*As lawmakers advocate review of sharing formula
By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
Senate yesterday passed the N30,000 new minimum wage for Nigerian workers, which is about three thousand naira higher than the N27,000 originally forwarded to the lawmakers by President Muhammadu Buhari two months ago.
During the debate on the new minimum wage at yesterday plenary, the senators unanimously agreed that time has come for the country to review its revenue sharing formula between the three tires of government to enable the states have the capacity to pay the new minimum wage.
The lawmakers argued that the current revenue sharing formula as it is presently, gives the federal government more resources, which is 56% of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), while the states, which has more of Nigerians residing within their respective domains have 24%, leaving a balance of 20% between the 774 local governments.
Recall that last week, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, sequel to unavailability of the former chairman of the ad hoc committee on the Minimum Wage, Senator Olushola Adeyeye, had mandated a new chairman, Francis Alimikhena, to takeover the committee and submit their report unfailingly this week.
To this effect, Alimikhena, who is also the Deputy Whip of the Senate, presenting the committee’s reports at yesterday plenary, told the Senate that N5,000 fine stipulated in clause 3(1) of the bill against any employer who fails to keep records of employees was increased by the committee to N75,000 to ensure compliance.
Emphasising the need for review of Revenue sharing formula, the Senate Minority Leader, Abiodun Olujimi (PDP Ekiti South) said without review of the existing revenue sharing formula, states and local governments may not have the required financial capacity to pay the new minimum wage.
“The essence of formulating any policy or passing a bill, is to see to its implementation for the required results. If revenue sharing fornlmula is not reviewed in a way that will make the states and local government to get more from the monthly allocations, implementing the new minimum wage may be difficult for them”, she said.
Also, senator Andrew Uchendu (Rivers APC), said there is need to amend the report to bring about a compulsory periodic review of the workers salary to avoid the stalemate that usually result when workers go on strike to push home their wage increase.
However, Senator Barnabas Gemade (SDP Benue North East), countered this in his contribution, saying that with the experience of the last general elections, no state can claim not to have capacity to pay the new minimum wage.
According to him, although a review of the existing revenue sharing formula was long overdue, he insisted that even without that, no state can claim not to have the financial capacity of paying the N30,000 new minimum wage, adding that the way governors bought votes during the last elections showed that there are enormous resources at the state governments’ disposal.
According to him, “Going by the volume of money or enormous amount spent by the various state governors to buy votes in the just concluded general elections, no state can claim not to have the financial wherewithal to pay the new minimum wage.
“If a state through its governor, has billions of Naira to buy votes, the same state should through the same governor, pay the newly passed N30,000 minimum wage to her workers”.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who presided over the plenary session, said with the passage of the new minimum wage, industrial harmony and improved national productivity will be achieved.
Meanwhile, the Senate shortly after passing the bill, also called on the executive to forward to the National Assembly a supplementary budget on personnel cost component of the 2019 budget for effective implementation of the approved N30,000 new minimum wage.