Tinubu Likely To Announce New Minimum Wage On May 1st

by Ohepo Ohepo

There are hints that President Bola Tinubu would declare the new minimum wage on May 1 in honor of International Labor Day and retroactively apply it to April.

In anticipation that the President would declare the new minimum wage in his Workers’ Day speech, Saturday PUNCH learned that the National Minimum Wage Committee was striving to make sure that all discussions on the new rate were concluded before then.

The minimum wage committee will meet again by next week, according to a committee member who talked to Saturday PUNCH under the condition of anonymity due to the delicate nature of the subject. The meeting is ongoing. All of the findings from the zonal public hearings will be compiled and reported at that meeting, which will also provide the committee with a working direction.

“Our goal is to make sure that the President declares the minimum wage before May 1st, Workers’ Day, so that it may begin in April. Thus, we’re trying to stick to the schedule.

Reminded that the N30,000 minimum pay in effect as of March 31 would expire, the committee member expressed doubt that the new rate would be available by then, noting that much work remained in determining an appropriate minimum salary for the nation.

“We haven’t reached the negotiation point yet,” the person said. Once the zones are complete, the main committee’s direction will be decided by adding up all of the information gathered from them. After we have completed the zones, the committee will compile all of the zone and committee member seats when it meets.

We’ll examine the stances taken by the government, TUC, NECA (the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association), and the NLC. After that, we’ll consider the total, calculate a percentage, and decide what would work.

“There will be some changes made. The committee will undoubtedly meet in private with Mr. President as well to discuss the committee’s financial situation and then with the governors of the individual states. We’ll see how we marry those viewpoints, and NECA will be involved as well. It is a multi-stop process.

As of the time this story was filed, Idris Mohammed, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, had not responded to texts or WhatsApp messages sent to his mobile number and had not returned calls.

Though he acknowledged that he was not familiar with the group’s internal discussions, Special Advisor to the President on Information and Strategy Bayo Onanuga claimed that discussions were still taking place among committee members, who were aware of the importance of their task.

Though normally the new wage should take effect on April 1, a presidential aide noted that Tinubu might not wait until May 1 to announce the new minimum wage if the committee was able to finish its assignment on time. The aide spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not the President’s official spokesperson.

The assistant remarked, “I don’t think the government can announce the minimum wage on May 1st. It is required by law to be finished by the beginning of April.

Why must they wait to make the announcement if all parties are in agreement? due to the fact that they are in negotiations and the law stipulates that talks must end by April.

Labor alerts the government

State governors have been forewarned by Organized Labor that when the new minimum wage becomes law, they will face opposition from the union, which is prepared to fight for complete implementation.

The National Minimum Wage Committee is gathering the reports of its public hearings in the several zones, and Labor is voicing its views at a time when the governors are requesting that the committee take into account the unique circumstances of each state in determining an appropriate amount.

The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress, the nation’s two labor organizations, have unitedly rejected the governors’ stance, stating that it will only lead to protracted industrial strife.

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum has encouraged the National Minimum Wage Committee to consider the current situation, the distinctive features of each state, and the implications for the ability of businesses in the public and private sectors to pay while deciding on the wage amount.

The NGF said in a statement made available to journalists on Thursday following its virtual meeting that it had reviewed the progress of the National Minimum Wage Committee and the ongoing multi-stakeholder engagements towards reaching a fair minimum wage. The statement was signed by the NGF’s Chairman, AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq, who is also the governor of Kwara State.

Members asked the NMWC to take into account the present circumstances, unique characteristics of each state, and ensuing effects on the ability of both public and private sector employers to make payments. Members also underlined how important it is that ideas be supported by evidence and facts.

The labor unions had previously claimed that the current N30,000 national minimum wage was no longer feasible, citing the sharp increase in inflation from 29.9% in January to 31.7% in February as evidence.

The Federal Government established a tripartite committee in January to discuss the national minimum wage.

The 37-member panel was officially opened in the Council Chamber of the State House in Abuja by Vice President Kashim Shettima.

The committee, which is made up of representatives from organized labor, the corporate sector, and the federal and state governments, has been tasked with coming up with a new national minimum wage proposal.

Workers in the North-West requested N485,000; in the North-East, N560,000; in the North-Central, N709,000 (NLC) and N447,000 (TUC); in the South-West, N794,000; in the South-South, N850,000; and in the South-East, N540,000 by the NLC and N447,000 by the TUC, during zonal public hearings held in Lagos, Kano, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, and Abuja.

The state administrations of Bauchi and Adamawa, however, proposed N45,00 as the new minimum wage.

Governors would be breaching the law, according to the NLC on Friday, if they fail to enact the new minimum wage when it becomes a law.

The Congress further stated that it was making efforts to guarantee that these governors will face harsher penalties.

The NLC spokesperson, Benson Upah, stated in an exclusive interview with Saturday PUNCH in Abuja that although the federal government had never failed to pay minimum salaries, governors had never lived up to the expectation.

Upah declared, “As the new minimum wage will be a federal statute, any state that refuses to pay it will be in violation of the law. The governors who have refused to pay the current minimum salary of N30,000 are in violation of the law because it was established voluntarily.

Making ensuring there are adequate punishments is one of the goals we are attempting to accomplish with the current talks. We’re going to make sure the penalties are severe enough to discourage governors with such criminal intentions. Regarding the minimum wage, the federal government has been following through. We genuinely cannot remember a circumstance where the federal government failed to pay the minimum wage.

“Defiant governors have historically presented challenges, and their numbers have been in the minority.”

Similarly, the TUC said that the governors’ use of divide-and-rule tactics to thwart the payment of living wages to workers was unacceptable. It further stated that since state governments now had more money after the removal of fuel subsidies, they had no justification for setting the minimum wage at whatever level was decided upon.

State governors and private sector companies that fail to pay the agreed amount would face sanctions under the new minimum wage law being worked on, according to Dr. Tommy Etim, Deputy President of the TUC, who spoke with one of our correspondents.

“Let me tell you that there will be those penalties and that the Act will be amended to account for all those excesses,” he stated. Without a doubt, the Act will be changed to recognize the exclusion, the fines, and the enforcement for any governor who chooses to be uncooperative, as well as labor employers who choose to be uncooperative in enforcing the minimum wage.

“The bottom fact is that implementation is intended to happen automatically as soon as the President signs the Minimum Wage Act. The employer that hires you knows that he will pay you, therefore we don’t need to tell anyone to take the appropriate action. It’s akin to instructing a pope on how to make Holy Communion to demand payment from employers.

Yes, some governors were unable to pay the N30,000 minimum wage back then, but that was then, not now. It follows that the Act was ineffective if they were unable to pay the N30,000 minimum salary.

“They (the governors) are getting enough money from the removal of fuel subsidy to pay,” Etim continued. I want no one to bring up the possibility that certain governors might object to paying the new minimum wage when it is announced. The governors’ increased revenue as a result of the elimination of the gasoline subsidy accounts for their ability to pay.

“You are aware that in 2019, the N30,000 mark was popular, and the majority of people could still live comfortably. However, in this instance, have you looked at the current fuel prices per litre, the cost of cooking gas, the cost of bread, and the cost of transportation? We are thus getting ready for them to shelter under that presumption if someone discusses the state governors’ financial capacity.

The deputy president of the TUC continued, saying that the governors could no longer make excuses.

He stated that the TUC’s stance on a new minimum wage had been clearly stated and was tenable in all of the zones, but that the process of getting one was still ongoing.

According to Etim, “We will not provide different figures regarding the national minimum wage, so that is also what we are going to table.” The TUC will determine a consensus sum, but in the meanwhile, Joe Ajaero, the head of the NLC, has decided to swallow his pride and follow the crowd.

“We are considering a number of things, one of which being the feasibility of implementing a minimum wage. Saying N1m is the minimum salary is not simply for you to say. You don’t trivialize a really important issue. How can one get to N1m? The ability to pay in accordance with the minimum wage fixing norms of the International Labour Organization (ILO) must be taken into consideration. You’re just making an announcement and don’t actually have all those things in place.

This explains why the NLC was unable to organize their affairs. You learn that many zones have established varying minimum wages. It follows that the leadership failed to provide them with guidance.

“You can tell that TUC has a direction by looking at our own, which explains why our stance on the minimum wage is consistent.

Still, in due course, we shall examine our document and come to a consensus over our stance.

“I can tell you for free that nothing like that has happened,” Etim stated in response to a question about whether the NLC was in contact with the TUC to settle their disagreements. Something like that cannot happen at my level in the TUC without my involvement.

“We will undoubtedly unite in the long term. Additionally, let me clarify that children do not stop eating because of arguments between spouses.

Labor leaders in the state

Workers in the state will not accept any justification offered by the state government to postpone the implementation of the new minimum wage, according to Akeem Lasisi, the Chairman of the TUC in Ogun State.

According to Lasisi, workers anticipate that the state government would quickly implement the increased minimum wage after the federal government makes the announcement.

“Labor will not accept the weak argument that workers must bear the brunt of the government’s high-handedness,” he declared.

“By lowering the expense of governance, the government ought to lead by example. Workers who are motivated and well-paid are critical to a country’s progress.

“A higher minimum wage will spur more productivity, which will ultimately raise the value of money without contributing to inflation.

Since laborers shape a country’s destiny and should be treated with the highest respect and dignity, organized labor in the nation will not accept any justification from state governors.

Should laborers die in order for a country to advance? Setting a new minimum wage is a simple task for the state government to accomplish. To satisfy employees, state governments ought to emerge from the abyss and into a prosperous future.

“The minimum wage is on the exclusive list and is supported by law. If state governments don’t keep their half of the agreement, it will be very unfortunate and unacceptable.

In a similar vein, Sola Adigun, the Chairman of the TUC in Ekiti State, stated that the labor movement in the state had no reason to believe that Governor Biodun Oyebanji would provide an explanation upon the announcement of the new minimum wage.

“We tell the governor at every forum that there won’t be any problems implementing the new minimum wage in Ekiti State; he has agreed to that, and by God’s grace, there won’t be any problems,” Adigun stated.

Therefore, we will have no more justification to be upset or to talk about not implementing what was agreed upon or failing to do so.

“Workers in Ekiti State will negotiate a living wage or meaningful minimum wage with the government.” I don’t anticipate the governor acting in any other way.

According to Abimbola Fasasi, the chairman of the TUC in Osun State, Governor Ademola Adeleke participated in regional talks with labor on the new wage.

He claims that Adeleke’s participation in the talks will facilitate the labor movement’s demands for the state to pay the new minimum wage.

Thankfully, our governor is participating in the talks from here. For us here in Osun, it makes things so much easier,” said Fasasi.


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