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Disappointment as Tinubu, govs keep mum on minimum wage

President Bola Tinubu and the governors of Nigeria’s 36 states remained silent on the issue of minimum wage following Thursday’s National Economic Council (NEC) meeting.


Hopes had been high among millions of Nigerians and organised labour members that both federal and state governments would address the protracted issue, which has been unresolved since the removal of the fuel subsidy on May 29, 2023 – the day Tinubu assumed office – and the expiration of the N30,000 minimum wage agreement established in 2019.


The NEC meeting, which is typically chaired by Vice President Kashim Shettima, saw the attendance of President Tinubu, further raising expectations that the long-awaited new minimum wage threshold would finally be determined.


It’s worth noting that the 37-member Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage, chaired by former Head of Service Bukar Aji, had presented its report to President Tinubu weeks earlier, following approximately five months of deliberations.


During his Democracy Day address on June 12, 2024, President Tinubu announced that a consensus had been reached and that a proposal would be forwarded to the National Assembly. However, organized labor refuted this claim, asserting they were unaware of any such agreement.


Simultaneously, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) rejected the previously proposed N62,000 minimum wage, stating that certain states would need to borrow funds to meet this requirement.


Currently, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) are demanding a minimum wage of N250,000.


Earlier this week, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) postponed the discussion on the proposed new minimum wage for workers.


Following the NEC meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, there was no mention of the minimum wage. Governors who spoke to the press did not address the topic. Instead, President Tinubu approved a one-time allocation of N10 billion to states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for the procurement of buses and the CNG “uplift programme.”


This allocation is part of a new initiative dubbed the “National Construction and Household Support Programme.”


In a statement, presidential spokesman Ajuri Ngelale outlined the programme, which includes N50,000 uplift grants for 100,000 families per state for three months and provisions for labor unions and civil society organizations.


Additionally, Ngelale announced the deployment of N155 billion for the purchase and distribution of assorted foodstuffs nationwide, aiming to enhance agricultural productivity, stimulate the economy through opportunities in agriculture, manufacturing, and construction, and provide immediate economic relief to Nigerians.


The statement also highlighted the prioritization of road infrastructure projects, such as the ongoing Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway and the Trans-Saharan Highway connecting Enugu, Abakaliki, Ogoja, Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa, and Abuja.

 

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