Following the unending battle between labour and the Federal Government over new minimum wage, the Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, has called on Nigerians to sympathise with some state governors over their inability to pay the proposed N30,000.
Bagudu, who was part of the Tripartite Committee on New Minimum Wage that recommended N30, 000 new minimum wage, said that in spite of the Committee’s commitment and recommendation, it was also important for stakeholders to sympathise with governors in that category.
He gave the advice in Abuja at the 12th National Delegates Conference of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
According to him, “I was part of the tripartite party on the new minimum wage. It came at a time when many states were unable to pay salaries, not including Kebbi State, because we manage better.
“All the arguments about increase in wages and the clamour for a new minimum wage were compelling during the tripartite committee meetings. But I am sure that organised private sector will sympathise with what we are saying about the ability to pay.
“What do we need to do quickly so that workers can earn better and decent living? We are ignoring the most fundamental thing which is the size of our economy which leads to wider issue of globalisation.’’
Juxtaposing the situation in Brazil with that of Nigeria, he said in 2018, Brazil had a budget of $650 billion while Nigeria’s budget was about $30 billion, adding that this deserved an urgent wake up call.
He called on the organised labour to use its unity to return to the global agenda issues of unfair trade and capital restriction that were limiting economic growth.
Reminding the NLC of its power to draw Nigerians’ attention to the limitation of the country’s economy, the governor, whose state had done so well in agriculture, said that state government’s success was linked to the Federal Government’s commitment to agriculture and fairness in agricultural trade.
‘‘The success in agriculture would not have been possible without a president that is committed and that is nationalistic.
“In the next level, we will be able to do more in agriculture so that NLC can grow from six million to 60 million and have more resources, ‘’he said.
Earlier in his presentation, human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), advised the NLC to always seek compensation from the Federal Government for the families of people who die in the various protests in the country.
He said NLC should demand adequate compensation for the families of all workers and Nigerians who lost their lives in rallies held all over the country.
“I congratulate the NLC for the success recorded so far in the struggle to have a minimum wage.
“What the constitution provides for in Section 16 is the National Minimum Living Wage but what has been conceded is not a living wage but it is better than nothing.
“The first aspect of the struggle has been won and the National Assembly will soon pass the bill.
“But to get payment, you need to get organised and compel those governors who claim that they will not be able to pay, to pay the new minimum wage, ‘’he said.
Falana called on NLC leaders to put pressure on state governors who claimed that they could not pay N30, 000 minimum wage so that they could do so.
He also called on the governors to imitate the success of the Kebbi in agriculture by initiating policies that would increase their financial strength.
“I will like to advise those governors to borrow a leaf from the governor of Kebbi State. He has turned adversity to prosperity.
“In 2017, it was reported that Kebbi State earned N160 billion from the sale of rice alone.
‘‘Let other governors be challenged and embark on money generation instead of cornering the state money.
“To NLC and all Nigerian workers, let the 2019 election be the last time that elections in Nigeria and the struggle for power will be left exclusively in the hands of different factions of the ruling class.
“After this election, the Labour Party must be reorganised so that we can take our destiny in our own hands,” he said.