The new wage structure is still a long way to go, going by indications from Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige.
According to him, governors, the most critical group in the process, are yet to submit their proposal on a new wage system.
The minister told reporters in Anambra State that without a proposal from the governors, there cannot be an agreement on a new wage structure.
Ngige is the deputy chairman of the 30-man Tripartite Committeeon on the minimum wage set up by President Muhammadu Buhari last November. A former Head of Service of the Federation, Ms Ama Pepple, is the chairman.
Members of the committee are drawn from the public sector (federal and state), the private sector and the labour union. There are six governors – one each from the six geo-political zones.
President Buhari, while inaugurating the panel, said the current wage structure had expired. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has proposed a minimum wage of N56,000 but employers under the umbrella of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, have rejected the proposal.
Governors have also said they were not elected only to pay salaries, adding that the bulk of their revenue would not be devoted to paying workers.
The Labour Minister said although the Tripartite Commmitte would conclude its assignment this month, the delay by the governors to submit their proposal would delay action.
He said: “I am the deputy chairman (of the committee); I drive it. We have a timetable and we will finish everything about it this end of August, but it is not attainable anymore because even in the committee we have not all finished dotting all the i’s and agreeing on a figure
“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. They have six governors in the committee, one from each geo-political zone”
“So the Governors Forum has not come up with their figure. They say they are 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.”
“The Economic management team dictates the economy of the country and they will now take whatever the governors say and fine-tune with that of the federal government, so that is where we are”
“The national minimum wage tripartite committee is still at work, and is until it brings out its figures, brings out its recommendations pertaining to the national minimum wage. It is only after that that a Bill can be sent to the National Assembly for processing and be sent to Mr. President for assent and for it to become a National Minimum Wage Act.”
After the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) meeting last week, NGF Chairman and Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari, gave an account of why the governors were yet to agree on a figure.
He said: “We have a committee of six which represents us in discussions in the committee headed by the Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige.
“The committee has yet to give us the final report. They have given us an interim report that at the Federal Government level, over 82 per cent is being spent on overheads which cannot move the country forward in terms of infrastructure development and development that we need now.
“So, on our own part, we are saying we are going to look at how our income is taken from our final account from 14 years ago so that we can come up and stay in the middle.”
He added: “I don’t think you people voted us only to pay salaries. You are looking for good roads, electricity, education and others. So, we can’t do magic. It’s only when we have the funds that we can do all those things.”
Ngige also told reporters that the hike in National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members allowances had not been finalised.