By Emmanuel Oloniruha
The Nigerian Governors’ Forum says it will re-strategize and dialogue with President Muhammadu Buhari on the issues associated with the proposed N30, 000 minimum wage.
To drive the process, the forum has constituted a committee to meet the president to work out a formula to quickly resolve the issues.
Chairman of the forum and Governor of Zamfara, Alhaji Abdul’aziz Yari, told newsmen at the end of an emergency meeting of the governors on Wednesday in Abuja that payment of N30, 000 wage was impracticable.
Yari, however, said the proposed wage would be paid if labour would agree to downsizing of the workforce across the country “or Federal Government itself accedes to the review of the national revenue allocation formula”.
He listed members of the committee to interface with the Presidency as governors of Lagos, Kebbi, Plateau, Bauchi, Akwa |bom, Ebonyi, Enugu and Kaduna.
Yari alleged that the Tripartite Committee on the minimum wage did not include governors submission of N22, 500 in its proposal to Buhari “because it said that the governors’ decision came late”.
“Situation where our report was not taken or considered by the tripartite committee in the presentation to the president, then, I don’t know how the committee wants us to work.
“We still said that we want to pay but the issue is the ability to pay. If we say no, just pay, I don’t know how this formula will work and I don’t know how we can get solution to the issue.
“Today it is N18, 000. In 2015 when the president assumed office, 27 states were not able to pay, not that they chose not to pay.
“Now you say N30, 000, how many of us can pay? We will be bankrupt.
“So as Nigerians, we should look at the issues seriously,” he said.
Yari said that if the minimum wage was pegged at N30, 000, only Lagos would be able to pay its workers.
“Like Lagos that is paying about N7 billion as salaries now, if you say it should start paying N30, 000 the cost of salary will be N13 billion. “From our calculation, it is only Lagos state that will be able to pay 30,000.
“As Nigerians, this is our country, there is no other country we have and we should be fair to this country.”
He added that it was the same labour leadership pushing for N30, 000 that would turn around to say that governors did not build any infrastructure “and how are we going to achieve that by paying only salaries.”
On way forward, Yari said that the governors would continue to talk with labour leaders to let them see reasons why the governors have difficulties in paying the proposed wage.
“Apart from Lagos, even Rivers cannot pay. So, we have been crying out about this since 2011 but no one will listen.
“One critical example is that some states ration their salaries while some others put everything they earn on the table and ask labour to come and see and ask them to suggest how much should go for capital and personnel cost.
“Some say 70 per cent for personnel cost and 30 per cent for capital projects and yet the states cannot pay and they put the remaining as outstanding.”
On submission of states audited account, Yari said that the account was submitted to the committee, adding that “we are going to use the report of the audited committee to make further presentation.”
He disclosed that the governors also discussed the issue of Tax for Health services and had a presentation on human capital.
By Emmanuel Oloniruha