Bobboi Kaigama, President, Trade Union Congress (TUC), on Thursday, said there was no controversy surrounding the N30,000 new national minimum wage proposal contained in the report of the tripartite committee set up by the Federal Government.
Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, while speaking with State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, said President Muhammadu Buhari would still study the report presented to him on Tuesday by the chairman of the committee, Ama Pepple, before taking a decision on it. Ama Pepple while presenting the report on Tuesday disclosed that the committee recommended that the national minimum wage be increased from N18,000 monthly to N30,000.
Lai Mohammed, however, said on Wednesday Buhari would only take a decision and make his view known after considering the report.
“I think it (N30,000) was a recommendation. Mr. President will consider it and will make his views known in due course,” the minister said.
Following Mohammed’s statement that the tripartite committee’s report was only a recommendation, Nigerians called on the president to keep faith with the agreement freely reached with labour and affirm the new minimum wage.
While clarifying the issue, Kaigama said the recommendations of the tripartite committee will be sent to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for consideration and onward transmission to the National Assembly for the new minimum wage to be passed into law first, before the president can now assent to it.
According to him, Buhari need not pronounce any figure for the new national minimum wage otherwise he would have passed judgment on it, noting that there was “no controversy over the figure (N30,000)”.
Meanwhile, the presidency has reacted to speculation that President Muhammadu Buhari may have reneged on his initial acceptance of the N30, 000 recommended as the new national minimum wage for workers in the country.
The presidency did so in a statement made available by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in Abuja, on Thursday.
It noted that steps were being taken to transmit the new wage bill to the National Assembly.
According to the Presidential Spokesman, until the proposed minimum wage had gone through the whole gamut of law-making, President Buhari, who is a stickler for due process, would not speak on the matter, an act that would amount to putting the cart before the horse and hair-splitting.
In setting the records straight, Adesina said the reports were contrary to what transpired on Tuesday when the committee presented its report to the president.
He said President Buhari, while receiving the report, acknowledged the concerns raised by government on affordability and labour’s focus on meaningful increase, stated clearly in a speech which was made available to the media.
Adesina quoted the president as saying: “In a way, both arguments are valid. I want to assure you all that we will immediately put in place the necessary machinery that will close out these open areas.
“Our plan is to transmit an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for passage within the shortest possible time. I am fully committed to having a new National Minimum Wage Act in the very near future.
“As the executive arm commences its review of your submission, we will continue to engage you all in closing any open areas presented in this report. I, therefore, would like to ask for your patience and understanding in the coming weeks.”
Explaining further, Adesina said throughout the report–submission ceremony, the president never mentioned any figure.
He said what the president committed himself to a new minimum wage, and only after the report of the committee had been reviewed by the executive and legislative processes of government and an appropriate bill presented to him for assent.
“As for those who have latched onto the concocted controversy to play cheap politics, we appeal to them to remember that elections are not won through loquaciousness, and trying to demean the president at every drop of a hat.
“But then, it is not surprising, as they have nothing else to sell to Nigerians, if they don’t ride on the name of the president. Stiff judgment awaits them at the polls,” Adesina said.