The push for a new National Minimum Wage in Nigeria is gaining momentum, with glimpse of light increasingly showing at the end of the tunnel.
On Wednesday, the process to ensure that the workers’ new pay got enshrined in the laws of the land got to a new height, with President Buhari setting up a Technical Committee that will be headed by renowned Economist and Financial Expert, Bismarck Rewane.
They are saddled with the responsibility of advising the government on how best to fund, in a sustained manner, the additional costs that will arise from the implementation of the consequential increases in salaries and allowances for workers currently earning above the new minimum wage.
As much as this hope that the monthly credit alert of some workers will soon change, the President reminded them that in civil service it is not one fate for all.
While addressing a gathering at the inauguration of the Technical Committee, the President, who acknowledge that the minimum wage, which was last raised in 2011, was due for review, said those who were already earning above what the new wage would be would have their salaries adjusted.
“However, we anticipate that after the new minimum wage has been passed into law we will be going into negotiations for salary review for all the workers who are already earning above the new minimum wage. It is therefore important that we are properly prepared to meet these demands.
“We must therefore look at ways of implementing these consequential wage adjustments in a manner that does not have adverse effects on our national development plans, as laid out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
“The ERGP sets appropriate targets for levels of Capital Expenditure, Public Debt, Inflation, Employment, etc. It is absolutely important that the implementation of a new minimum wage does not adversely affect these targets, and thereby erode the envisaged gains for the workers.
“It is against this background that I have set up a Technical Committee,” he said.
President Buhari, however, assured the workers that provision had been made for the increment.
“I want to make it clear that there is no question about whether the National Minimum Wage will be reviewed upwards. I am committed to a review of the Minimum Wage.
“Also, it is important to explain that even though the subject of a National Minimum Wage is in the Exclusive Legislative List, we have been meeting with the State Governors because it is imperative that the Federal Government carries the State Governments along in determining any upward review of the minimum wage for workers.
“This is especially necessary considering the prevailing public sector revenue challenges, which have made it extremely difficult for some of the governments to pay workers as and when due.
“As you know we, at the Federal level, have made adequate provision for the increase in the Minimum Wage in our 2019 Budget proposals which we submitted to the National Assembly. Therefore, we will be able to meet the additional costs that will be incurred in moving up all personnel who are currently earning below the new minimum wage,” he told the gathering.
State governors have been accused by labour unions of sabotaging the process of the increment, as some of them had expressed the state’s inability to pay.
To help ensure that the huddles are scaled, the Technical Committee, according to President Buhari, will develop, and advise government on how to successfully bring about a smooth implementation of impending wage increases and identify new revenue sources, as well as areas of existing expenditure from where some savings could be made in order to fund the wage increases without adversely impacting the nation’s development goals as set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
Members will also propose a work plan and modalities for the implementation of the salary increases and any other suggestions that will assist in the implementation of this, and future wage increases.
Workers are expecting to get assurance on the new pay before the general election, or they would embark on a planned strike.
President Buhari knows this and he has given the Committee one month to complete its deliberations and submit its report and recommendations.