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Minimum Wage: Discordant Tunes across Geopolitical Zones

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From By Kunle Idowu, Abeokuta, Yagana Ali, Yola

Labour leaders and governors on Thursday took varying positions on the minimum wage question.

Workers made diverse demands on what should be the minimum wage at the Public hearing of tripartite committee of national minimum wage that took place in the different regions of the country.

President Bola Tinubu, through Vice-President Kashim Shettima had on Jan.

30 inaugurated a 37-member panel on the new minimum wage in Abuja

The committee scheduled March 7 for public hearing in all the six geo-political zones in the country.

South-south zone

South South Zonal chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has proposed N850,000 as new minimum wage for workers.

It equally advocated for impeachment or imprisonment of any governor, who may refuse to abide by the new minimum wage benchmark.

The Chairman of NLC in Akwa Ibom, Comrade Sunny James stated this while speaking at the Zonal Public Hearings organised by the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage (TCNMW) on Thursday in Uyo.

The labour union leader said operational licenses of the private sector that may default in paying the new minimum wage should be withdrawn.

“It is the collective request from the zone that the inflation-dependent model of wage adjustment be adopted.

“This will automatically raise the minimum wage for the workers, whenever inflation rises and hence eradicate the struggle for a new wage every five years as obtained in the developed world.

“Minimum wages should be paid to all workers in the employment of not less than five employees.

“This act will bring inclusiveness to all Nigerians as exhibited in the composition of the Minimum Wage Negotiating Committee.

“The Zone proposes a penalty for those contravening the minimum wage to include: the impeachment and imprisonment of erring Governors,  withdrawal of operational license to the defaulting private sector employers,” James said.

The Secretary of Akwa Ibom State Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Kingsley Bassey, who spoke on behalf of the zone pegged the new minimum wage at N450,000.

Bassey urged government to implement the wage to ameliorate the plight and sufferings of the Nigerian workers.

On his part, the TCNMW Chairman, Mr Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, said that the committee was keenly interested in receiving well-researched position papers that will aid in making informed decisions.

Oyerinde was represented by the Chairman of the National Association of Small, Medium Enterprise (NASME), Mr Nnoron Theophilus.

He assured that the diverse opinions gathered from both private and public sectors would help to impact the livelihood of the citizens.

In his remarks, Gov. Umo Eno promised to cooperate in the payment of the new minimum wage, when it is approved.

Eno, who was represented by the Head of Service, Mr Effiong Essien, said that within one year in office, his administration had paid workers entitlements to the tune of N14.7 billion.

North-east zone

In Adamawa State NLC requested for more than N400,000 as the minimum wage because of inflation and devaluation of naira against the dollar.

The union also called for a uniform minimum wage in both public and private sectors as all the workers are doing same job.

In the north-east, the Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Muhammad said the sufferings of Nigerians are unimaginable.

The governor make this known in an interview during the public hearing of tripartite committee of national minimum wage of the North Eastern zone held in Yola.

He tasked the public hearing should look at all the issues and differences to come out with what states will be able pay workers salary.

In his remark the Governor of Adamawa State, Umaru Fintiri represented by the Deputy Governor Prof Kaletapwa Farauta said they all agreed as government that things are not going well in the country.

“We can come to agreement as people and government to say look this is what we can do,” the governor said.

According to the governor, there is no figure that can be paid to a civil servant that will be convenient.

The Governors of Borno , Yobe , Gombe and Taraba States through representatives make their contributions at public hearing.

South-west

 Osun State Governor Ademola Adeleke called for the review of the Federation Account Revenue sharing formula as well as the removal of solid minerals from exclusive list.

The governor made the advocacy in Lagos at the South West National Tripartite Minimum Wage Committee.

Addressing labour leaders and other delegates at the public hearing, the Osun State Governor said there is a consensus on the minimum wage but noted that a review of the revenue sharing formula and amendment of the law is necessary to boost the capacity of the states to pay the new minimum wage.

“In all our meetings and various deliberations, one thing that the committee has been able to establish is that the workers in Nigeria are due for an improved welfare package.

“There is a consensus for an upward review of the National Minimum Wage because the existing one has become unrealistic.

“It has to be reiterated that the majority of the governments at the sub−nationals can hardly sustain an improved wages and salaries for their workers without a significant adjustment in some of the narratives in the national economy.

“In tandem with the public outcry for the review of the sharing formula for the federation account, the time has come for the federal government to revisit the matter.

“There is an urgent need for the review of existing sharing formulas in favor of states and local governments.

“I call on the National Assembly through the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to urgently take decisive action to look at the ratio objectively and realistically.

“Additionally, the nation must remove solid minerals from the exclusive legislative list.

“Every state in Nigeria has been blessed with one form of natural resources or the other. There is a strong appeal to move solid minerals from exclusive to concurrent list,” the governor submitted.

He said, “While it would be desirable to see that a uniform minimum wage is agreed on a national basis, it would amount to self-deceit to assume that states have equal ability to pay.”

He posited that individual states would have to negotiate with their workers and agree to a realistic and sustainable minimum wage in line with the available resources.

The Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun was the Chairman of the zonal public hearing.

South-east

The South-east chapters of NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have proposed N540,000 and N447,000 respectively as new minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

The organised labour made the proposal during the South-east Zonal Hearing organised by the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage on Thursday in Enugu.

The Chairman, NLC Enugu State Chapter, Comrade Fabian Nwigbo noted that the value of N30,000 minimum wage of 2019 had been eroded by inflation.

According to him, if you consider what is going on in the country today, one won’t be talking about minimum wage anymore.

Nwagbo described the situation as very “unfortunate” saying that if one compared the minimum wages being paid in West African countries, Nigeria workers were the least paid.

“For us, we want to propose based on the prices of commodities in Nigeria. In 2019 when we had N30, 000 minimum wage, a paint bucket of gari was N280, rice and beans were about N450 each while fuel was N145.

“This has continued to subsist till today where a litre of fuel is now N750 to N800 depending on the location.

“In the current state, a paint bucket of rice is over N4000 and gari N2,500.

“While two bedroom flat in Enugu that used to be N250, 000-N300,000 is over N650,000 at the suburb and in the city it stands at N1.2 million yearly.

“Everything is moving up except salary paid to civil servants.

“We are praying the leadership of this country to consider the pains and sufferings of the Nigeria workers and citizens and give us something that is close to what we can use to survive,” he appealed.

Giving a breakdown of the proposal, the chairman added that a family of six with daily feeding of N2000 each, would have N12,000 and in 30 days it would be N360,000.

“We have also put hospital bills at N20,000, education N40,000, utility, N10,000, clothing N30,000, social engagement and other things at N10,000 per month.

“If you put them together, you have N540,000 which will do a little good to the workers of Nigeria and so we are proposing N540,000 as new minimum wage for civil servants, he said.

He called for review of minimum wage law every two years, saying that the issue of five years was no longer fashionable as well as leaving as leaving minimum wage in exclusive list.

The labour leader, however, called for impeachment of any governor that failed to implement new minimum as well as the extension of the wage to the pensioners whom he said put in their active lives in service.

“Once it is approved, every governor and Council Chairman should start paying it across board. The issue of workers going to negotiate with their state governors should not arise,” he said.

In his submission, Comrade Ben Asogwa, Chairman, TUC Enugu Chapter, said that the zone aligned with the N447,000 proposed by the TUC national leadership.

“It is small to what Nigeria workers expect but we are concerned on its implementation if more is requested, given the economic factors and indices. Any governor that refuses to pay should leave office,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Tommy Etim, Chairman of the event and Deputy National President one, TUC, said it was a mark of honour for them to have engaged in a sensitive assignment on National minimum wage.

Etim however, expressed displeasure on the absence of representatives of the Civil Societies, Nigeria Union of Pensioners and others.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that none of the governors or their representatives from the zone attended the hearing including Gov. Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra who is the Chairman of the event and Member of the Tripartite Committee.

North-central zone

NLC FCT Proposes N709,000 Minimum Wage for Workers

NLC, FCT chapter has proposed N709,000 as new minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

The NLC FCT Chairman, Dr Stephen Knabayi made the submission at the North Central Zonal Public Hearing organised by the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage on Thursday in Abuja.

In the North-central zone, no fewer than 15 organisations met and presented their submissions to the council.

Knabayi, while making the submission, said the Congress took cognisance of the present economic conditions in the country in arriving at the figure.

According to him, the sum proposed will help cushion the effects of the economic challenges and ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians.

“We have a common position. This position considers the current economic plight in the country.

“We have the submission that N709,000 per month should be the minimum wage for the workers in the country.

“We believe that Nigeria has what it takes, the leadership should commit themselves to getting this money paid and for us to have better treatment for the working people of Nigeria,” he said.

TUC, FCT chapter, making its submission, proposed N447,000 as the new minimum wage.

Mr Amaege Chukwudi who represented the TUC said, “This will give Nigerian workers a minimum level of comfort and enable them to cope with the current level of economic hardship, which has turned the majority of them to beggars.

“So for us in the FCT, we expect the minimum wage to run across the three tiers of government “he said.

Chukwudi appealed for policy reform that would engender massive food supply in the country.

He urged the Federal Government to provide buses to ease movement of workers, fix refineries, and ensure stable electricity supply, among other recommendations.

Prof. Mohammad Mohammed, of the Medical and Dental Consultant Association of Nigeria said the minimum wage for workers should be N440,333.33.

The professor appealed that a consequential adjustment should be included in the approved minimum wage for workers.

Representatives of the Forum of Retired Directors of Federal Civil Service proposed N70,000 minimum wage for workers at the hearing.

They also appealed for a review of pension allowance as stipulated in Nigerian law.

The Federal Civil Service of Pensioners of Nigeria demanded that 85 percent of the minimum wage that would be approved should be assigned to them.

The National Chairman of the Association, Sunday Omezi, said at the hearing that the money would enable them to take care of themselves and their health challenges.

The chairman, however, expressed displeasure that pensioners were not included in the tripartite committee.

Speaking, Chairman of the Zonal Committee, Mr Festus Osifo said  the committee would make recommendations  for effective and full implementation of the new minimum wage once approved and signed into law.

“We will try to put in place very strong sanction and punitive measures to ensure that once passed into law, it is implemented across the states,” he said.

The hearing was well attended by government representatives and stakeholders, both from the public and private sector.

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PDP National Chairman Must Go, Angry Lawmakers Insist 

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By Ubong Ukpong, Abuja

Political crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took a new dimension yesterday after meeting of the party’s caucus in the House of Representatives.

Lawmakers loyal to the party’s Acting National Chairman, Umar Damagun and FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike attempted to pass a vote of confidence on Damagun but were blocked.

The meeting convened by the Leader of the Caucus and House Minority Leader, Hon.

Kingsley Chinda was held for about two hours at the National Assembly, Abuja ahead of Thursday’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party.

Last week, a group of 60 PDP federal lawmakers threatened to quit the party if the doctored list of Caretaker Committees in Rivers and 10 other states which was filled with members and loyalist of the All Progressive Congress (APC) is not nullified.

The group under the aegis of Opposition Lawmakers Coalition also demanded the resignation of the acting chairman of PDP to pave way for a north-central person to emerge as acting chairman of the party pending the conduct of convention as required by the party’s constitution.

Chinda said, “We have just concluded the third meeting of the People’s Democratic Party caucus in the 10th Assembly and have resolved to tell all of us and the world that we are united and we are one and remain united, indivisible, committed and out to perform its duty as the watchdog on behalf of the Nigerian people.

“In the same vein, we x-rayed the security situation in our country and we resolved that we can no longer take this situation where Nigeria is today almost tagged as one life, one minute silence.

“The government is therefore called upon to immediately take steps to ensure that the security situation in the country is normalized and the caucus have also given three-month ultimatum for government to normalize the security situation in our country.

“After three months, the caucus will take further steps to sensitize and mobilize Nigerians to perhaps take their security into their hands.

“The house of representatives caucus also agreed to call on all party caucuses, the board of trustees, national executive committee and the national working committee of the party to embark on reconciliatory measures with the view to resolve all litigations that are pending and that has hindered the party in anyway whatsoever from having a substantive national Chairman.

“We call on our leaders, leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party to continue to demonstrate unconditional loyalty to the party and ensure that the party is moved to abide or place where she enjoyed the position of the largest party in Africa and to take back the Aso Villa which is actually supposed to be our birth right. And so for us, we are going back as we resume the session to commence a strong, virile and purpose driven opposition to give the people a voice in the parliament.

“We call on our leaders in the PDP to continue to demonstrate unconditional loyalty to the party and ensure that the party reclaim her pride of place where she enjoys the position of the largest party in Africa and to take back the Aso Villa which actually supposed to be our birth right.

“For us, we are going back as we resume the session to commence a strong, virile and purpose driven opposition to give the people a voice in the parliament. We also called on the Senate Leadership to please take steps to recall our colleague and senior brother, a veteran politician, a parliamentarian per excellence, Abdul Ningi.”

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FG to Strengthen Agric Dev’t through Land-Based Investment

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

The Federal Government has reiterated its commitments to adopting responsible and inclusive land-based investment principles in the agricultural Sector.

To this end, the State Action on Business Enabling Reforms (SABER) Programme, is poised to reward States with over US$4.

5 million each for successfully setting up the requisite Governance Systems, Guidelines and Piloting Investment(s) in line with Established Principles.

The National Programme Coordinator, SABER Programme, Dr. Ali Mohammed noted that “This reform will also strategically position your States for local and Foreign Investment, hence, creating more jobs and eventually, propel the much desired Economic Growth”.

The National Programme Coordinator, SABER Programme disclosed this at the commencement of a workshop on the Framework for Responsible and Inclusive Land-Intensive Agriculture (FRILIA) being jointly organized for Sub-nationals by the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) in Abuja.

The SABER Programme is a three-year (2023-2025) US$750m program for results that seeks to incentivize States to implement critical reforms aimed at improving (1) efficiency in land administration (2) the regulatory framework for private investment in fiber optic deployment (3) services provided by investment promotion agencies and public private partnership units and (4) the efficiency and transparency of government to business services in participating States.

Disbursements will be on-lent to the States upon annual verification by an Independent Verification Agent (IVA) that a State has successfully implemented the associated reform. FRILIA is one of the many reforms advocated by the program.

Dr. Mohammed lamented that although food production has been increasing steadily, attaining Food Security remains a major challenge noting that while the government has intervened in terms of making financing and inputs available, more systemic issues around land administration and compliance with best practice standards remain an issue.

“As we seek out increased investment in the Sector, we must ensure that impediments to doing business are removed and that investors adhere to principles and guidelines that safeguard the rights of host communities.

“They should also employ operating models that have the least impact on livelihood and the environment. It is our belief that the Framework for Responsible and Inclusive Land-Intensive Agriculture (FRILIA) provides the roadmap for attaining these objectives”.

The National Programme Coordinator further disclosed that in order to provide the right enabling environment, the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMF) through the World Bank-assisted SABER Program, has engaged the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) to assist in providing a suite of technical assistance services including Advisory, Guidelines, Peer Learning Sessions and Technical Workshops.

In his remarks earlier, the Director General of NGF, Mr. Asishana Okauru disclosed that under SABER Programme, NGF is working collaboratively with the Federal Ministry of Finance and the World Bank to deliver advisory and capacity building support to States.

Okauru observed that Land-based investment in Nigeria has been marred by various challenges ranging from lack of clarity on governance mechanisms; weak administrative support systems for stakeholders; poor data; little or no recognition for inclusion, gender equality and cultural values; poor engagement with host community; disproportionate compensation and resettlement for persons displaced.

“These have impacted negatively on the cost of doing business, agriculture value chain, livelihood, environment and ultimately, economic development”.

To address these challenges, the Director General emphasized that State Governments seeking out investment for intensive Land-based agriculture, must think through strengthening their governance and administrative systems by ensuring that issues of inclusion, gender equality, fair compensation, environmental as well as social sustainability are prioritized, and that established guidelines thereof are adhered to by all stakeholders.

He recalled that in 2021, the NGF in collaboration with the World Bank convened the first Sub-national dialogue on the adoption of a Framework for Responsible and Inclusive Land-Intensive Agriculture (FRILIA). This will facilitate experience sharing from front-runners such as Kaduna and Ogun States which have since then set-up governance systems and guidelines for implementation.

Also in 2023, the Forum had similarly supported 7 States (Borno, Edo, Ekiti, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Niger and Zamfara) with the development of an Executive Order mandating the adoption of FRILIA.

According to him, the model Executive Order being advocated by NGF sets out in-part the governance and administrative mechanisms, commitment to international and proven principles that guarantee recognition, respect and protection of land and human rights.

“It also outlines commitment to ensuring inclusion and gender equality, environmental and social sustainability, food security, responsible natural resource management amongst others”.

Okauru also thanked the World Bank and the Federal Ministry of Finance for their continued support and collaboration in advancing reforms for sub-national development.

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Kaduna Assembly Probes Loans Obtained by El-Rufai Administration

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By Lubem Myaornyi

Kaduna State House of Assembly yesterday set up a 13-man committee to probe financial dealings, loans, grants and other project implementations from 2015-2023 under former Governor Nasir El-Rufai administration.

The House also mandated the committee to invite notable personalities that served during the period, including contractors to show how the loans and grants received during the period under review were spent.

The constitution of the adhoc committee followed a motion by member representing Kaura Constituency, Hon.

Yusuf Mugu.

Mugu said it was a matter of public importance that the loans borrowed by former Governor Nasir El-Rufai be investigated arguing that there is a need for the people of the state to know what the loans were used for.

He said, “There have been uncomplimentary comments and assassination of character on the leadership of the state, which the assembly cannot sit and watch.

“That is why I came up with this motion that the Speaker constitute a committee to investigate the allegations and negative comments on them.

“This is the only way the state can rekindle its confidence in its development partners, collaborators, and also those who give us loans and grants. Failure to do this will push the indicators of the state to a situation whereby nobody will want to do business with us.”

Speaking on the matter, former Speaker Yusuf Zailani noted that he denied approval of some of the loans but the governor still found his way.

Zailani who represents Igabi West constituency said, “I suffered a lot in order not to give approval for the loan to be collected.

“Even the then Deputy Speaker, Isaac Auta Zankhai was against me because I disagreed with the loan to be collected. I told the former governor to look at the number of loans we had on hand and he didn’t listen to me.”

Samuel Kambai and Henry Marah representing Zangon Kataf and Jaba constituencies respectively explained that the duty of the legislators is to give approval before the governor goes ahead to collect loans but in Kaduna the case was different.

Speaker Yusuf Dahiru Liman, who presided over the plenary session, urged the ad hoc committee to invite the Speakers of the 8th and 9th assemblies and all other relevant stakeholders and agencies for investigation.

He assured the House that the matter will be properly looked into, saying they will give everyone the liberty to speak the truth.

He said, “We just want to analyze the last administration’s spendings so that we can stand with our shoulders high by the time we finish from the Assembly.

“We do not want anyone to call us rubber stamp legislators. We’re not going to do this investigation to ridicule anybody but we’ll do the right thing.”

The House however unanimously requested to hand over notes given to incumbent Governor Uba Sani by the previous administration so that it would guide the committee.

The 13-man committee includes: Aminu Anti, representing Doka Gabasawa as Chairman; Yusuf Mugu Kaura as Deputy Chairman; Munira Tanimu; Shehu Yunusa as members and nine others.

The panel was mandated to investigate El-Rufai’s top associate and senior counsellor on investment, Jimi Lawal.

The Assembly also mandated the committee to invite notable personalities, including the former speakers of the 8th and 9th Assembly, commissioners of finance, former managing directors of Kaduna markets, and commissioners of budget and planning, among others.

Governor Sani, during a town hall meeting with stakeholders said the huge debts he inherited from El-Rufai were making it difficult for him to pay salaries as well as carry out projects.

Sani said his administration inherited a huge debt burden of $587 million, N85 billion, and 115 contractual liabilities from his predecessor.

This revelation generated cracks in the Kaduna chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The governor lamented that the state was left with N3 billion, an amount he said was not enough to pay salaries, as the state’s monthly salary bill stood at N5.2 billion.El-Rufai’s son accused the governor of incompetence but the former governor refrained from public comment.

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