UPDATE: Council of State okays N27,000 new minimum wage

Council has no fact on opposition security threat;           Receives briefing from INEC on election

The National Council of State has approved the sum of N27,000 as the new national minimum wage.

The bill on the recommendation is to be transmitted to the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Organisations with less than 25 personnel have been exempted from applying it.

According to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who briefed State House correspondents after the council meeting at the presidential villa, Abuja, the amount is only the benchmark.

He said the Federal Government will pay N30,000 to its workers.

Ngige asserted that the approved amount is subject to review after five years.

Recall that the Federal Government had offered to pay 24,000; states, 22,500 whereas the organised labour are demanding N30,000.

Ngige said: “The issue of the national minimum wage as you are aware, we have had a series of consultations on the new national minimum wage starting from the inauguration of the tripartite committee in September 2017 by Mr President.

“This committee was to handle all the issues surrounding the new minimum wage. It made use of laws, constitution, conventions on minimum wage fixing and specialist bodies like the National Bureau of Statistics, NISER and all other bodies that have to do with economic research.

“The Federal Executive Council received the report. After a tortuous debate, at that level, treated it. The National Economic Council comprising the governors and the vice-president chairing looked at the report and finally today, the Council of State.

“These three organs have permitted Mr President now to transmit to the National Assembly the new National Minimum Wage Bill.

“Thus, in consonance with the fact that the issues of national minimum wage prescription are in the exclusive list, second schedule, item 34 and being on that list, it is not a job that can be done by the executive alone. The president has to transmit the bill to the National Assembly and the National Assembly will take legislative action and return the bill that has been so treated to the president for his assent.

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“So, a bill will now be transmitted to the National Assembly that will amend the 1981 Act and 2011 Act.

“The highlight is what you want to know. The figure of N27,000 monthly has been approved for transmission to the National Assembly.

“The frequency of the review of the bill is five years, to get it in consonance with pension law of the federation as enshrined in the constitution.

“Exemptions to this bill will be establishments that are not employing people up to the number of 25. The various times prescribed have also been altered in the bill and will be sent to the National Assembly before the close of work tomorrow (Wednesday).”

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State spoke on the briefing received by the Council from the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, saying that the council did not have facts on the threat to the coming election by opposition and terrorists.

Recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has raised an alarm that the opposition had recruited terrorists to truncate the election to pave way for an interim national government.

But when asked what the Council made of the threat, Akeredolu said: “I am not too sure that we have that fact.”

He added: “Seriously, there was no discussion on that. As we mentioned to you, what we received was a briefing by INEC on how prepared they are for the election. So, their level of preparedness that was what we listened to. There is no way INEC will come and tell us, they have information on what opposition is doing or what opposition is not doing but what INEC is doing is what was received and there was no discussion about that.”

He said the INEC boss has assured of the commission’s preparedness for the election and has all the money it needs for the implementation.

Akeredolu stated: “The council was briefed by the INEC chairman and the briefing as accepted by everybody was lucid and clear. It was all-encompassing. The INEC chairman took the council through all the processes that are going to be followed at the national and state elections.

ALSO READ: ULC rejects FG’s N27000 minimum wage

“In his briefing, he informed the council of the preparedness of INEC and everybody in the council was convinced that INEC was ready for this election. And a lot of things have been put in place and I think we all concluded that it is important for the chairman to even speak to the nation on the preparedness of INEC for this election. That would convince all of us that this forthcoming election would be free and fair and then the way we see it.

“They have improved card readers, the details of what have been done to improve it was made known. It was made known that look, the process of continuous voting and accreditation system was the best so that when you are accredited, you vote at the same time and you leave.

“He also informed the council on all the necessary ballot boxes and everything to be used and change in the ballot boxes. He also informed us that rather than using collapsible ballot boxes, they are going to use framed ballot boxes, transparent ones because we have lost so many and a lot have been purchased.

“He also told the council that they are not lacking in terms of finance and that all the money appropriated, have been given to them and they are ready for the election. And he went further to inform the council that all training and retraining of every category of staff that they will use have started and they are having consultations with every group of people, religious, artisans and trade unions and so on to let them know.

“He has informed us that there is no way they are going to go out of the category of people they use for election when it comes to the issue of University vice-chancellors, University students at times, and NYSC members.

“So, everybody was convinced. INEC as at today is ready for election and questions were put, he was interrogated and he responded and gave adequate explanations to the satisfaction of every one of us.”

On the alarm raised by former President Olusegun Obasanjo concerning the possible manipulation of the election, Akeredolu stressed the need for all to have confidence in the electoral process.

He said: “Election will only be successful by the participation of everybody and that whatever it may be, we will take politics out of the exercise.

“All of us owe a duty as leaders of our people at least, to be sure that we have confidence in the electoral body so, that at the end of the day, assist the electoral body to succeed. And I think the message is very clear to everybody. I think that all of us in the hall have heard that look, whatever it is, we have now listened to the chairman of INEC and we are convinced that they are prepared for the election.

“I am not sure any other person will come out to talk about INEC any longer. So, the point has been made, all of us now have our hands on deck to ensure the success. Because, without our participation, without our cooperation, INEC itself cannot be successful.”

Apart from Obasanjo, other former Nigerian leaders that attended the council presided over by President Buhari were former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar; former Chairman of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, and former President Goodluck Jonathan.

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