There are strong indications that the federal government is favourably disposed to raising the minimum wage to as high as N200k per month as demanded by the organised labour in the country.
However, state governors are urging for caution while Anambra State governor Charles Soludo has been asked to chair a Technical Working Group (TWG) to resolve the issues and its various dimensions.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the matter was discussed at the last month’s National Economic Council (NEC) meeting and it was there that the Salaries, Incomes & Wages Commission made a presentation on how the federal government can meet up with the demand of N200,000 per month minimum wage.
Sources, who spoke with Empowered News Network, revealed that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is specifically and personally convinced that the demand of the organised labour is not unrealistic pointing to his campaign promises as a proof of his readiness to handle the challenge.
Recall that President Tinubu as president-elect also said on Workers Day on May 1 that “In the Nigeria, I shall have the honour and privilege to lead from May 29, workers will have more than a minimum wage. You will have a living wage to have a decent life and provide for your families.”
At the NEC meeting which the president inaugurated in June, the Salaries & Wages Commission costed the financial implications of the said minimum wage increase and showed how the federal government could pay it, with a certain recommendation that it was well within the capacity of the federal government. But at the meeting the state governors who make up the membership of the NEC raised questions over the proposal.
Leading the governors at the meeting was Anambra State governor, Prof Charles Soludo who argued that before adopting the presentation to significantly raise the national minimum wage, it would be important for NEC to first understand where the money would come from, how much would come and what states would get.
Part of the expectations and planning is that with the new foreign exchange policy more cash would be available to be shared by the federal and states governments under the FAAC monthly distribution. In which case according to informed sources there would be enough surplus cash to enable the significant raising of the minimum wage from N30,000 to N100, 000 monthly.
Similarly, the savings from the fuel subsidy would further mean more cash inflow to the federation account.
At the June NEC meeting, a sub-committee was formed to review the situation as was publicly announced, composed of governors led by Kebbi State governor with six other governors among the members. They are the governors of Anambra, Benue, Kaduna, Bauchi, Cross River and Oyo states with each representing the six geopolitical zones.
In the sub-committee are also the director-general of Budget Office of the Federation, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Accountant General of the Federation and the representative of NNPCL. Others included representatives from the organised labour (TUC and NLC) and Ms. Rukayyat El-Rufai, according to a statement from the Office of the Vice President who is NEC’s chairman.
The sub-committee at its meeting soon after the NEC last month, formed a Technical Working Group, TWG, with Governor Soludo as chairman to interrogate the issues around raising the minimum wage understanding that it is both the federal and state governments and not just the federal government that would be responsible for the payment of the new minimum wage.
Under Soludo’s leadership the TWG has met at least thrice last month; on the 24th, 27th and 30th respectively.
In one of its major resolutions the TWG resolved that negotiations with labour must be two-tracked between the federal government in one hand and the state governments in another hand.
Later this month the NEC would meet to receive the report of the sub-committee and take a final decision on the national minimum wage which would then be forwarded to the president as an advisory.
It was further gathered that what is most likely is that at the very least federal government workers would be receiving the huge minimum wage increase, while the Soludo TWG would determine the fate of the states’ workers.