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Enough of the rigmarole on the minimum wage

At the meeting of the Federal Executive Council last week, the council stepped down the memo on the new minimum wage arising from the submission…

At the meeting of the Federal Executive Council last week, the council stepped down the memo on the new minimum wage arising from the submission of the tripartite committee on the national minimum wage as demanded by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). This was to enable President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to engage governors and other stakeholders on the issue.

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, told newsmen at the end of the meeting that the final decision on the new national minimum wage will affect the federal, state, local governments and the organised private sector, as well as other categories of employers around the country. President Tinubu will need to make an informed decision on the issue after a wider consultation with all stakeholders.

‘’I want to inform Nigerians that the federal executive council deliberated on the report of the tripartite committee on the new national minimum wage and the decision to step it down was to enable Mr President to consult further before an executive bill is presented to the National Assembly,” the minister said.

Two days after the FEC meeting, state governors took their turn to meet and deliberate on the minimum wage issue but ended the meeting without reaching a decision.

And on Thursday, the National Economic Council (NEC), with Vice President Kashim Shettima presiding and, against the expectations of Nigerians, met and made no pronouncement on the issue.

As expected, while watching what amounts to motion without movement, Nigerians were not impressed by what they see as dangerous time wasting on an issue that has dragged on for a needlessly inordinate period. As the ball is on the court of the government and with what looks like a delay tactic on its part, no one can realistically say when the government will finish its consultation on this matter.

Nigerians are thus disappointed and calling on the government to get its act together and close the gap on the issue.

Speaking during the National Executive Committee meeting of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) at the University of Benin, the president of the association, Comrade Ibrahim Mohammed, noted that President Tinubu was negating his pre-election campaign pledge of ensuring, if elected, that there will be a living wage for Nigerian workers. Comrade Mohammed stated that: ‘’At the level of SSANU, I can say that we are not happy about the slow motion by the president on the issue of minimum wage in the country…Consultation should not be at this level. It should have been before the tripartite committee came on’’.

It is unfortunate that many Nigerians have been led to believe that the administration is deliberately stalling so as not to pay the minimum wage demands by the NLC.

We note that the foot-dragging by the federal and state governments over the minimum wage issue contrasts sharply with the quick decision taken by the government on withdrawal of subsidies by President Tinubu without any consultation whatsoever. It is indeed this action that resulted in the ever-rising cost of living in the country, which necessitated the demand by the organised labour for wage increase.

To make matters worse, both federal and state governments embarked on a spending spree on luxury items for the executive and legislative officials.

We believe it is time for both the federal and state governments to sit down to a reasonable discussion with labour representatives to ensure a speedy conclusion of the minimum wage matter.

We at Daily Trust urge the government to show more seriousness in the negotiation for the minimum wage, as it is an issue of necessity for the economic and social benefit to the nation. Letting the minimum wage issue linger on without resolution may result in consequences that could be unpalatable and ultimately regrettable.

We also appeal to labour leaders to reconsider their demands in order to quickly arrive at an amicable resolution of the issue and enable the nation to move forward. Dragging this issue further will only continue to hurt our nation.

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