A showdown is looming between organised labour and state governors over the implementation of the consequential adjustment to the new minimum wage, following conflicting statements by the governors on their preparedness to pay.
Although some of the governors have pledged to pay and Kaduna State has even started paying, the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) recently declared that the agreement between the federal government and labour on consequential adjustments on the new minimum wage is not binding on states.
Some of the governors are already canvassing an upward review of the revenue allocation to the states to enable them cope with the financial implications of the new minimum wage.
But labour is not ready for any excuses and has warned governors who are not prepared to pay to resign.
The Secretary, Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC), Alade Lawal, and President, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Quadri Olaleye, told The Nation in separate interviews in Abuja that while workers are willing to negotiate with willing governors on the matter, they will not hesitate to stand up to those who may not want to pay.
Lawal dismissed the fresh agitation for more revenue allocation by the states as “a ploy to truncate the entire process of implementing a minimum wage and consequential adjustment.”
But he said it was too late in the day for any governor to resort to such tactics.
He said: “If you are saying they want revenue allocation sharing formula to be reviewed, are they not aware that minimum wage is a law and it is subject to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention?
“Every five years, you will be reviewing upward minimum wage because the formulators of the laws know that a lot of things would have happened within the national economy to meet needs that you had earlier agreed.
“Are they saying that if you review the revenue allocation sharing formula now, the next one (review of minimum wage) you will also review revenue allocation sharing formula? And then the next one? At a stage, they (governors) will be having 100 per cent.
“By the time they have 100 per cent, federal will have zero and others will have zero. As you move forward, they will be asking for more percentage. Can you go above 100 per cent?
“As far as we are concerned, the calls are uncalled for. It is not necessary. Within the limit of the resources they have, they can implement very easily.
“Some of them see their respective states as their personal properties. That is just the tragedy of the whole situation, and the moment they wake up to the reality that they are just there to lead the governance of those states to prosperity, the better for all of us.
“When these states were being created, there were lots of noise here and there that they could stand on their own even without federal government allocation, without federal government assistance and support. Now the states have been created, some people are now telling us the stories of I will need a revenue allocation sharing formula to be reviewed.
“What is the percentage the increased minimum wage is going to have on their wage bill? The only thing is that they are not prepared to reduce their greed. I know there are many amongst them who are already preparing to engage with labour. When we go about those ones, it will be clearer. Those ones that want to be difficult, we will move in to do the needful.
“Any governor that says he cannot implement the new minimum wage should resign or be impeached. There is nothing they are waiting for in the Government House if they cannot implement. That is our position.”
The TUC President, Olaleye said: “After all it took to reach that agreement, I am surprised that those governors can expose themselves to the extent of letting the public know that all their promises to Nigerian workers before the election were mere deceit to get votes.
“As much as we are not against reviewing the revenue sharing formula either upward or downward, based on who can move the economy forward between the federal or states, my advice for those state governors who claimed they cannot pay, is to resign and allow pragmatic and prudent politicians to lead their state.
“I am aware most of them don’t even have the interest of the populace at heart.”