The 36 state governors under the aegis of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF said yesterday that they were not in any way opposed to new minimum wage for workers in the country.
Rising from a meeting in Abuja yesterday, the governors who noted that the Organised Labour was right to agitate for salary increase, however said that their concern is the ability to implement it and pay, adding that the problem was not just about agreeing to a figure, but the availability of resources to meet up with the commitment.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting in Abuja, Governor of Zamfara State and Chairman of NGF, Abdulaziz Yari stressed that with the present minimum wage at N18,000, many states were struggling to pay with some of them already hugely indebted.
The Organized Labour is asking for N30,000 whereas the government is offering N24,000. Yari said: “Like we said, we can do minimum wage on any amount we need but the issue is the ability to pay the minimum wage agreed in the last meeting which the Minister of Labour attended with the negotiation committee and also the committe that we also set up.
“We made it clear that we are not against the upward review of salary, we are in tandem with the NLC to get the minimum wage reviewed but the problem we are having is the capacity to pay what is agreed
. “As at today, most of the states are struggling to pay the N18,000 minimum wage. Some states are paying between 35 to 50% of the minimum wage and some states are owing salary arears.
“If we say we are going to do an upward review of the minimum wage, it is not about only reviewing it but how we are going to get the resources to cater for it.” Meanwhile, the National President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, was invited to brief the Forum on states’ performance in the use of London and Paris Club refunds. It would be recalled that the Federal Government disbursed the fund to states with the condition to use larger percentage of the money to pay workers’ salaries.
Speaking further, Yari said, “Also, sometimes ago, London and Paris Club refund was paid and part of the agreement was that we will deal with the issues of workers and it was a serious agreement that we signed with the Minister of Finance and the Federal government that the larger chunk of the money will be channeled to payment of salaries.
“Some states are in the process but one of the conditions critically accepted is to ensure that this funds was utilised acccording to the agreement. “We invited the National President of the Nigerian Labour Congress to give us a details on how some states have performed. Some states that are not up to date have signed an MOU with the NLC and their representatives in states on how they can overcome the issue of salary arears and that has been done and it will be taken to the CBN so that those states will be paid.”
Also speaking to reporters after the meeting, Wabba who insisted that workers cannot continue to provide services on empty stomach, said that even though Labour was prepared to dialogue on the minimum wage issue, but there is limit to it. Wabba said:
“All through history of minimum wage in Nigeria, it has never been given on a platter of gold. We thought the situation has changed, things have improved, and therefore, through collective bargaining and dialogue, we will be able to reach a compromise.
“If we do that, fine and good. Where that is not done, you should also know that no worker can continue to work on an empty stomach.
That has been our message. We will continue to dialogue but there is also a limit to dialogue.”
The NLC boss noted that the challenge in the Nigerian economy especially the eroding of the purchasing power of the worker caused by continuous devaluation of the naira, the exchange rate, the increase in pump price of petrol and electricity tariff, have affected the Nigerian worker. Wabba who observed that by law, the minimum wage ought to have been reviewed as far back as 2016 as previously agreed, said, “All these factors put together necessitated the NLC and organized Labour to demand for a new minimum wage which is in tandem with best global practice.
“What we are telling the Governors is that the minimum wage is due and everybody must be committed to it, committed to it in the sense that every state was given an opportunity to…when the (negotiation) committee finished its work, we wrote individually to the state governments to send in input.
“Twenty one states responded in writing. Some quoted figures, some said, whatever is agreed, they are going to pay. Some have made statements that they are going to pay. “So, for anybody to come under a platform and say ‘well, we have issue with that,’ I think the best thing is to go back to their states, put your workers together and say ‘I will not be able to pay.
That is what I think is honourable, that is what I think is supposed to be done.” However, the Labour leader said that he pleaded with the governors that they should understand that the workers must earn a living from their salary as they provide critical services in the system.
LG Boss Uncovers Bloodstained Army Uniform At ‘Cocaine Village’
The newly inaugurated Chairman of Eleme Local Government Area, Obarilormate Ollor, has gone to ‘Cocaine village’ at Eleme Trailer Park to execute Governor Nyesom Wike’s quit order on residents of the illegal settlement when he made a shock discovery in one of the rooms.
Ollor had visited the area notorious for drugs and crimes, last Sunday, along with some security personnel to serve the quit notice on residents but met the area deserted—an indication that someone had alerted them about the visit.
Out of curiosity, the chairman opened one of the rooms in the ghetto-like settlement, and found the bloodstained uniform of a soldier, his knife and ATM card.
The chairman and his entourage had expressed suspicion that criminals in the area had killed the owner of the uniform and robbed him.
Ollor said, “Remember that a week ago, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, gave a directive that all illegal structures be removed. As the chief security officer of the local government, I am under that obligation.
“What we are doing here today is to inform them in advance and to remind them that the ultimatum still holds. So, on or before June 26, they should move out.
“What we have here is a mixed population of criminals, armed robbers, drug dealers, and even those who allegedly trade in human parts. Right now, we just found the uniform of an Army man who probably may have been killed. His blood all over the room and uniform, his knife and ATM card, which we have given to the police.”
The Rivers State Police Command has reportedly swung into action to unravel the perpetrators of the alleged crime.
Spokesman of the police, SP Nnamdi Omoni, said that the command had received reports about criminal activities in the area, including the alleged killing of a soldier.
Omoni said, “We have gotten complaints and reports of drug traffickers, criminal elements, human organ dealers, kidnappers and more from there.
“Though we have been carrying out investigation into all of the reports but thank God, we now have a good lead and evidence.
“We have been mandated by the state government to carry out massive arrest within the environs to ensure we arrest and prosecute all those persons involved.”
Residents said that the ‘Cocaine village’ is a haven for drug dealers and users, adding that security operatives also patronize the area.
An aide of the Eleme LG chairman, who spoke off-the-record said, “The governor received an intelligence report that the slum harbours criminals and drug addicts who carry out series of crimes, human organ trafficking, abductions and many other criminal acts in the LGA and state at large.
“We learnt also that some security men troop in there off and on to buy drugs and indulge in one crime or the other.
“The military uniform stained with blood, knife and motorcycle discovered were found in one of the rooms we opened.
“The badge of the military uniform was removed and there were heavy blood stains on the uniform.
“We went there with some police men as assigned to us by the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command, Eboka Friday”, he added.
Insecurity Hasn’t Hindered Projects’ Execution In Rivers, Wike Affirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike says that his administration has fearlessly tackled insecurity headlong and created an enabling climate for smooth delivery of quality development projects.
Wike made the assertion at the inauguration of 16.2-kilometre long Omueze-Umuogba-Umuokpurukpu-Umueke-Umunju-Eberi Road project in Omuma Local Government Area of the state, yesterday.
The governor noted that while other states of the country were still struggling with issues of insecurity, Rivers State was witnessing harvest of development projects with the non-stop inauguration and flag-off ceremonies to their amazement.
“Don’t fight anybody that God has blessed. Don’t fight the state that God has blessed. People are talking about insecurity. We are talking about commissioning and flagging-off of projects. Is it easy? If it is easy, let them try it.”
Wike asserted that it is only states controlled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) like Rivers that has created a peaceful climate for the citizens while the government delivers democratic dividends.
“Those who say they don’t like what PDP is doing, they have no choice but to like it. You can see what the party (PDP) is doing. We are flagging-off and commissioning projects. Whether they like it or not, we are in charge.”
The governor said it is obvious that Rivers State is no longer on the same level with states that cannot provide dividend of democracy to their people.
Wike said the performance of his administration has restored confidence in Rivers people and they can walk with their heads raised high.
“Rivers people, are you not proud of your state? If you’re a Rivers man, anywhere you go, raise your shoulder high and say that you’re a Rivers man and woman. “They (other parties) can only jealous us, but they cannot do anything. We are of different class. We are not on the same level with them.”
Speaking further, Wike commended the member representing Omuma State Constituency, Hon. KelechiNwogufor his loyalty to PDP.
He also extolled him for his commitment to the welfare of Omuma people and being a trusted ally to him.
At the behest of Nwogu, Wike promised Omuma people that his administration would reconstruct the Umuakali-Eberi Road in appreciation of their support to the PDP.
Inaugurating the project, former President of the Senate, Senator Adolphus Wabara, noted how Wike has redefined governance and broken the jinx of non-performance associated with second tenure governors.
According to him, the approach to development that the governor has adopted stands him out as a much sought-after leader who should be consulted in solving critical national issues related to governance.
“With my experience in elective politics, second terms of most governors are dull; some governors will just go to sleep because they don’t have anything to offer. But you are still commissioning projects, as if you’re not even going to leave.
“Your developmental approach, your developmental plans, and formula should make you an international consultant to the failing government. Because, quite frankly, the magic, I mean, nobody knows except you. You do it with ease, you do it with happiness.”
Providing the description of the project, Rivers State Commissioner for Works, EllokaTasie-Amadi said the Omueze-Umuogba-Umuokpurukpu-Umueke-Umunju-Eberi link road in Omuma Local Government Area was another genuine efforts of the Wike administration to ease the transportation difficulties experienced by rural dwellers in the Omuma.
“Many of these rural projects go unsung probably because the residents are not social media savvy, as in the case of Omuma, who are predominantly farmers, or probably because SM activities are not a part of their past times as it is with city dwellers.
“It may shock you to know that for every kilometre of road we have built in the city we have built 12kms or more in the rural areas. This is a conservative estimate I would like you to ponder upon when you get home.”
He further stated, “This project is a 16.2km long, 10.3m wide road project which has 4.3km of drains. The roads are marked and have a total of 27 road signs to aid driving and enhance public safety.”
Wike Flags Off Abonnema/ Obonoma Sandfilling Project, Today
All is now set for the flag-off of the Abonnema/Obonoma Sandfilling project in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.
A statement signed by the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, yesterday, said that, “the project will sandfill 42 hectares of land that will help expand Abonnema and Obonoma Towns.
“It is in fulfilment of the promise made by Governor Nyesom Wike during the commissioning of the Abonnema Ring Road”.
The statement further added that, “The rich culture and tradition of the Kalabaris will be fully on display at the event.
“Please, note that all Covid-19 protocols will be observed at the event”, it stressed.
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