LAGOS—THE umbrella body for senior public servants in the country, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN, yesterday in Lagos, accused the state governors of using the threat to reduce the N18,000 minimum wage or reduce the workforce to avoid entering into negotiation with organised labour for the upward review of the National Minimum Wage as required by law.
ASCSN advised governors who were tired of governance because of fall in revenue allocation and downward slide in the price of oil in the international market to resign immediately and allow more serious minded individuals, who are prepared to harness resources of the states for the benefit of the people including workers, take up the mantle of leadership.
The body recalled that the National Minimum Wage Act was signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 after both houses of the National Assembly passed it into law, with a proviso for it to be reviewed up after five years.
In a statement by ASCSN’s President, Bobboi Bala Kaigama, and the Secretary-General, Alade Bashir Lawal, the body warned of dire consequences, which might include the shut-down of the state governments, if the governors carried out their threat to reduce the N18,000 monthly minimum wage or embark on massive retrenchment of workers.
It expressed shocked that the Governors that had not deemed it fit to reduce their humongous salaries and allowances were bent on jettisoning the 18,000 monthly minimum wage so that they could begin to pay as low as 5,000 monthly to workers, contending that “Given current high cost of living, the 18,000 monthly minimum wage cannot even last the average worker one week and yet the Governors are bent on reducing it This is very unfortunate because these Governors allocate to themselves, on the average, one billion naira monthly as Security Vote and spend nothing less than 18,000 daily to feed one of their animal pets or buy recharge cards for one of their children or worse still for one of their numerous girl friends.”
The ASCSN recalled that as soon as the National Minimum Wage Act was passed in 2011, the Nigerian Governors Forum set up a Committee led by the then Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, to examine the financial implications of the new salary regime.
“It is on record that the Fashola Committee came up with the verdict that the State Governors cannot pay the new Salary regime unless the revenue formula was restructured. Thus, if not for the nation-wide protests embarked upon by workers and their Trade Unions, most of the Governors would not have implemented the N18,000 monthly minimum wage in the first instance. It is, therefore, not true that the Governors are now opposing the minimum wage because of the shortfall in crude oil revenue. The truth of the matter is that the Governors never wanted to pay the 18,000 monthly minimum wage to their workers,” the Union emphasized.
ASCSN posited that there was no state in the country that did not have natural resources but instead of harnessing them, they preferred to wait for monthly handouts and now bailouts from Abuja to administer their states.
It stressed that if the State Governments could reduce wastages, tackle corruption, and moderate their greed as suggested by Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, there would be more than enough money to pay enhanced minimum wage and carry out meaningful development in their States.
The ASCSN recalled that while formulating the Minimum Wage Fixing Convention No. 131 of 1970, the body of experts of the International Labour Organization (ILO) emphasized, among other views, that the minimum wage should be premised on the: “needs of workers and their families, the cost of living, social security benefits, and the relative living standards of other social groups.”
“The ILO also expects member nations to adjust minimum wage regularly in order to maintain the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) of the affected workers in the face of price increases and to avoid large occasional shocks to the economy because the welfare of poor workers and their households critically depends on both their wages and the prices that confront them in the markets. It is to avoid entering into negotiation with the Trade Unions to pay a living wage to Nigerian workers that the Governors are now saying that they are unable to pay N18,000 monthly minimum wage. But they are only deceiving themselves,” the Union emphasized. The Union warned the Governors not to toy with the retrogressive idea of either reducing workers’ salaries or embarking on retrenchment because such a policy would be vehemently resisted by the Trade Union movement.
It advised Governors who were tired of governance because of fall in revenue allocation and downward slide in the price of oil in the international market to resign immediately and allow more serious minded individuals, who were prepared to harness resources of the States for the benefit of the people including workers, take up the mantle of leadership.