By Anayo Okoli
Umuahia – Chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum, Mr. Peter Obi, yesterday restated the assurance of governors in the zone to pay the N18,000 minimum wage.
Governor Obi, who is governor of Anambra State, said governors in the zone were the first to accept to pay the N18, 000 minimum wage, stressing that their position had not changed.
Obi, who spoke to journalists in Umuahia, at the end of a weekend retreat held at Hotel Royal Damggrete for lawmakers, said though the position of South East governors to pay the minimum wage did not receive much publicity or applause from organized labour, the governors had been working towards ensuring that they paid the amount to their workers.
“We pleaded with the federal government to review what we receive here. A newspaper report stated that a particular state receives 20% revenue more than the entire five South East states put together. And they expect us to pay the same wage as this particular state.
“Our stand is that we will pay the N18, 000, but looking at the relativity of our income, if I pay this N18, 000, it is going to be 100% increase. Going by the reality of our income, we can’t do this. Some states have accepted to pay N14, 000 of this N18, 000 statutory minimum,”Obi said.
On why he joined the lawmakers in the retreat, he explained that though the retreat was for members of the state House of Assembly, he had to join them as governor of the state.
Asked why Abia State was chosen for the retreat, the governor said: “We chose to come to Abia State to be able to show people that we can enjoy the confines and comfort of such a retreat in the state and show that Abia is very safe.
“We have been here for three days and had no incident and we enjoyed ourselves, had good times socializing with the people and by so doing, impacting on building a better South East and Ndigbo as well as helping us in building a better Nigeria.
“We will be able to use it for better governance of Anambra State and be able to contribute in building a better South East and Nigeria, which is one of the reasons for the retreat.”