Governors under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), who met on Wednesday night in Abuja, have said though they were not against the upward review of the national minimum wage, they lacked the ability to pay the proposed N24,000.
Chairman of NGF and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, who briefed journalists on the outcome of the meeting, disclosed that the governors also met with the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, who briefed them on how many states complied with the agreement signed to clear salary arrears.
According to him, the issue was not just on agreed figure to be paid by the governors, but the “ability or resources to take care of that agreed minimum wage.”
Asked whether the issue of minimum wage was part of the agenda of the meeting, Yari said: “We didn’t discuss minimum wage because that is in the hands of the Federal Government, because it is on the Exclusive List. But like we said, we can do minimum wage on any amount we need but the issue is the ability to pay the minimum wage agreed.
“In the last meeting which the minister of Labour attended with the negotiation committee and also the committee that we also set up, we made it clear that we are not against the upward review of salary, we are in tandem with the NLC to get the minimum wage reviewed but the problem we are having is the capacity to pay what is agreed.
“As at today, most of the states are struggling to pay the N18,000 minimum wage. Some states are paying between 35 to 50 percent of the minimum wage and some states are owing salary.
“If we say we are going to do an upward review of the minimum wage, it is not about only reviewing it but how we are going to get the resources to cater for it.
“The NLC had demanded N30,000 as minimum wage, the governors proposed N20,000, while the Federal Government said it could afford N24,000.”
On the Paris Club refund which the Federal Government disbursed to states on the condition that they use larger percentage of the money to pay workers’ salaries, Yari said while some states had recorded some progress in line with the condition they signed with the Federal Government, others were still owing arrears.
“We invited the national president of NLC to give us details on how some states performed. Some other states that are not up to date, where are they?
“So they have signed Memorandum of Understanding with the NLC at the national level and their representative in states on when they are going to overcome the issue of salary arrears.
“That has been done and it has been taken to the Central Bank (of Nigeria) governor to ensure that those states were also paid.”