PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has assented to the new national minimum wage bill recently passed by the National Assembly, thus raising the national minimum wage from N18,000 to N30,000.
The Act makes it compulsory for all employers of labour to pay their workers a minimum wage of N30,000 excluding persons employing less than 25 workers or persons in other kinds of regulated employment.
Announcing the development on Thursday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, said the Act empowers employees to take legal actions against their employers in the case of refusal to pay the stipulated amount, as well as to recover their balance.
The struggle for an increment in the national minimum wage has been on for a long time as the organised labour tried all within its power to make the government see the need to increase workers’ pay.
The efforts paid off in 2018 as FG eventually set up a tripartite committee, comprising government representatives, members of the organised private sector and members of the organised labour, to come up with a sum that would be acceptable to all involved.
The committee, headed by the former Head of Civil Service, Ama Pepple, after series of deliberations and negotiations, recommended the sum of N30,000 as the new minimum wage, much to the dissatisfaction of the federal government who said it could only pay N24,000.
The state governors, on their part, wanted a much lesser sum than the FG proposed, arguing that many states across the federation were finding it difficult to pay workers salaries with the minimum wage at N18,000, how much more when it is almost doubled. Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state also argued that increasing the national minimum wage could lead to over 300 to 400 per cent increase in the wage bill of state governments
The council of state, made up of former presidents and heads of state, also waded into the deliberations and made its own recommendation of N27,000, taking into consideration the position of the state governors.
However, Labour’s insisted that any increase in the minimum wage less than N30,000 was not acceptable, and even threatened to embark on a nationwide strike on January 8.
Eventually, when the minimum wage bill got to the National Assembly, both the House of Representatives and the Senate approved N30,000 as the new minimum wage before forwarding the passed bill to the president for signing into law.
Buhari on receiving the bill, set up a technical committee, headed by Bismarck Rewane, an economist to advise him on how best to implement the N30,000 new minimum wage as recommended by the lawmakers.
The committee was to “develop, and advise the government on how to successfully bring about a smooth implementation of impending wage increases” as well as “identify new revenue sources, as well as areas of existing expenditure from where some savings could be made in order to fund the wage increases without adversely impacting the nation’s development goals as set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan”.
Rewane and his committee turned in their recommendations to the President on March 25.