STATE governors are not comfortable with the ongoing negotiations between the federal government and the organised labour for a possible increase in minimum wage.
They are concerned about how to raise revenue to pay additional wage demanded by the workers union.
While addressing newsmen on the outcome of the NGF meeting on Thursday, governor of Zamfara State and the Chairman of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum, Abdulaziz Yari, said the issue is not about increasing the minimum wage, but how to raise the required revenue to pay.
“The problem of states is the capacity to pay what is agreed. As we are talking today we are struggling with N18,000. Some of the states are paying 35 per cent, some 50 per cent and still some states have salary arrears. So it is not about only reviewing it but how we are going to get the resources to cater for it,” he said.
Many states across the federation are owing workers several months of salary arrears despite interventions by the federal government to help them clear the backlogs.
President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Ministry of Finance, had given indebted states a financial bailout, with strict instructions that the funds were to be used to clear salary and pension arrears. Also, states have received two tranches of monies from the Paris Club refund, yet, many remain indebted, or have been paying workers only a percentage of the salaries.
On the issue of increasing the national minimum wage, a tripartite committee — made up of members of the organised labour, the organised private sector, and representatives of the federal government — has been brainstorming on the matter for some time now with little or no success.
While Labour is asking for an upward of N50,000 as the new minimum wage, the federal government, represented by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, says it can only pay N24,000.