The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, on Thursday attacked the Nigeria Governors’ Forum for saying that there would be economic crisis in Nigeria if President Muhammadu Buhari went ahead to present an executive bill on N30, 000 minimum wage to the National Assembly as demanded by organised labour.
A governor, who spoke on condition of anonymity for the NGF, had claimed that 30 states would be affected adversely by the new minimum wage, stressing that the wage should be pegged at N22, 500.
The governor had said, “Now, if the President goes ahead to send a bill that will contain N30,000 to the National Assembly without considering what we have told him, there will be crisis in the country. We will wait to see what will happen. I’m sure that the National Assembly will not pass the bill this year.”
But in an exclusive interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Thursday, NLC’s Head of Information and Public Affairs, Mr Benson Upah, said the governors were not being fair to President Buhari’s intention and Nigerian workers.
According to him, the governors would do Nigeria great favour if they cut down on their financial excesses that were not accounted for.
He reiterated the NLC position that there was evidence of governors who could pay more than N30,000 during negotiation for the new minimum wage.
Upah said,“The governors who are pushing that agenda are not being fair to Buhari, the NLC and their own people that they sought through elections to serve.
“The first thing to note is that the tripartite process that produced this N30,000 minimum wage remains unimpeachable. It is clear, transparent and cannot be subjected to another round of arguments.
“In fact, the governors should apologise to the citizens for frustrating the process up to this moment. They should be ashamed.
“We will tell them not to come to Abuja to complain, they should stay in their respective states and tell the workers that they will not pay N30,000. They should not hide under any association because it (NGF) is not recognised by the constitution. Let that governor go and address his workers.
“When on Tuesday, labour mobilised its members to all government houses on this matter, why did the governors not tell them that they cannot pay. Anyone that cannot pay must not seek re-election. I am happy Buhari also said this.”
While explaining that the new wage was not the same as having a uniform pay structure for all states in Nigeria, the NLC noted that the proposed wage was not a favour for the workers.
“What we did on Tuesday is a fraction of what labour is capable of doing. We will continue to mobilise against governors that we suspect will not fall in line with us.
“We have the number, the will and the resources to ensure that such governors will not succeed. The national minimum wage is not a favour.
“It is the irreducible minimum wage that the least worker in Nigeria can take. It is not the same as having a uniform pay structure across the country. Most governors seek to create wrong impression about it.
“The Minister of Internal Affairs told us that every prisoner is fed with N14,000 a day. Do workers who contribute to national development not deserve better?
“Some states like Rivers and Kano voluntarily offered to pay more than N30,000. Governors should have the free will to pay workers, reduce corruption and cut down on the cost of governance.”