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May Day 2021: How Nigerian Governors are handling New Workers’ Wage

April 18 2021 makes it two years since President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law the bill to increase Nigeria’s minimum wage.

The new wage bill puts the minimum monthly salary of an average Nigerian worker to rise to 30,000 naira ($98) from 18,000 naira.

But as the world mark the 2021 workers day today, it is transparently clear that in Nigeria at the moment, very little of the fate of workers especially those at the subnational (state) seems to be worth celebrating. With the currently economic reality in Nigeria where the movement of goods and services is completely at the mercy of the stabilization fuel price, one will agree that the non-implementation of the new minimum wage by some state governors and the deliberate “robbing Peter to pay Paul” strategy employed by other governors, calls for a national empathy for the Nigerian workers today.

From Kaduna to Kano, Zamfara down to some north central states up to some southern states, it’s been one excuse or the other on either sacking state civil servants or deliberate non-payment of their wages as ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari. President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Quadri Olaleye, mentioned in February this year that some of the states found wanting to include Benue, Cross River, Ekiti, who only implemented levels one to six with backlogs of arrears on promotion; Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Ogun with huge remittance on deductions; Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Taraba, Kano, and Zamfara.

In Kaduna, Governor Nasir El-rufai, recently announced his notice of disengagements of workers in the state public service. According to El-rufai in a statement made available to ThenNewsGuru.com, TNG in April 13 this year, his administration being the first to implement the new minimum wage in September 2019 is now faced with a significant increase in wage burden.

“While the Kaduna State Government believes that public sector wages overall are still relatively low, their current levels are obviously limited by the resources available to the government. What each public servant earns might be puny in comparison to private sector wages, but the total wage bill consumes much of the revenues of the state.” El-rufai said. “The desire to pay more is a sentiment that must bow to the limits prescribed by the ability to pay….Therefore, the state government has no choice but to shed some weight and reduce the size of the public service. He added.

This sends shivers down the spines of a lot of workers in the state who are currently battling with the vagaries of the current economic reality in the country and in their state. The security threats of not being able to engage in farming and other agricultural activities which they are known for, has added to their fears. Although governor El-rufai promised to curb the excesses the disengagements may cause on the persons to be affected, marrying words with actions remains what everyone should look out for.

In Kano, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje just recovered from a mild rift with labour over non-implementation of the new minimum wage and his deliberate deduction of workers salary in March 2021. After a day-long negotiation on April 8, labour shelved its decision to embark on a warning strike after the governor and his team promised to refund the deduction they did in March. However the old minimum wage of Eighteen Thousand Naira (N18,000) is what the Kano state workers have to make do with for now.

In Taraba, Governor Darius Ishaku had to make a pledge of working out modalities to start paying the new minimum wage between April to June before the workers ended the over two weeks strike they began on March 22 this year. They taraba workers expect the governor to get back to them by June this year as promised. The also told the governor to stop hiding under the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) crisis to deny them their right of the new national minimum wage.

Currently, on the good books of the Nigerian Labour congress ar; Borno, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Lagos, Ondo, Sokoto, Yobe and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) who have commenced the implementation of the new minimum wage.

As Nigeria marks the workers day today, it is hoped that other state governors will be moved to motivate their state workers who have been the backbone of their various stewardships.

This year’s Workers Day will particularly commemorate the efforts of Nigerian Workers throughout the COVID-19 crisis, where their importance in the smooth running of healthcare and other infrastructure has been highlighted globally.

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