In Street Protest
In Kogi State, hundreds of workers stormed the Government House, Lokoja, and submitted a letter to Governor Yahaya Bello for President Muhammadu Buhari urging hm to accede to the demand of labour.
Chairman of NLC, Onuh Edoka accused Ngige of frustrating efforts of labour, noting that the N30,000 being demanded was not enough to feed the dog of a top government functionary.
Governor Yahaya Bello, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja promised to pay four months salaries to staff of tertiary institutions and three months to other categories of workers from the proceed of the N15.1 billion Paris Club.
Workers to Enugu govt.: Prepare for new minimum wage
In Enugu, Labour said workers would no longer accept a pay chart other than the centrally prepared minimum wage.
Chairman of the NLC in the state, Mr. Virginus Nwobodo, said the implementation of the 2011 minimum wage in the state was a far cry from what was done in other states, adding that workers in the state were the least paid in the country.
He wondered why state governors live flamboyant lifestyles but toy with the welfare of the workforce.
Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.
President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.
Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.
At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.
He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.
He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.
“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’
“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.
“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.
“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.
“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.
“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”
However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.
He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.
“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”
CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers
The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, has blamed Christians in the National Assembly (NASS), for the passage of the 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Bill (CAMA), signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.
Bishop Onah, said in a remark during the Sunday Mass that if Christians in NASS had opposed the bill, it would not have been passed into law.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Aug. 7, signed the CAMA bill into law, giving provision for religious bodies and charity organizations to be regulated by the registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and a supervising minister.
“The question many Christians have been asking is, where were Christian legislators during the debate of this bill and its passage in the National Assembly?
“Because, if they had opposed this bill on the floor of the house, it would not have been passed and sent to the president for assent.
“I blame Christian legislators for doing nothing and allowing the passage of the 2020 CAMA Act,” he said.
“When I say that Christians are too divided and too selfish, don’t forget that the second in command in this country is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a professor of Law and a pastor.”
Onah, however, wondered what the Federal Government wanted to achieve in monitoring how the finances of churches in the country are managed when it contributed no dime to the church, NAN reports.
“Government should focus and monitor its ministries, agencies and other government institutions where it budgets billions of Naira annually and not church offerings.
“Had it been that the government gave allocations to churches and decided to monitor its usage, nobody will question the government,” he said.
Nigerians spit fire over fuel, electricity prices hike
Anger and condemnations, across the country, have continued to trail last week’s take off, of new increases in pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, as directed by Federal Government.
Recall that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) official, D.O. Abalaka announced on Wednesday September 3, on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the new price of petroleum is now N151.56k per litre instead of N149 – N150 per litre which it was previously.
The new electricity tariff which the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) tagged “Service Reflective Tariff” has also come into effect. It requires consumers to pay N53.87 – N66.422 per kwh of electricity.
Outraged consumers of fuel and electricity have therefore warned government to get ready for collision with the masses if it fails to rescind these new prices.
Those who have expressed outrage over the new prices regimes include, the Organized Labour, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).
Others are: Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA).
The NLC said, “The frequent fuel price increase will no longer be accepted. We will not allow Nigerians fall victim of government ineptitude and negligence to make the country self-sufficient in terms of refining petroleum products at home.”
On its part, the PDP has described the price hike as “callous, cruel and punishing” and demanded an immediate reversal to avert a national crisis.
The All Industrial Global sees the incessant increase as a confirmation that deregulation means just price increase.
“This is unacceptable! Under a pandemic, we should put money in the pockets of citizens to revive collapsed livelihoods and preserve lives.” In its reaction, NECA said it has always urged Federal Government to adopt deregulation policy in the oil and gas downstream sector.
The MOMAN in its statement insists that monthly price variation of fuel was no longer sustainable. It urged PPRA to adopt quarterly price mechanism which would save the market the hassles of price volatility. The statements by IPMAN and NACCIMA also followed along the same line that the hike “…serves only to increase the severity and duration of the looming economic recession.”
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