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because it is a constitutional matter and the state governments were all involved in the process that led to the new minimum wage.
Apart from the state and local governments who are under obligation to pay, the government also emphasised that private sector employers with more than 50 employees must pay the minimum of N18,000 monthly to their workers.
The declaration puts to rest the agitation by some state governments that they cannot afford to pay N18,000 and threats by labour to clamp down on states that refuse to pay as well as the call on President Goodluck Jonathan by labour to make the details of the new minimum wage law and copies available to allay their fears.
Speaking during an interactive session with journalists in what appears an account of his stewardship since he became the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, said the N18,000 minimum wage had become a law.
But the minister stated that this particular law was one that most people, including state governors would not want to test its legality.
He emphasised that the new minimum wage law would apply to all the three tiers of government in the country.
“I think every state will look at the law, the first thing is to get a copy of the law, study it and then note what they have against the law. For now, there is a law on national minimum wage that would apply among the states of the federation and remember that the Nigerian federation comprises the federal, state and local governments. So the law applies to all these tiers of government,” the minister said.
Chief Wogu said: “The minimum wage is now a law. There are no sentiments about it. Although, for every law people are allowed to air their sentiments and the only legal way to challenge any law is through the law courts. And this is a law that most people, even the state governors will not want to test its legality.
“Most governors have agreed to pay. I have not seen any report like you alluded that some governors were saying they would not pay. Well, if there are such isolated cases, then it becomes issue of either not believing in the law or having other reasons about the law.
“At the appropriate time these issues would be addressed. The issue now is availability of funds, affordability and management of resources.”
He stated that labour challenges in this respect would be handled, adding that, that was the reason the doctrine of tripartism existed.
He, however, said that the Ministry of Labour would soon come out with broad guidelines on its implementation as provided for in the minimum wage report and hinted that the bureaucracy in the ministry was already working on it to have a smooth implementation.
The minister stated that there were recommendations in the report on the new national minimum wage, one of which gave the Ministry of Labour and Productivity the power to adopt the report and come out with broad guidelines when it becomes law.
Chief Wogu said the ministry would hold an interactive session with stakeholders, especially NLC, TUC and NECA, on the implementation.
Specifically, the minister said the report envisaged such a situation and said the Ministry of Labour should engage its social partners NECA, NLC, TUC, Federal Government, state government and local governments.
The minister said: “The report was passed by the National Council of State and the composition of the National Council of State is provided in the constitution, that is the sitting president, former heads of state, heads of government, all former chief justices of the federation and all state governors.
“So, if the report has been adopted by the Council of state, your guess is as good as mine, because governors are part of the National Council of State; memoranda came from various states and our social partners. It was not a report that was conjured but a report that was based on objective reasoning. A report that was scientific and took into consideration what we call COLA (cost of living) as well as macro-economic factor. It is a holistic report based on input from everybody.”
Chief Wogu added: “Now that the minimum wage bill has be assented to, it now behoves the Ministry of Labour to come out with broad guidelines and this is contingent upon certain other activities which the permanent secretary will come out with, which might not be limited to only interactive session, but guidelines will [also] be produced, which will ensure that we have a smooth implementation.
“The reason for this is to forestall any industrial action that might come due to wrong implementation of the minimum wage, because what is important is the implementation. We must come out with clear and applicable guidelines.”
“I now re-emphasise and re-affirm the plea from Mr President for labour to understand by allowing us to follow the report and recommendation of that committee that has been adopted by the National Council of State.”
The minister used the opportunity to call on workers to reciprocate what he called the good intention of President Jonathan and his love for Nigerian workers by voting for him during the presidential election so that he can continue his good work.
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