…Say they will pay according to Capacity of States
…Admits that FG has commenced monthly deductions of N614 billion bailout funds from Accounts of States
By Henry Umoru
STRONG indications emerged Monday that the controversy surrounding the payment of new national minimum wage of N30,000 will not end as the thirty- six State Governors, under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF Monday resolved that its implementation and consequential increments should be paid depending on the capacity of the states.
Rising from a meeting that lasted five hours yesterday in Abuja, the governors who noted that they can only pay the said wage based on how financially sound and buoyant a state is, said however that they would not be bounded by the federal government’s template on the payment of the new national minimum wage.
Against this backdrop, any state that is able to pay the new minimum wage can do so and it also implies that states that cannot implement it would not be compelled to do so.
Addressing Journalists after the meeting, Chairman of the Forum and Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi explained that the governors took the position based on the fact that states have different number of workers with varied trade unions.
It would be recalled that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had last week directed the National Income and Wages Commission to forward the approved federal government template to state and local governments on advisory basis as, according to it, the new minimum wage law is a federal law.
According to Fayemi, the payment of the consequential increase will depend on the capacity of each state.
When asked to reconcile NGF’s position with that of the federal government, the NGF Chairman said: “The FEC does not determine what happens in the states; states have their own state executive council and that is the highest decision making body at the state level.
“The forum as the representative body of the states keenly followed what happened in the negotiations that transpired that led to that (federal government) template.
“As far as we concerned, the best the forum can do is to stick to with what has been agreed with the states.
“States are part of the tripartite negotiations. States agreed to that N30, 000 minimum wage increase. States also know that there will be consequential adjustment, but that will be determined on what happened on the state-by-state basis because there are different number of workers at state level, there are different issues at the state level.
“Every state has its own trade union joint negotiating committee and they will hold discussions with their state governments.
“You know that the day after this agreement was reached with labour, I was on record and I made the position of the governors clear, that for us, this was a national minimum wage increase, not a general minimum wage review.
“Yes, that may necessitate consequential increment. We have no doubt about that, but that is a matter for the states to discuss with their workers.”
On the N614 billion bailout deductions by the federal government, Fayemi who confirmed that the Federal government has commenced monthly removal of the money from accounts of various states, said, “On the N614 billion bailout deductions, the money is being deducted from states accounts.
The NGF boss who noted that state governors have no problem with the deductions, said, “It has been deducted as far as Iam aware, from state accounts.”
The governors had earlier refused to accept the deductions and insisted that the states were being owed by the federal government on rehabilitation of roads.
It was however gathered at the meeting said the governors during the meeting were bent on not accepting the bailout deductions by the federal government till debts owed states would be settled.
Reading a communique issued at the end of the meeting, Fayemi also said that following a health update by the NGF Secretariat, the forum commended the rapid response of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency to nip the August 2019 yellow fever outbreak which broke out across p of the country.
According to him, members pledged to commit counterpart resources to strengthen mass vaccination campaigns in their respective States.
Fayemi also disclosed that members commended the progress made by state governments through their Social Health Insurance authorities to enroll and provide health insurance cover for citizens across the country. In the last one year.
He revealed that state governments have registered over two million people compared to the five million Nigerians registered under the National Health Insurance Scheme over the last 14 years.
The Forum remembered Dr. Stella Adedavoh, the physician who attended to ‘Patient 0’ during the Ebola Outbreak in 2014 in Lagos State.
Minimum Wage: FG, Labour settle disagreement over Consequential Adjustment(Opens in a new browser tab)
“Dr. Adedavoh died from Ebola virus on 21 st October 2014, but her memory lives on with the dream of ‘Healtheare for all Nigerians,” Fayemi said.
On the Governor Nasir el-Rufai ad hoc committee on excess crude account and other special accounts, Fayemi who explained that it is a National Economic Council (NEC) affair, said that the committee should submit its report to the council today, Tuesday.