November 2, 2023

Wage award, 40% salary increase:  FG dashes hope of workers, can’t pay MDAs

New naira

By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor

Abuja-The are indications that the Federal Government’s promise to pay additional N35,000 wage to its workers for six months may have run into a hitch due to lack of cash.

Findings by Vanguard indicate that the Federal Government does not have enough money to pay all federal employees as it initially announced when it removed subsidy on premium motor spirit (petrol) in May 2023.

When President Bola Tinubu entered into a memorandum of understanding, MoU, with the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, on October 2 this year, he had accepted to pay N35,000 to each federal government worker in addition to the payment of 40 per cent special salary increase to the workers all in a bid to cushion the effects of the subsidy removal.

The announcement was well received by workers, even though the NLC expressed some reservations about the awards announced by the Presidency.

However, while all federal workers were expectant of getting more cash from the federal treasury following the promise, Vanguard gathered that the federal government does not have the required money to pay all categories of workers under its employ.

The lack of cash to pay the workers has been expressly communicated to the respective government agencies by the government, which has also asked them to source for funds and pay their workers, rather than expect any funding from the federation account.

It was learned that while the government has since paid workers under what it called “treasury-funded staff”, workers in most departments and agencies that collect their allocations from the consolidated revenue funds, will not be paid by the federal government.

Rather than being paid directly by the government, the affected federal MDAs have been ordered to source for funds internally to pay their workers both the N35,000 wage award and the 40 per cent special salary increase, a directive that has left most of the MDAs frustrated as workers prepare for a fight with them over non-payment, like their counterparts in ministries.

Indication of the Federal Government’s inability to pay all the workers under its employ emerged when the National Incomes and Wages Commission wrote to the Chief of Staff to the President, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, ministers and heads of government parastatals and agencies, telling them the category of workers who should be paid and those to fend for themselves.

In the memo dated October 19, 2023, with reference: SWC.04/T/33, the National Incomes and Wages Commission, NIWC, asked all the MDAs on consolidated revenue not to expect government allocation in paying the award to their workers.

Although most of them are not revenue generating agencies, the Income and Wages Commission in the memo signed by the chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Ekpo Nta, asked them to either use their ”internally-generated revenue to pay their workers or rely on statutory allocation to pay same.”

The memo sighted exclusively by Vanguard, read: “I refer to the Memorandum of Understanding reached between the government of Nigeria and the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, on Monday, October 2, 2023, as a result arising from withdrawal of subsidy on the price of premium motor spirit and hereby convey the approval of the President and Commander Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the grant of N35,000:00 only per month to all federal workers, with effect from September 1, 2023, pending when minimum wage is expected to have been signed into law.

Accordingly, the implementation of the N35,000,00 per month wage award for all federal government ministries, departments and agencies will be funded from the treasury. 

”Non-treasury funded Federal Government agencies are to implement same from their internally generated revenue, IGR, or statutory allocations.

Enquiries concerning this circular should be directed to the National Incomes and Wages Commission.’

But most of the MDAs being asked by the government to look inwards for cash to pay the wage award and the 40 per cent salary increase, are confused and worried over government’s position, as they lack the resources to pay.

Some of the workers, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent yesterday, said they were shocked that the NIWC could turn around to circumvent the decision of the President to pay all workers from its till without discrimination between ‘treasury and non-treasury-funded agencies.

“We strongly suspect that Mr. President has not been properly briefed by the NIWC on the implementation of his wage award and salary increment with the NLC and it is impossible for most of the MDAs excluded from Service Wide Vote payment to secure cash to pay their agitated workers,” a chief executive officer of one of the federal parastatals, said yesterday.

Vanguard gathered that many workers’ unions have already confronted heads of MDAs with threats to disrupt their operations if they are not paid promptly as their counterparts in core federal ministries.