Nigeria’s minister of Labour and employment, Dr Chris Ngige says Nigerian workers would smile soon, when they begin to reap an enhanced minimum wage.
Ngige who spoke with journalist in Awka said the National Tripartite Committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari has swung into action and would likely conclude all arrangement about the minimum wage in the third quarter of 2018.
The minister said the committee is very important to the president, who has been giving close supervision, and that with the framework already marked out, the committee may finish in the third quarter of the year.
“We had our inaugural meeting on 14th December and we did a frame work for our work. We will finish our job before the third quarters of this year, but we may finish earlier.
“Minimum Wage is a national matter and only the federal government can legislate on it. Labour matter and the issue of national minimum wage is 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 will 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, NECA all make up the committee.
“We have State governors; one from each geo political zone, five minister and the head of service in the committee. States will key into the new minimum wage when we are done because they are part of it.
“Minimum wage will not take care of disparity in salaries. We will fix it, 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 will not reveal yet what he has in mind, but 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(ILO) is ability to pay.
He said the committee will let workers table their request, while the governors representatives and the NECA can look at how feasible it is to pay, just as the workers through NLC can also negotiate with representatives of employers if they propose below their expectations
“For now, I will not tell you what I think is the ideal minimum wage, I will rather say it at the committee. We will put a lot of things into consideration and come up with this an acceptable minimum wage.
By Joe Chukindi