Tony Okafor, Awka
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has said President Muhammadu Buhari is desirous to give Nigerian workers an enhanced pay package this year.
He said the thinking of the Federal Government was to approve a minimum wage that would be acceptable to all stakeholders.
He said a National Tripartite Committee set up by President Buhari on minimum wage had commenced work and would likely conclude the exercise in the third quarter of this year.
Ngige said the committee was very dear to Buhari, who had given close supervision.
He said, “We had our inaugural meeting on December 14 and we did a framework for our work. We will finish our job before the third quarter of this year, but we may finish earlier.
“Minimum wage is a national matter and only the Federal Government can legislate on it. Labour matters and the issue of national minimum wage are in the exclusive list.
“President Buhari is monitoring it strictly, and I am monitoring it too. I wear a double cap as minister of labour, who is the regulator and also as the deputy chairman of the committee.”
Ngige said the committee would work to come out with an acceptable minimum wage, saying that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, representatives of the Nigerian workers, and the Nigerian Employers Consultative Assembly made up the committee.
“We will fix a minimum wage, but states can pay more than that. I give you an example, today minimum wage is N18,500, but Adams Oshiomhole was paying N25,000 before he left office.
“Minimum wage is just to set the baseline, but states can pay more.”
On what Nigerians should expect as the minimum wage, Ngige said he would not reveal that , but that he would rather table it before the committee and back it up “with productivity indices.”
He said one of the cardinal principle of negotiating wages as stipulated by the International Labour Organisation was ability to pay.