By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA —PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has pleaded with the organised private sector not to retrench their workers in a bid to pay the new N30,000 national minimum wage.
The President also assured Nigerian workers that he was committed to ensure the payment of a new national minimum wage to better the lives of the citizenry.
President Buhari, who addressed Lagos Business Community on the sideline of the ongoing All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential campaign, said he would continue to stand firm with the workers on the implementation of a new minimum wage.
While showering praises on the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, on his efforts towards ensuring that the workers had a new wage, the President described him as very competent and efficient.
At the meeting were the Organized Private Sector; Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA, Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, Nigerian Employers Consultative Association, NECA, captains of industries and financial experts.
Reading a prepared speech, President Buhari stunned his audience when he turned down the usual standing ovation, asking them to rather sit down and hear another story he had to tell about the National Minimum Wage.
President Buhari said he had been in support of a New Minimum Wage right from the start because of the prevailing inflationary rate and the rising cost of living since the last Minimum Wage came into effect in 2011, adding, however, that he had little reservation which an Hausa folklore would best express.
He said though he was not Hausa, rather a mixture of Fulani by father and Kanuri by mother, the Daura where he was born and grew up was a pure Hausa settlement.
The folklore, the President narrated was about a certain mentally deranged Hausa woman who went to the bush to fetch firewood.
“The woman after tying a load of firewood, discovered she would not be able to lift it, yet certain passersby urged her to gather more firewood since she had so many people to feed.
“The woman paid heed and gathered even more firewood and ended up not being able to either lift her initial load of firewood or the later additions,’’ the President narrated.
He recalled that many states as well as private sector players could not pay the existing Minimum Wage, which prompted the Federal Government to give bailout to some states.
President Buhari, therefore, appealed for the commitment of all stakeholders to ensure the smooth implementation of the new wage without retrenchment and its consequent adverse social effects.