Nigerian Governors under the banner of Nigeria Governors Forum have told organised labour in the country that the only way they can achieve payment of the new minimum wage being demanded for is to reduce the workforce of the civil service within the states.
The Governors also asked the Federal Government to review the national revenue allocation formula in order to be able to meet the demands of organised labour.
Arising from an emergency meeting of the Governors Forum in Abuja on Wednesday night, the chairman of the forum Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari said a new committee would be raised to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari over the issue.
He said the committee would work out another formula towards quickly resolving the problem associated with the proposed minimum wage.
Read excerpts from the communiqué of the meeting read by the Chairman of the Forum below;
“Following a meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum where we deliberated on the national minimum wage, governors resolved to re-strategise and put together another committee to meet with the President once again, to work out another formula towards quickly resolving the problem associated with the proposed N30.000 minimum wage which is impracticable unless labour agrees to a downsizing of the workforce all over the country or the Federal Government itself accedes to the review of the national revenue allocation formula.
Members of the committee who were nominated to see the President include the governors of Lagos, Kebbi, Plateau, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi. Enugu and Kaduna.”
The chairman admitted that he had seen seen the report of the Tripartite Committee report presented to President Muhammadu Buhari alongside his colleagues although they were still studying the report and had yet to come to a conclusion.
He accused the committee of not considering the submission of the state governors who reiterated that they could not afford to pay more than N22.500 as a new minimum wage.
“We have seen what has been presented to the President by the (Tripartite) Committee.
As a member of the committee, our representative there said the committee did not take our submission of N22,500 because it came late.
I am surprised. How can you do this without the input of the states because the states are the key stakeholders in this business?
So, a situation whereby our report was not taken or considered by the Tripartite Committee … then I don’t know how the committee wants us to work.” He said.
Governor Yari said it was regrettable that while the governors would want to pay the amount being asked for by labour, they would not be able to do so due to meagre resources available to them.
“But we still say we want to pay, but the issue is the ability to pay. If we say no, it is not about the ability to pay, I don’t know how this formula will work and I don’t know how we can get a solution to the issue.
We are paying N18,000 (as minimum wage today), but when the President assumed office, about 27 states were not able to pay, not that they chose not to pay.
So, now you say N30,000, how many of them can pay? We will be bankrupt (if we pay). So as Nigerians, we should look at the issues seriously.
While other people are saying that governors are riding jets and living in affluence, that one is not luxury but compulsory.
Like Lagos that is paying about N7bn as salaries; if you say it should pay N30,000, now it will be N13bn.
From our calculation, it is only Lagos State that will be able to pay N30,000. As Nigerians, this is our country; there is no other country we have and we should be fair to this country.” he said.
He reiterated that the various state governors would continue individual dialogue with labour to explain the difficult position they have been put in.
“As for the way forward, we will continue to talk with Labour. Let them see reasons and difficulties some of us have. For instance, the money Lagos State is using to pay is not coming from Abuja.
They have a way of getting their money from the IGR and that is why they can afford to pay. They get money through VAT (as well).
Apart from Lagos, even Rivers State cannot afford to pay. So we have been crying out about this since 2011 but no one will listen.
One critical example is that some states ration their salaries while some others put everything they earn on the table and ask labour to come and see and ask them to suggest how much should go for capital and personnel costs.
Some say 70 per cent for personnel cost and 30 per cent for capital projects and yet the states cannot pay and they put the remaining as outstanding.”
So, let us look at this matter seriously to see how we can do it properly. It is our primary responsibility to see that everybody is happy.
It is the same labour that is pushing for the N30,000 that will still turn around to say that the governors did not do any infrastructure and how are we going to achieve that by paying only salaries?” he concluded