Some members of the House of Representatives have reportedly disagreed over a bill that would enable individual State pay the amount of wages they are capable of paying and not the one enforced by the Federal Government.
According to reports, the Federal Government have the powers to determine the national minimum wage for workers across the three tiers of government in Nigeria.
Reports had it that it was after a prolonged negotiations between the workers, employers and the government, that the President, Muhammadu Buhari, in 2019 forwarded an executive bill to the National Assembly for amendment of the National Minimum Wage Act and the signed bill was passed into law in April 2019, raising the minimum wage from N18,000 to N30,000.
And some states have, however, been unable to pay the new wage.
According to reports, the sponsor of the bill, Mr Garba Datti Muhammad said,
“The resources available to the states also differ and while some states may be able to afford the national minimum wage, others may not. Within the states, the resources available to the local government councils also vary but they are also subjected to the national minimum wage”.
Stressing further, he said “The Governor of Ebonyi State (Dave Umahi) alleged that the local governments would need to borrow N1bn to service salaries while some states allege that they would spend 100 per cent of their earnings to pay salaries”.
He revealed that, “Under the independence and 1963 Constitutions, prescription of minimum wage was a concurrent matter to be legislated upon by both the federal parliament and the states. This decentralisation of the prescription of the minimum wage does not shut the door on labour from negotiating. What it means is that labour will have to negotiate with each state to ensure that the minimum wage in each state is reasonable in the circumstances of that state”
However, the Deputy Speaker, Wase, described the proposal as anti-masses and anti-workers, urging the lawmakers to vote against it.
The Deputy Speaker made it known that states should not be allowed to determine the minimum wage, because most states will take advantage of the situation to pay the workers’ wages that will not take care of their interest. He added that those States that even have resources to pay, have refused to pay the workers.
Aminu Suleiman who is the Chairman of the House Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND, also revealed that governors and state governments would abuse the proposed law. He made it known that States that are not paying the new minimum wage have the capacity to do so but waste resources by refusing to prioritise their projects.
He concluded that, “If we pass this law, we will be giving states the latitude to whatever they want. We should have the security of the workers at heart”.