By Ifeanyi Nwoko
The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, said the National Assembly was ready to consider and pass a new Minimum Wage Bill whenever it was presented by the executive.
Saraki, who made this known when he featured in News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja, said that the senate was aware of the need to review the current minimum wage.
He said that all the indices upon which the last minimum wage of N18, 000 was approved had changed and that there was, therefore, no need leaving the wage unchanged.
He acknowledged that the sufferings of Nigerians were glaring, and said that the national assembly was only waiting for the executive to present a bill for a wage review.
“We are in support; we are waiting for the executive. We have told them to go ahead with the idea.
“I have said it myself and the Speaker of House of Representatives said it the last time that we are fully in support. We are waiting for the executive to make a move on it.
“We are prodding the executive to do that; we have done that many times and we are still doing that.
“It is justifiable to have a new minimum wage. How will it not be if you look at the challenges the people are going through.
“More so, all the indices have changed since then, and should that be the only index that should stay the same? It is not possible,” he said.
On the inability of some state governments to pay the current minimum wage, Saraki expressed optimism that all state governors were responsible and would key into a new wage when approved.
“I am not in the state but I don’t think that any chief executive or any governor will be irresponsible not to want to provide succour for his people.
“But, we have to understand that maybe they have challenges of affordability,” he said.
On the recent request for the report of the 2014 National Conference to be sent to the senate, he said that although the move had been lauded, it should not be assumed that all Nigerians supported in.
The president of the senate said that the upper chamber had learned to approach sensitive issues at a slow pace so that all Nigerians could understand and be carried along.
According to him, the most important thing is to look at those things that unite us as Nigerians and focus on them rather that the things that divide us.
He allayed fears some of the rejected issues in the Constitution amendment process made not be redressed, saying “We will cross that bridge when we get there.
“As I said in my opening remarks when we were talking about devolution, I think we should not aggregate or rush to conclude where all Nigerians are on issues.
“I think that we should try and ensure that we get everybody’s buy-in on very major issues like this.
“I want to re-emphasise that we need to be very sensitive on how we go about addressing these issues.
“That somebody is not on my own page does not mean that the person is not somebody I can engage with or do things with,’’ Saraki said.
“As I said, I cannot kick you out of Nigeria; you cannot push me out of Nigeria; this Nigeria belongs to all of us, we have chosen, in spite of all our diversities, to be one.
“What is needed now is the political skill, in spite of those things that divide us, to be able to come together in the things that are important to make a modern country.
“There is no point having a country that will not give opportunities for its people. That is why I believe that certain powers to the state will ensure and create better opportunities for everybody.
“But, there are some that might think otherwise, and the answer is not to stampede them to say `look, this is where we are, what is wrong with you’. It is not going to bring the result; it will even set us back,” he added.