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NLC Rejects N62,000 Minimum Wage Offer As Tinubu Says Nigeria Will Pay What It Can Afford

President Tinubu emphasised that Nigeria will pay a minimum wage it can afford, despite the NLC rejecting the N62,000 offer.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Wednesday stressed that the organised labour had not reached any agreement with the federal government and members of the organised private sector on the base figure for a National Minimum Wage as well as its other components of the remuneration.

However President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has declared that Nigeria will only pay what it can afford as a new minimum wage for workers, but hinted at possible change to the final figure.

The President spoke on Wednesday night at the State House Conference Centre, at the 25th Democracy Day Anniversary Dinner. He urged the National Assembly to expect his memorandum.

Speaking specifically to the leadership of the National Assembly, represented by the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio on the national minimum wage issue,  Tinubu said the government would do what is expected, but would also pay what it can afford.

His words: “Senate President, Deputy Senate President, you’ll get a notice from me if I’ve changed my mind on minimum wage. We’re going to do what Nigeria can afford, what you can afford, what I can afford. They ask you to cut your coat according to your size.”

Also on Wednesday the Minister of Information and National Orientation Mohammed Idris, emphasised the need for a realistic and sustainable wage system that balances workers’ needs with the country’s economic realities.

At the last sitting of the Tripartite Committee on minimum wage in Abuja, both the government side and representatives of the private sector had made a final offer of N62,000 while organised labour represented by NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) came down from their earlier demand of N594,000 to N250,000.

But in a statement by the NLC, the trade union said it expected the president to have harmonised the two proposals and announce a fitting minimum wage for Nigerian workers

“We attentively listened to the Democracy Day Presidential address delivered by President Tinubu, especially concerning the ongoing National Minimum Wage negotiations. While the President may have accurately recounted parts of our democratic journey’s history, it is evident that he has been misinformed regarding the outcome of the wage negotiation process.

 “The NLC would have expected that the advisers of the President would have told him that we neither reached any agreement with the federal government and the employers on the base figure for a National Minimum Wage nor on its other components.

“Our demand still remains N250,000 only and we have not been given any compelling reasons to change this position which we consider a great concession by Nigerian workers during the tripartite negotiation process.

“We are therefore surprised at the submission of Mr. President over a supposed agreement,” it stated.

The NLC said it appreciated the President’s commitment to the fine democratic ideals which allowed the work of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Negotiation Committee to proceed unhindered despite some hiccups.

“However, we had expected Mr. President to have used this understanding as one of those who was in the vanguard of the struggle with us around the nation to rescue Nigeria from the hands of the military to harmonise the two figures submitted to him by the Tripartite Committee in favour of workers and masses. It would have been a fitting Democracy Day gift.

 “We believe that he may have been misled into believing that there was an agreement with the NLC and TUC.

“There was none and it is important that we let the President, Nigerians and other national stakeholders understand this immediately to avoid a mix-up in the ongoing conversation around the national minimum wage.

 “We have also not seen a copy of the document submitted to him and will not accept any doctored document. However, we want to reaffirm our belief that the President on whose table the Tripartite Committee’s report presently resides would prepare an Executive Bill which content will reflect the true demand of Nigerian workers.

“We think that this is an opportunity for him to demonstrate his love for Nigerian workers and masses by shunning the pieces of advice that may be coming from those whose intentions are continuously focused on hurting the poor and struggling workers of Nigeria.

“Mr. President should not allow these individuals and groups to sabotage his promise of lifting Nigerian workers out of poverty,” the NLC added.

The President also declared that Nigeria will only pay what it can afford as a new minimum wage for workers. He, therefore, alerted the National Assembly to expect his memorandum on possible change of mind on the final settlement for a new national minimum wage.

On ground to add colour to the evening were five pro-democracy icons, including Prof. Bolaji Akiyemi, Chief Segun Osoba, Senator Shehu Sani, Minister of Solid Minerals, Mr Dele Alake, who took the podium to recall President Tinubu’s role in the struggle that eventually snowballed into what is being celebrated.

Among guests at the event were Vice President Kashim Shettima, Senate President Godswill Akpabio; Deputy President of the Senate, Jibrin Barau; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas; Deputy Speaker Benjamin Kalu; Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola; and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume.

Also on ground were the National Security Adviser (NSA), Nuhu Ribadu; Chief of Staff to the President, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; former vice presidential candidate, Babagana Kingibe;  Chief Pius Akinyelure; Chief Bisi Akande and Senator Abu Ibrahim.

Governors in attendance included Hope Uzodinma (Imo); Umo Eno (Akwa Ibom); Lucky Aiyedatiwa (Ondo); Usman Ododo (Kogi); Sheriff Oborevwori (Delta); Uba Sani (Kaduna); Caleb Mutfwang (Plateau); and Siminalayi Fubara (Rivers).

Ministers included those of Justice/Attorney-General, Lateef Fagbemi; Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun; Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris; Power, Bayo Adelabu; Budget and National Planning Atiku Bagudu; Agriculture and Rural Development, Abubakar Kyari.

Pro-democracy activists in attendance included Senator Shehu Sani; George Mba; Olisa Agbakoba. Also in attendance were Tony Elumelu; traditional rulers and members of the diplomatic corps.

Deji Elumoye, Olawale Ajimotokan and Onyebuchi Ezigbo

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