Nigerian governors will eventually reduce the federal minimum wage of N18,000 or downsize because of the current economic crunch, the chairman of the body of governors has said.
The chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum and Zamfara state governor, Abdulaziz Yari, said on Thursday that irrespective of public condemnations of the plan, it would not be economically feasible to retain the same workforce and pay same amount of money.
According to him, funds allocated from the Federation Account could no longer sustain the expenses of the state as the internally generated revenue was still below par in some states.
Governors had two weeks ago declared that they could no longer cope with the N18, 000 minimum wage. The pronouncement caused a stir as Nigerians kicked against it.
The governors of Rivers and Edo rejected the plan.
Emerging from a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House Abuja, on Thursday, Mr. Yari said the governors were considering the nation’s economic situation.
“What we said is that when the National Assembly enacted the law of paying N18, 000 minimum wage, then the oil was about $118 per barrel and today where we are oil is $41 per barrel.
“So, if it continues like that definitely we will find it difficult to continue. We have to sit down with the labour and see how we can review; either continue or downsizing, or see what we are going to do.
“We want to find a solution because we have to be realistic that we have so many things to touch. There is infrastructure deficit, there is need for security, there are other things like social lives of our people and nation as a state,” he said.
The governor said from the federation account, some states received N400 million, N500 million while others received N55 million.
“And there are other issues, not even the salary, their pension is over a billion. So, how can we continue borrowing and servicing the service aspect of our expenditure, or overhead. How can we do that?
“But what we have on ground now will not be realistic if it continues the way it is without having other sources from the economy and still relying on oil that is being sold for $118 dollar per barrel and now down to $41 and think that we can continue behaving or misbehaving the way we are doing, if there is anything like that,” he added.
What will Nigerians make of this new excuse? Well, here is a response.
Former Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu, has advised governors who are not willing to sustain the 18,000 Naira minimum wage for workers to resign from office.
Aremu, speaking at the 18th Joint Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), said that such governors have no reason to lead the people, or remain in office.
Presenting a paper titled, “Government Patronage of Made-In-Nigeria Products, A Panacea For Industrial Growth and Development”, Aremu noted that one of the ways Nigerians would judge the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari and all the 36 state governors, would be their ability to resuscitate the collapsed industries in the country and create more jobs.
He expressed worry that the nation might be in for more trouble if the alarming rate of unemployment is not properly addressed.
The former NLC Vice President also identified lack of road infrastructure as one of the factors that led to the collapse of the industries.
He appealed to the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, to do his best possible, to reinvent the nation’s roads.