Minimum Wage: ‘Suspend non-revenue generating frivolities’ – States can pay more than N60,000, Labour hits govs

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Organised Labour has strongly refuted the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) assertion that states cannot afford a N60,000 minimum wage, urging governors to avoid plunging the country into a severe crisis.

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Speaking on behalf of Labour, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) accused the governors of misrepresenting their financial capacities. According to the NLC, the claim that states would have to use all their monthly allocations to pay workers’ salaries if the federal government’s proposed N60,000 minimum wage is implemented is misleading.

Halima Ahmed, Acting Director of Media Affairs and Public Relations of NGF, had earlier noted that the N60,000 proposal was unrealistic, suggesting that many states might end up borrowing to meet the wage demands.

However, Benson Upah, NLC’s Head of Information and Public Affairs, countered this argument by pointing out that the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) allocations have significantly increased from N700 billion to N1.2 trillion, thereby enhancing the states’ capacity to pay more than N60,000 as minimum wage.

Upah stated, “Nothing can be further from the truth as FAAC allocations have since grown from N700 billion to N1.2 trillion, making the governments extremely rich at the expense of the people. We are alarmed by the statement credited to the Nigeria Governors Forum that state governments cannot even afford to pay N60,000 as minimum wage as ‘a few states will end up borrowing to pay workers every month’.”

He criticized the timing of the governors’ statement, calling it an act of bad faith, especially amidst ongoing negotiations. Upah emphasized that the governors only need to cut the high cost of governance, minimize corruption, and prioritize the welfare of workers to meet the wage demands.

Upah explained the purpose of a national minimum wage, stating, “A national minimum wage is not synonymous with the different pay structures of different states. The national minimum wage is the lowest floor below which no employer is allowed to pay. The aim is to protect the weak and the poor.”

He highlighted the economic disparity by comparing the current exchange rates and inflation rates to those in 2019 when the minimum wage was last set. “In 2019, when N30,000 became the minimum, N300 exchanged for $1 while the inflation rate was 11.40%. At the moment, the exchange rate is at N1,600 to $1 while inflation hovers at 33.7%,” he noted, adding that the real value of the minimum wage has drastically decreased due to economic changes.

Upah also criticized government policies such as the removal of fuel subsidies, devaluation of the Naira, energy tariff hikes, and increased interest rates, which he said have exacerbated economic hardships for the poor and strained the manufacturing sector.

He warned that continuing to pay a meager national minimum wage would have severe repercussions not only for the workforce but also for the national economy, which is significantly driven by workers’ wages. “Paying a miserable national minimum wage portends grave danger to not only the workforce but also the national economy,” he said.

In conclusion, the NLC urged the governors to reconsider their stance and work towards a solution that would prevent further economic and social crises in the country.

OyinyeChukwu Paula
OyinyeChukwu Paulahttp://Vetiva%20Research
OyinyeChukwu Paula Position: Business Journalist, Naija247news OyinyeChukwu Paula is an accomplished business journalist contributing her expertise to Naija247news, one of Nigeria's leading news platforms. With a keen interest in economic affairs, financial markets, and corporate developments, Paula brings a wealth of knowledge to her reporting, delivering insightful analyses on the dynamic business landscape in Nigeria and beyond. Education: Paula holds a degree in Journalism from [Abia State University], where she honed her skills in investigative reporting and business journalism. Her academic background laid the foundation for her commitment to delivering accurate and timely news with a business-focused perspective. Professional Experience: Having amassed experience in the field, Paula's journalistic journey has been marked by a dedication to uncovering stories that impact the business community. Her work spans interviews with key industry figures, coverage of market trends, and in-depth analyses of economic policies. Areas of Expertise: Financial Markets: Paula provides comprehensive coverage of financial markets, offering insights into stock movements, currency fluctuations, and economic indicators. Corporate Affairs: With a focus on corporate activities, Paula delves into mergers and acquisitions, financial reports, and the strategies employed by leading companies. Economic Policy: Keeping a watchful eye on government policies, Paula explores their implications on businesses and the broader economy, providing readers with a nuanced understanding of economic developments. Contributions to Naija247news: Paula's bylines at Naija247news reflect her commitment to delivering quality journalism. Whether unraveling complex financial narratives or simplifying intricate economic concepts, she ensures that her audience is well-informed and empowered. Passion for Business Journalism: Beyond the newsroom, Paula is known for her passion for business journalism's role in fostering transparency and accountability. She believes in the power of information to drive positive change and economic growth. In a media landscape marked by rapid changes, OyinyeChukwu Paula stands out as a dedicated business journalist who continues to shape the discourse on economic matters, contributing significantly to Naija247news's mission of delivering credible and impactful news.

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