THE Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, gave an indication on Tuesday that against all expectation and earlier promised by the Federal Government, Nigerian workers may not enjoy a new minimum wage this year.
The government had during the inauguration of the Tripartite committee on the new National Minimum wage promised that the government would conclude the process and new minimum wage will come to effect at the third quarter of the year, the end of September to be specific.
Since then, and to show its sincerity and commitment to the promise, the committee immediately swung into action and held public hearing across the six geo-political zones of the country.
However, as Nigerians celebrate Democracy Day on Tuesday, the minister of Labour hinted that the expectations of workers in getting a new national minimum wage by the end of September 2018 May not materialize after all.
Ngige declared that the September date earlier promised was just a date to conclude negotiation on the issue of minimum wage.
The minister told newsmen in Abuja that the committee on the new National Minimum wage is expected to conclude its work by the end of September and present its report to the government for deliberation and approval.
According to me, it after the government might have deliberated and satisfied with the report that an executive bill would be sent to the National Assembly for the legislative process.
The minister also raises the critical issue of the capacity of employers to pay, saying that this is very paramount in the deliberations on the minimum wage.
He said the committee embarked on zonal public hearing across the country purposely to get the input of all those concerned including state governments and the organised private sector.
The Minister, however, revealed that in the course of the zonal public hearings, many state governments made different submissions ranging from N22,000 to N58,000 monthly.
More importantly, he said the governors also raised an issue that for the new minimum wage to become effective, the current revenue allocation formula will have to be reviewed in favour of the states and local government.
Ngige stated further that some other states are also of the view that the minimum wage should be maintained at the current N18,000 in view of the inability of some states to pay the current wages.
Ngige explained that when the minimum wage committee concludes its report, it will be submitted to the National Council of State and the Federal Executive Council for approval before a bill is sent to the National Assembly to legalize the work of the committee.
He pointed out that it was in order to carry everybody, including the states and private sector along that six governors, were elected to be members of the committee as well as representatives of the organised private sector.
The minister appealed to the striking health workers to return to work while negotiations continue on their demands, pointing out that the delay in the implementation of their signed agreement was as a result of the failure of the National Salaries, Wages and Income Commission to defend the two different figure presented to a government high powered committee.
He said the committee has directed the commission and the Federal Ministry of Health to go back and recompile the figures for onward submission to the committee for deliberation.