By Harrison Arubu
The Presidency has reassured workers of the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to an increase in the minimum wage.
Sen. Ita Enang, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), gave the assurance on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.
Enang spoke at the backdrop of alleged lack of commitment by the Federal Government to an upward review of the minimum wage, which has been N18, 000 for over eight years.
“I want to assure you that the Buhari-led administration is very honest and committed to reviewing the salaries of workers.
“If he did not, he would not have set up a committee on minimum wage headed by a retired Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.
“This is a sign of commitment, and this retired HoS is not an off-the-mill retired Head of the Civil Service of the Federation; the Minister of Labour is part of it.
“So, it shows the level of commitment, and it is not a committee of the Federal Executive Council; it is a presidential committee set up and inaugurated by the president.”
The tripartite National Minimum Wage Committee, made up of 29 members drawn from organised labour, the federal and state governments, was inaugurated in May, 2017.
Although the committee was given until Sept. 1 to submit its report, it could not meet the deadline due to disagreement over the minimum wage figure.
On Aug. 21, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, blamed the delay on the inability of state governors to come up with an agreed figure.
Ngige, however, stated that the Federal Government through its Economic Management Team, was working with the governors to find a common ground.
Until then, the minister said he could not tell when the new minimum wage would be implemented.
On Monday, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) through its President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, said the government was frustrating the process.
Wabba stated that the congress had summoned a meeting of its organs for next week to report the federal government and decide on the next line of action.
Enang also called on labour leaders to consider unemployed Nigerians in its demand for salary increment.
“So, when we are talking about increase in salaries, I agree to it, but I think we should also factor along creating employment for those who are yet to have.”
He said that the Federal Government was already working in that direction by encouraging its agencies and parastatals to employ young and qualified Nigerians.
Enang stated that the government was also creating self-employment opportunities for enterprising youths through its social investment programmes.
He added that the government was equally creating enabling environment in the agricultural and technological sectors for young Nigerians.