President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated a Technical Advisory Committee on the Implementation of a New National Minimum Wage.
The development came barely 24 hours after the government and Labour agreed that a New National Minimum Wage Bill will be sent to the National Assembly on or before January 23.
The unions are demanding N30, 000 for the least paid worker. But governors are willing to pay N22, 500 and the Federal Government is offering N24, 000.
The President named Bismarck Rewane as head of the panel, which he inaugurated at the Council Chamber, State House, Abuja, before the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) began.
Members of the committee have been drawn from the public and the private sector.
It has a month to complete its work and submit its report and recommendations. The members are Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Chairman Babatunde Fowler, ex-FIRS boss Mrs Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru, Dr Ayo Teriba and Prof. Akpan Ekpo.
Others include: Budget Office Director-General Ben Akabueze, who is the secretary of the committee, representative of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF); National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission Chairman Richard Egbule; Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Didi Walson-Jack; Permanent Secretary, General Service Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Olusegun Adekunle; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Dr. Mahmoud Isa-Dutse; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Olajide Odewale; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour Mrs. Ibukun Odusote, and Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Mr. Dayo Apata.
The other members are: Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Office of the Vice President, Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu; Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Economic Policy, Dr. Joseph Nnanna; Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris; Director-General, Debt Management Officer, Ms. Patience Oniaga; Director-General, National Institute of Social and Economic Research, Dr. Folarin Gbadebo-Smith; Statistician-General, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Dr. Yemi Kale; Mrs. Aisha Hamad, Mamman Garba and Tunde Lawal.
Pointing out that the last time Nigeria’s national minimum wage was reviewed was in 2011, Buhari said that it was evident that a review was necessary, despite the prevailing fiscal challenges.
He said: “This is why I constituted the Tripartite Committee of government (federal and states), the Organised Private Sector (OPS) and Labour to consider the national minimum wage and make recommendations to the government for its upward review.
“That committee has since submitted its report with some recommendations. We are currently working on the final steps that will lead to the submission of a National Minimum Wage Amendment Bill to the National Assembly.
“I want to make it clear that there is no question about whether the National Minimum Wage will be reviewed upwards. I am committed to a review of the Minimum Wage.
“Also, it is important to explain that even though the subject of a national minimum wage is in the exclusive legislative list, we have been meeting with the state governors because it is imperative that the Federal Government carries the state governments along in determining any upward review of the minimum wage for workers.
“This is especially necessary considering the prevailing public sector revenue challenges, which have made it extremely difficult for some of the governments to pay workers as and when due.
“As you know, we, at the federal level, have made adequate provision for the increase in the minimum wage in our Budget 2019 proposals which we submitted to the National Assembly.
INEC advocates for ‘women and disabled first’ during elections
Independent National Electoral Commission has called for easy access to vote for women and disabled persons during the upcoming elections.
Professor James Apam, the Kogi State Resident Electoral Commissioner, has appealed to the electorate to allow women and those with disabilities unhindered access to cast their votes at the polling units.
Apam said it is necessary in view of the strategic position of women at home front and in the society.
He spoke on Tuesday in Lokoja at a one-day workshop on “Mitigating Violence Against Women” organised by the Kogi State Independent Electoral Commission.
He said that women as the weaker sex and in view of the strategic position women occupied both at the home front and in the society, it is necessary to allow them to cast their votes first on the day of the election.
“This will reduce their exposure to the risk of violence that might happen at the polls,” Professor Apam said.
“Whatever happened during and after elections, women, and children were always at the receiving end and so should be allowed to cast their votes first so that they can be free to attend to other important issues on that day,” he added.
He also expressed disappointment at the level of participation of women in politics both at the state and national level.
“It is disheartening to note that in spite of numerous actions aimed at encouraging women participation in politics, we are yet to see more women at the forefront of political participation.
“For instance, in Kogi State, only seven senatorial candidates are contesting out of 70 male candidates while three are in the House of Representatives category,” he said.
Professor Apam called on women to join hands to wage wars against vote buying and selling and other electoral malpractices that might hinder the delivery of free, fair and credible election next month.
2019 Elections: Over 23,000 candidates are contesting 1558 seats – INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has given a breakdown of the statistics of candidates contesting different positions in the February 16 and March 2 general elections.
According the electoral umpire, over 23,000 candidates are contesting 1558 seats across the country.
The Chairman of the commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu gave this information on Tuesday at the Police Headquarters in Abuja when he led other members of the commission to brief the new Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu on its plan for the election.
Mahmood said there were a total of 119, 973 polling units for the election while 73 candidates are contesting the only position in the presidential constituency.
1,904 candidates will be contesting for 109 Senatorial seats; with over 4,600 candidates contesting for 360 Federal Constituency seats; and over 14,600 candidates will compete for 991 State Constituencies.
He said, “There will be governorship elections in 29 states, for which we have 1,068 candidates vying for 29 governorship seats at state level and then in the FCT, we have 68 constituencies made up of 6 Area Council Chairmen, and 62 councils.
“In all, we have 806 candidates in the FCT. On the whole in 2019, over 23, 000 candidates will be competing for 1,558 seats,” the INEC boss stated.
While speaking, the police IG emphasised the necessity of conducting a credible poll while advising policemen to remain unbiased and neutral during the election.
“This is a crucial election that we are getting into and the election must be free, fair and credible.
“Police official must be seen to be neutral and give every party a level playing field to do what they are supposed to do,” he said.
Council of States: Buhari, OBJ, Saraki, others certify INEC fit for conduct of election
The National Council of State on Tuesday in Abuja expressed satisfaction with the level of preparations of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of the forthcoming general elections.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State made the position of the Council known when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House.
Mr Akeredolu said the endorsement of the INEC preparedness for the election followed a presentation made by the Chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu, at the meeting of the council.
He emphasised that the council was convinced on the level of preparedness of the electoral body.
According to him, the chairman also informed the council that the commission had embarked on training and retraining of staff for the successful conduct of the election.
“He informed the Council of the preparedness of INEC and everybody in the hall was convinced that INEC was ready for this election and a lot of things have been put in place.
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“I think we all concluded that it is important for the chairman to even speak to the nation on the preparedness of INEC for this election – that would convince all of us that this forthcoming election is going to be free and fair.
“Look at it, they have improved card reader, the details of what had been done to improve it was made known.
“It was made known that the process of continuous accreditation and voting system (vote at the same time and you leave) was the best.
“He also told the Council that they are not lacking in terms of finance and that all the monies appropriated have been given to them and that they are ready for the election.
“He went further to inform the Council that all training and retraining of every category of staff that they (INEC) will use, they have already started and they are having consultations with every group of people, religious, artisans and trade unions to let them know (about the election).
“So, everybody was convinced that INEC, as at today, is ready for the elections and questions were asked, he was interrogated and he responded and gave adequate explanation to the satisfaction of all of us,’’ he said.
The National Council of State also endorsed N27,000 as new National Minimum Wage.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who also addressed the correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, disclosed that the council endorsed N27, 000 as new National Minimum Wage.
He, however, said the Federal Government would pay its workers N30,000 as its minimum wage as demanded by organised labour.
The minister revealed that the bill on the new wage of N27,000 would be transmitted to the National Assembly in the next 24 hours for passage into law.
According to him, the N27,000 is the benchmark for all employers of labour with more than 25 workers on their payroll, emphasising that no employer of labour with more 25 workers should pay less than the proposed N27,000.
“On the issue of national minimum wage, we have held series of consultations starting from the inauguration of the tripartite committee in November 2018, to the Federal executive Council, the National Economic Council.
“Finally today, the Council of State and these three organs have permitted the President now to transmit to the National Assembly the new minimum wage bill.
“This is in consonance with the fact that the issue of national minimum wage prescription is in the exclusive list second schedule, item 34 and being on that list, it is not a job that can be done by the executive alone.
“The President has to transmit a bill and the National Assembly will take legislative action and return the bill that has been so treated to the President for assent.
“The bill will now amend the 1981 and 2011 act and the highlights are the figure of N27, 000 monthly has been approved for transmission to the National Assembly, frequency of review of the bill is five years to get in consonance with the pension law of the federation as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.
“Exemptions to this act will be the establishments that are not employing people up to 25 (workers) in number and the various fines prescribed have also been altered,’’ he said.
The minister, however, stated that the federal government had resolved to pay its workers N30,000 as the new national minimum wage while the state governments were free to negotiate with their respective staff.
The organised labour had insisted on a N30,000 minimum wage as proposed by the Ama Pepple tripartite committee, while the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) proposed N24,000.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting, which lasted for about three hours, was attended by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan, Abdulsalami Abubakar and the former Head of the Interim Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan.
Others, who attended the meeting included three former Chief Justices of Nigeria, Muhammadu Uwais, Alfa Belgore and Mahmud Mohammed.
However, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnogen, former military President Ibrahim Babangida and former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon were absent at the meeting.
The council also observed a minute silence for late president Shehu Shagari.
NLC reacts to N27,000 minimum wage approval
The Nigeria Labour Congress has rejected the N27,000 new national minimum wage adopted by the National Council of States on Tuesday.
The NLC Secretary-General, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.
According to him, the council has no jurisdiction determining another amount after a Tripartite Committee had submitted its report.
“It is abysmal of government to be delaying the submission of an Executive Bill to the National Assembly and by wrongfully adopting N27,000 through the council of states,” he said.
However, Ozo-Eson said the NLC has scheduled an emergency National Executive Council meeting for Friday to weigh on the deadline given to government within which to submit an executive bill to the National Assembly.
The NLC scribe added that the Federal Government was only projecting a shutdown of the economy with its latest action.
“This is because workers should not be held responsible for any development after its NEC meeting on Friday,’’ he said.
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