lSenate suspends rules for first time to accelerate debate on bill
lReps insist on N30k minimum wage
lVow to conclude legislative work in one week
By Henry Umoru & Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA— The two arms of the National Assembly, Senate and the House of representatives, yesterday, promised to give accelerated consideration of the New Minimum Wage Bill sent to them by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.
While the 8th Senate, for the first time, suspended its rules for the bill to scale first and second reading, the House of Representatives did not only vow to pass the bill within a week but also insisted that the new minimum wage must be N30,000 across board, instead of the N27,000 approved for states and the private sector by National Council of State, NCS.
The Senate, which also set up an eight-member adhoc committee to look at the bill after it passed second reading, also promised to include domestic servants in the new minimum wage envelope.
Members of the adhoc committee include Senate Majority Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye (APC, Osun Central); Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Francis Alimikhena (APC, Edo North), representing the South-South; Senator Abu Ibrahim (APC, Katsina South), who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Labour; and Senator Shehu Sani (PRP, Kaduna Central), representing the North-West.
Others are Senator Sam Egwu (PDP, Ebonyi North), representing South-East; Senator Suleiman Adokwe (PDP, Nasarawa South), North Central; Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos West), representing South-West; and Senator Binta Masi Garba (APC, Adamawa North_, representing North-East.
The committee was given two weeks to conclude its assignment and submit the report.
Speaking during the debate on the bill, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over plenary, noted that the Senate decided to give the National Minimum Wage Bill presented to it by President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, an accelerated hearing due to its importance.
Ekweremadu, who noted that this was the first time the 8th Senate would suspend its rules to take first and second readings of an executive communication, said the wage should accommodate domestic servants, including drivers.
Meanwhile, the Senate, yesterday adjourned plenary till February 19, after the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Reps insist on N30k minimum wage
In the House of Representatives, the bill also passed second reading, as the House constituted an adhoc committee, chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun, to quickly start legislative work on it.
Immediately plenary commenced by 11.22 am, the presiding officer , Speaker Yakubu Dogara, read out President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter requesting for a speedy legislative work on the National Minimum Wage Bill.
In the letter, which was received yesterday morning by the House leadership, the President in the letter said, among others: “The purpose of this letter is to forward to you for legislative action a new Minimum Wage Bill to further amend the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Act. 2011.”
After reading the President’s letter, the speaker called for debates and the recurring words from most lawmakers hinged on the fact that the N27,000 was not adequate and hoped that they endorsed N30,000 as minimum wage.
Earlier, the speaker had vowed that by “Tuesday next week we should have concluded the bill particularly after the adhoc committee’s meeting on Monday.