President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday during the 2019 budget presentation suggested there would be a review of the N30,000 proposed by a tripartite committee as the minimum wage in the country.
The president’s proposal was promply criticised by labour unions who insisted all the president needed to do was to send a bill to the parliament for a N30,000 minimum wage.
In his speech, Mr Buhari, however, said he would soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly for approval as a demonstration of his administration’s commitment to pay a new national minimum wage.
The president made these known while presenting the 2019 Budget proposals to the joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja. The session was presided over by both the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.
“I am committed to addressing the issue of a new (national) minimum wage. I will be sending a Bill to the National Assembly on this,” he told lawmakers.
However, he urged the lawmakers to ensure that in handling the bill, they take steps to avoid a fiscal crisis for both the federal and state government, by devising ways to ensure the implementation of the new wage structure does not precipitate an increase in the level of borrowing.
To avoid a resort to additional borrowings to pay the new wage bill, the president said a technical committee has been set up to advise the government on how to fund the anticipated increase in the minimum wage.
He said the committee would work on a finance bill to be submitted to the National Assembly for approval along with the Minimum Wage Bill.
He said the committee would recommend modalities for the implementation of the new minimum wage in a manner to not only minimise its inflationary impact but also ensure it does not lead to job losses.
The president’s non-committal of the amount he has approved, and his suggestion of a possible review was promptly criticised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
The NLC said it would reject any amount separate from the N30,000 agreed by a tripartite committee on the issue; an agreement that was submitted to the president.
The NLC also said it would not want to be party to any other arrangement to review the resolution of the tripartite committee on the national minimum wage.
On November 5, the tripartite committee set up in 2017, after prolonged consultations, submitted a report which showed N30,000 was agreed as the new national minimum wage.
Before the submission of the report, both the federal and 36 state governments rejected the amount, opting to pay N24,000 and N20,000 respectively, despite labour’s insistence on N30,000.
The tripartite committee which arrived at the N30,000 includes labour leaders, state and federal government representatives and private employers of labour.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos shortly after watching the budget presentation by President Buhari that his group would not be party to any technical committee to review the N30,000 minimum wage.