The Nigeria’s Governors Forum (NGF) has insisted that only a review of the federal revenue sharing formula would enable State Governments to sustain the new N30,000 minimum wage, in the long run.
The governors had always maintained that they need a higher percentage of national revenues, while negotiations for the new wage were ongoing between government and the workers’ unions.
This insistence comes as the December 31, 2019 deadline given by organised labour for State Governors to conclude discussions on consequential adjustment for the payment of the new wage draws near.
The NGF, while agreeing to pay the N30,000 wage as agreed between government and workers unions, however, said that state governments may not adopt the template of the Federal Government on the consequential adjustment.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja after a meeting he held behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, on Monday, Chairman of the NGF, Dr. Kayode Fayemi assured Nigerians that no state would pay anything less than N30, 000 that was signed into law by the President.
Fayemi said that “a review of the revenue sharing formula is still the position of the Nigeria’s Governors Forum. We feel that it’s time for the revenue sharing formula to change and we have made a representation to the President and Commander-in-Chief.
“It is not just under the (President Muhammadu) Buhari’s administration, this has been an ongoing agitation that started way back since the time of President Olusegun Obasanjo, it continued on the President (Umaru) Yar’Adua and President Goodluck Jonathan. So, it’s not just something that has been brought out under President Buhari.
“And you also know that there is a process to this. The process is that the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), which has the responsibility for this would do its own due diligence, consult widely with critical stakeholders and we have also made available our own representation to RMAFC.
“Every state has a representative at RMAFC as you know and only last week, RMAFC held a retreat on this and other matters and I believe they will communicate the position.
“Now that we have a full-fledged RMAFC in place with a Chairman and other members appointed, it is our expectation that this would be taken up by RMAFC with Mr. President in a manner that we have taken it up.
“Whether that would affect negotiation for the minimum wage, I can tell you no minimum wage is a law. But as I have always said to you, a national minimum wage act is not a general minimum wage review. They are two separate things.
“Governors are committed to the Minimum Wage Act and no one is going to pay anything less than N30, 000. Some of us have started paying N30, 000 as you may be aware, others want negotiations on the consequential adjustment to end before they start paying the minimum wage.
“And as you may be aware, what has happened so far is that the Federal Government has agreed on a percentage of consequential adjustment with labour. What is happening currently in states and the majority of our states have started that negotiation is to agree on what that consequential adjustment would be in the state.
“I have also said to many people who have asked me, fingers are not equal at the level of the states. So, a consequential adjustment may not necessarily end up being the same, it will be different from state to state.
“We are not going to adopt hook line and sinker what has been adopted between federal government and labour, that is for federal government workers, what happens in state is a different matter. But I can assure Nigerians that no state is going to pay anything less than N30, 000.”
On the role played by the NGF in resolving the dispute between Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and the Emirs of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the NGF boss, who is a member of the committee set up to resolve the dispute, said that “what we are doing now is essentially an expanded committee of the elders chaired by the former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar and comprising very distinguished Nigerians and from our Forum, myself and Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katrina state are also members of the committee.
“We already had preliminary discussions with both parties and we know that they are both desirous of peace in Kano. We have also briefed Mr. President on the mission of this body. It is not a federal government body I must say that but the federal government that is Mr. President is not averse to anything that could assist in ensuring that there is peace in one of the most political states in our country.
“Anything, to avoid a volatile situation that may result in an unfortunate development is not wanted and it is our expectation that given the positive response from both His Excellency the governor, Dr. Ganduje and the Emirs of Kano, we would come to a resolution of the problem. ”
Also asked on the efforts NGF was making to similarly resolve the crisis in Edo State which involves one of them, Governor Godwin Obaseki and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, he said that “crisis management in the governors forum is not a television matter. I can assure you that we are fully seized of what is happening in Edo State and at the level of the party governors forum, we have engaged both parties.
“We hosted both parties, we appealed to them and their supporters, we have taken steps and we are still taking steps to ensure that peace reigns in Edo State but that is not the matter for the Nigeria Governors Forum, it’s more of a party political issue but we are involved in that at the level of the party”.