By Vincent Ujumadu
AWKA—PUBLIC officers expecting to start enjoying enhanced minimum wage soon may have to wait longer as the federal government committee on the issue and the state governors were yet to arrive at acceptable figures.
Minister of labour and employment, Senator Chris Ngige told reporters in Awka that although the committee was expected to conclude work on the new minimum wage by the end of this month, the date was no longer feasible because the final document had not been fine-tuned.
He said: “I am the deputy chairman of the committee and I drive it. We have a timetable and we are expected to finish everything about it by the end of this August, but it is not attainable anymore because even in the committee, we have not agreed on any figure.
“We could not agree on a figure because of two reasons. One is that the state governors have not come up with a figure and the state governors are a critical constituent of this discussion. They have six governors in the committee, one from each geo-political zone.
“The Governors Forum said they are still working on it and that was the last submission they made to us and the federal government team. We are working with the Economic Management Team and since the team dictates the economy of the country, they will take whatever the governors come up with and fine-tune it with that of the federal government committee. That is where we are.
“Therefore, the national minimum wage tripartite committee is still at work and it is until that body brings out its figures and recommendations pertaining to national minimum wage, that a bill can be sent to the National Assembly to process and send to Mr. President for it to become a National Minimum Wage Act. If that can happen in 2018, it becomes Act 2018.”
He also spoke on the allowances for members of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, explaining that the committee had not concluded it because no recommendation had come to the Federal Executive Council.
Ngige said further: “As a matter of fact, some ministries, such as Youth and Sports, my ministry, Women Affairs and Budget and Planning, have been asked to make our input. However, the important thing to note is that whatever increase that would be made on the allowances of NYSC members would be hinged on the envisaged new minimum wage.
“The allowances of the NYSC persons will be on the same sliding scale with the national minimum wage, except that it is a top up,. That is why today the national minimum wage is N18, 000, and the top up for NYSC members is about N1, 500, making it N19, 500.
“This is the allowance the Federal government will give to them. Areas or persons and bodies or agencies where they do their primary assignments can also give them what they call special allowances and that is irrespective of this monthly stipend from federal government.
“Their employers in their places of primary assignment can give them another top-up so that in some establishments you see them paying extra N10, 000 to the NYSC persons some are as generous as even giving N20, 000, which is about the same thing that they earn.”