The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has attributed the delay in the approval of a new minimum wage for Nigerian workers to the inability of the state governors to come up with an agreed figure.
Ngige, who stated this at a press briefing in Obosi, in the Idemili Local Government Area of Anambra State, also said there was no truth in the news that the Federal Government was planning to increase monthly allowance of corps members.
While stating that the committee saddled with the responsibility to work out the modalities for the new wage had been up and about, Ngige said the Nigerian Governors’ Forum had not been able to come up with any figure as a minimum wage they could pay.
Describing the governors as critical partners in wage determination, Ngige said as an insider and a realist, he would not want to give any date or month when the minimum wage would be implemented. This, he said, was because the process of fixing the new minimum wage was still a little bit longer.
He added,”We have a tripartite committee on that. I am a member of the committee. I’m its deputy chairman, so to say. We have a timetable and we would have finished everything about it by the end of this August, but it is no longer tenable because the committee is not yet done with certain things.
“We couldn’t agree on a figure because of two reasons, partly the state governors have not come up with a figure and the state governors are a critical constituent of this discussion.
“We have six governors in the committee, one from each geopolitical zone. So, the NGF has not come up with their figure; they said they were still working on it; that was the last submission they made to us and the Federal Government team.
“We are working through the Economic Management Team and this team dictates the economy of the country and they will now take whatever the governors say and fine-tune it with that of the Federal Government. So, that is where we are.
“The national minimum wage tripartite committee is at work and it is until that body brings out its figures, brings out its recommendations pertaining to national minimum wage, it’s only after that, that a bill can be sent to the National Assembly for them to process and send to Mr President for assent before it can become a National Minimum Wage Act. If it happens in 2018, it becomes Act 2018.”
Speaking on the alleged pay rise for members of the National Youth Service Corps, Ngige debunked the story doing the rounds that the monthly allowance of corpers had been increased to about N50, 000.
He described the story as unfounded, adding that the Federal Government would not have increased the allowance of corps members without first coming out with a minimum wage for the Nigerian workers. The minister explained that the corps members’ allowance was coterminous with the prevailing minimum wage.
Ngige said, “No recommendation has come to the Federal Executive Council on this. The NYSC pay is on the sliding scale; the same sliding scale with the national minimum wage except that there is a top up; what is called top up on the national minimum wage is to make for special transport allowance for members of the NYSC.
“That is why today, the national minimum wage is N18, 000, and the top up for NYSC members is about N1, 500 making it N19, 500. This is what the Federal Government pays each corps member.
“For now, there is no figure before us as an increment and as a matter of fact, the last Federal Executive Council had mandated the Minister of Youths and Sports to liaise with the Director General of the NYSC so that he can be brought on board for us to work as a team, “ Ngige stated.
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