Chris Steven, Abuja
The report of the Technical Committee on Minimum Wage and Palliatives chaired by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige on Wednesday was submitted in Abuja.
Speaking while handing over the document to the main Committee on Minimum Wage and Palliatives headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, the Minister said the welfare of Nigerian workers was key to the change Agenda of the present administration.
“Recall that in May 2016, the Federal Government effected an upward review of the pump price of premium motor spirit to between N143 to N145 and on 17th May set up a Committee comprising representatives of Labour and government to seek out palliatives to cushion the effects of the pump price increase as well as look into the review of the minimum wage which is a constitutional matter.”
“Government did this knowing full well the attendant sufferings which the nation’s workforce, indeed, regular Nigerians were passing through as a result of this tough government decision, taken anyway in the overall interest of the generality of the people.”
“The present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had no option than to demonstrate that whatever decision it has taken was in pursuit of the wellbeing of the citizenry. And today, the report of the technical committee is ready and we are confident that its far reaching submissions will make a lot of meaning in the life of the Nigerian worker and that of his family,” the Minister noted.
He further said the submissions of his committee were in two volumes comprising the Minimum Wage and the Palliatives noting that the minimum wage was last reviewed in 2010 and signed into law in 2011 under the previous administration of President Jonathan, adding that the current exercise was in compliance to a five –year constitutional provision on minimum wage review.
“We have no problem in tackling the issue of the minimum wage. We recommended a 29-man Minimum Wage Committee to be chaired by a reputable Nigerian, who will be neutral and non-partisan, with labour and civil service experience so that the person would be on a familiar turf.”
There will also be a secretary with the secretariat of the committee to be domiciled at the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission. Eight persons are expected to represent each of the following; the Federal Government, the organized labour, organized private sector and three members representing the state government to be drawn from the Governors Forum, the All Progressives Congress( APC) Governors Forum and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum.
On Palliatives, the Minister said the Committee identified dwindling economic fortunes of the Federal Government as the major problem having taken submissions from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Budget and Planning as well as the Ministry of Finance. He however enthused that the committee made far reaching recommendations capable of alleviating the sufferings of the masses.
“We made all-encompassing recommendations in the areas of salaries, allowances, promotions and pensions both at the state and federal levels; affordable housing and transport to help out suffering workers of Nigeria. We also looked at the mass transit scheme. And in housing, we recommended that government through its ministries and agencies should give more support for mass housing for civil servants by invigorating the Federal Mortgage Bank, as well as assisting the housing schemes being undertaken by the labour unions and further support workers to venture into agriculture.”
Speaking at the event, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal thanked the technical committee especially the organized labour for their cooperation and input into the report and restated the commitment of the Federal Government to study and take it to fruition.
“We have to work hard and diligently too, to conclude our report and make a submission to government because I know that this government is favourably disposed to the improved welfare of Nigerians as a whole. We should take the opportunity of this disposition to conclude our report and send it to the President for consideration,” the SGF concluded.