By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Chairman of Senate Committee on Labour, Abu Ibrahim, has said the Senate concurred with the House of Representatives in passing a national minimum wage higher than what President Muhammadu Buhari sent to the National Assembly so as to avoid the commotion that will result from harmonization of the differences.
Fielding questions from journalists in the National Assembly yesterday, senator Ibrahim, who represents Katsina South in the Senate, said when the commotion eventually starts, it may result in the 8th National Assembly not passing the new national minimum wage for workers.
According to him, when members of the Senate committee, during its deliberation on the Bill, looked at the difference between what the green chamber passed and what was submitted by the executive which is N3000, they felt that it could be addressed after the passage of the Bill.
He said it was in view of this that they brought up another solution, which is that after the passage of the new minimum wage, the federal government revenue allocation could be reviewed to give more allocation to both the States and Local governments.
This, Ibrahim said, would enable the State and local governments to pay the new national minimum wage, rather than the federal government to be always coming to their rescue and granting them interventions, which he said is not sustainable, because the two tiers will not be viable.
“We looked at it, the difference from what the executive asked for is three thousand naira and the commotion that it will create if we disagree with the House of Representatives, we may not pass it, because we may have to go back and start again and go into harmonization.
“Now that we are closing today for budget defence, you know budget defence starts today, so we may end up leaving the National Assembly without finishing the minimum wage. So we felt at the committee that it does not worth it, the problem that it will create for saving three thousand.
“Then, we brought another solution that the federal government revenue allocation should be looked into to make it possible for the states to be able to pay. So, rather than the federal government giving them interventions, we can change the revenue allocation formula to give them more money, both local and state governments.
“So we came up with that additional suggestion after the thirty thousand minimum wage, we suggested that the revenue allocation should be looked into to make the states and local governments more viable”, he said.
While promising to contribute his quota as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labour, to ensure that there is stability between the government and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) relationship, the Katsina senator pointed out that there is need to develop a system of harmony between NLC and government.
“There should be a system whereby both the federal government and the Labour Union will know the time when you will start to review the minimum wage. There must be a system that will determine how much you will pay them; is it per annum or for two years for the review of the minimum wage, so we must have that system to be created”, he said.
Meanwhile, he said the quick passage of the 2019 budget is good for Nigerians, adding that it is part of the President Buhari’s next level promise to Nigerians, whereby there will be continuation and furtherance of the programmes and projects initiated by the government.
“We are following the system, we have closed for two weeks, we have closed the plenary session for budget purposes.
“By two weeks, we will finish and it will go to the committees and the appropriation committee will take another two weeks and it will come back to the floor of the senate and House of Representatives, so by the middle of next month or May we should finish , I am sure it is normal time and we are not hurrying anything and I am sure it will be perfectly done”, he said.