President Bola Tinubu has expressed his administration’s readiness to review the present N30,000 minimum wage to be in tandem with current global realities.
According to him, improved livelihood for Nigerians remains a top priority of his government, with more people-focused economic policies, assuring that the national minimum wage needs a review to reflect realities.
The President, who received members of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) led by the Chairman, Senator Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, at the State House, Abuja on Friday, said the national and sub-national governments will work together on the minimum wage, which already requires “soul searching.’’
He said: “We need to do some arithmetic and soul searching on the minimum wage. We will have to take a look at that together, and the revenue. We must strengthen the source and application of our revenue.’’
President Tinubu urged the governors to seize the opportunity of being chosen among millions of citizens in their states to make a difference in the lives of people, adding that he will work for the benefit of Nigerians.
According to him: “This meeting is not strange to me, and the content of the meeting is so valuable. The camaraderie is very stimulating. This is about the Nigerian project, not Bola Tinubu”.
The President said the multiple exchange rates will be streamlined, noting that governance was a continuum.
“I have inherited the assets and liabilities of my predecessor. This is the first time you entered the Council Chambers, and it is my first time too for a meeting.
“As progressives and thinkers under the umbrella of the All Progressives Congress (APC), you have a role to play in educating our people and making sure we manage ourselves,’’ the President told the governors.
President Tinubu said it was a good and encouraging sign that the APC has a majority in the National Assembly and some Houses of Assembly, which will make it easier to develop policies that will directly impact the economy and the people.
“If we work together, the Nigeria of our dreams is not far away. Rest assured that we will not have multiple exchange rates anymore. You asked for this meeting, and I had to set aside time to be here.
“We have a political party that we will need to manage, whichever way, we have inherited assets and liabilities, and we cannot complain,’’ he stated.
The President said he would maintain an open-door policy, willing to entertain issues, deliberate, and collectively find solutions to the challenges facing the country, including security.
“It is in our hands, and I am ready to work and listen at any time,’’ he added.
Vice President Kashim Shettima, on his remarks,called on the governors to rally around the President as he tackles the challenges that stagnate the economy, like the oil subsidy and multiple exchange rates.
“Let us rally around the President and not bulge, there are vested interests that may want to resist the subsidy removal. Its removal will free resources for the development of your states,” he added.
Earlier, the Governor of Imo State and PGF Chairman, Senator Uzodinma, pledged the support of the Progressive Governors to the President, noting that the initial decisions already foretell good intentions for the economy.
His words: “We are here today as members of the APC to fraternize with you as our leader, and congratulate you on your election as President, and Commander-in-Chief.
“We are using this opportunity to express our support for you at this trying time in our history”.
He noted that the President had started well, by placing the economy and welfare of the people on a priority list, with honesty of purpose.
“We are aware of your capacity and excellent track record,’’ Uzodinma stated.
Also speaking, Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum, said the development of the national and sub-national economies remains interwoven, assuring that President Tinubu would receive their support to succeed.
Other governors present at the meeting were Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum and Governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, Yahaya Bello of Kogi, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun, Mai Mala Buni of Yobe, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe, and Dikko Radda of Katsina State.
Governors Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa, Hyacinth Alia of Benue, Umar Bago of Niger, Nasir Idris of Kebbi, Uba Sani of Kaduna, Umar Namadi of Jigawa, Nwifuru Francis Ogbonna of Ebonyi , Ahmed Aliyu of Sokoto, and Bassey Otu of Cross-River State were also present.
The PGF has also thrown its weight behind the federal government’s decision to remove petrol subsidy but expressed concern over the sudden hike in petrol prices following the president’s inaugural speech.
Addressing newsmen after the meeting with the President, Chairman of the PGF, Governor Uzodinma, condemned the price increase on what he describes as “old stuck” and called on Nigerians to rally behind the government’s decision to remove the subsidy.
According to him, subsidy was no longer sustainable as the country had been having to borrow money to pay for it, and that the National Economic Council (NEC) had already voted against it.
“Now, what Mr. President did during the inauguration, he did not direct that subsidy should be removed, we already agreed as a government and in the National Economic Council that subsidizing petroleum products is no longer sustainable because for the past two years, we have been borrowing to subsidize and in various meetings I, for instance, have asked questions, who are the exact beneficiaries of this subsidy and I’m sure you, from the media, may not know exactly who the exact beneficiaries and there’s none of us here who can vouch for the integrity of implementation programmes of the petroleum subsidy allocation.
According to him: “It has gotten to a point that it is either that, which is no longer sustainable, is managed or there will be no Nigeria and all of us are committed to the success and unity of the country and the last appropriation, which is law, made provision for subsidy up till June. The President, who has just been sworn-in few days ago, has not prepared any budget, and he’s under oath to respect the laws of the land and one of these laws is 2023 Appropriations Acts.
“So by June this year, it is very clear that there is no provision for any money to be used to subsidize petroleum product. What he did from the address, because I went home two days, took that address, went through that address and saw that what the President mentioned passively was petroleum subsidy is no longer fashionable and cannot be sustained and we, members of National Economic Council, chaired by former Vice President Osinbajo, agreed also to the extent that the former government had concluded arrangements to take loan from the World Bank, that will be used as palliative to be sent to the people of Nigeria, as a measure to cushion the harsh weather or inconveniences of the complete removal of the subsidy by government.
“So it is not new and I want you people to help this situation because collectively, only by working together, we can save the country. I thought that what we should be saying now is, in the absence of subsidizing petroleum products, how are we going to make this product available to Nigerians to use”.
Commenting on the issue of profiteers and how it affects the economy and Nigerians, he said “there’ll be new economic realities and once a new policy comes, there’s usually this panic. For instance, from May 29 till today, I’m not aware that any petroleum market has imported any product. All the products in their storage facilities are those already imported, subsidized by government. Why the rush to increase the prices? It is man’s humanity to man.
“So I think that what we should do is to be our brother’s keepers and learn how to save the firewood we got during the dry season, so we can use it during the rainy season.
“But I think also that as we work towards improving the economy of this country, with the intention of creating prosperity, government will be reasonable enough to look at the reality on ground and address them as appropriate. I have no doubt in my mind that the man who has raised his pump price from N300+ to N500+ is creating panic that there’ll be no product”.
Deji Elumoye in Abuja