By Ephraim Oseji
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s chieftain in Delta State, Chief Sunny Onuesoke has defended the state governors on the payment of N30,000 minimum wage to workers, stressing that the Federal Government cannot dictate to states how much to pay their workers as minimum wage.
Onuesoke yesterday, while fielding questions from journalists at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on the stand of the state governors on payment of N30,000 minimum wage, explained that the state governors cannot be forced to comply with the consequential adjustment hence payment will be determined majorly by the Internally Generated Revenue of each state and the number of civil servants on their payroll.
He said, “There are some states that have not been able to pay the N18,000 minimum wage. Some states are owing their workers’ salaries for six months and above. How do you expect such states to cope with the recent increase of N30, 000? Double digit salary increases of 29 percent being demanded for higher level officers just because the minimum wage was increased is not realistic. Have they considered their demand to make sure the state government’s finances can pay for it?
“In the advanced countries where budgeting and finances are much better organised and with stronger economies, salary increases are very modest at 1 to 5 percent yearly but then wage freeze are common place until public finances improves when the economy has grown. The Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, officials need to be realistic and consider affordability as there is no magic “money tree.
“Like what Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi said, the best thing is for states governors to have a roundtable talk with their different NLC and discuss what they will be able to pay. States that can pay the minimum wage should pay and those which cannot pay should be able to tell their workers what they can afford base on their economical strength. Forcing it on them will lead to future economic crisis as most state will end up owing workers’ salaries that is more than the present situation.”
He explained that the increase minimum wage would have addressed income inequality by lifting those at the bottom of the wage scale, but this is defeated when those already earning good salary want ridiculous 29 percent increase also.
“Does that mean they just want to maintain the gap between the well off and the poor?” he queried.