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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Minimum wage: Workers boo Ngige, Yari at Reps hearing

Workers,  yesterday, booed the chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, Abdulazez Yari of Zamfara, and Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, while making their submissions at the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee public hearing on the new minimum wage.

Labour leaders during the rally to create awareness on the new Minimum Wage for workers organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress

The general consensus by critical stakeholders at the hearing was that N30,000 was affordable and that the issue of revenue formula  review was long overdue.

This is even as Speaker of the House of Representatives,Yakubu Dogara, declared in his welcome address that the N30,000 being proposed was not even enough, saying Nigerian workers deserved a living wage.

The workers who stormed venue of the public hearing in large numbers did not, however, spare Governor  Yari and Ngige as they were both booed throughout their submissions.

At a stage, Ngige was forced to tell the workers that “if you like, don’t clap for me.   As a rule here, you don’t clap,” the workers replied with a thunderous ‘time up! time up.’

In his submission, Ngige told the panellists that the decision of the National Council of State, NCS, was not cast on stone, stressing that for anybody to say there was an agreement was a misnomer.

Rounding off his submissions, Ngige said the Federal Government would pay level one federal civil servants a minimum of N30,000.

In his submission, President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba, told the stakeholders that any increase in workers’ wages would not translate into inflation.

He said:  
“So far, 30 state governors have agreed to pay N30,000 and only six are still delaying their support.’’

Chairman of NGF, Yari, in his presentation, said the forum accepted what was approved by NCS as regards the minimum wage of N27,000.

While explaining that governors were not against Nigerian workers, he pleaded with the workers  to understand the economic situation in the country.

“Let me also emphasize on the issue of revenue formula, the truth is that it’s long overdue for a review,” he said.

Shortly after his presentation, the congregation started chanting”Ole ole ole” to the hearing of chairman of NGF, Yari

Other stakeholders, such as the private sector and the Small Scale and Medium Enterprise agreed, in their presentations, to pay N30,000 per month as minimum wage.

Earlier in his welcome address, Speaker of the House of Representatives,  Dogara, noted that what Nigerians actually wanted was a living wage, not a minimum wage.

Similarly, chairman of the adhoc committee and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yussuff Lasun, said the minimum wage was a subject matter that covered all core roles of a democratic assembly.

He explained that the current National Minimum Wage discourse was in the national front burner and called for diligent and objective consideration of the bill.

“We, therefore, have the unremitting obligation as representatives of Nigerians to device a broad-based, across the spectrum, holistic and dynamic minimum wage template and regime that will address our peculiar diverse complexity and the issues raised,’’ he said.

The House is expected to debate the report of the adhoc committee on Tuesday and possibly pass the bill into law.

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