*FG to pay N30,000
*Bill gets to NASS tomorrow
*NCS unaware of opposition plot to disrupt polls
The Council of State, at its meeting chaired by President Muhammad Buhari this afternoon approved N27,000 per month as the new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers.
This is N3,000 less than the N30,000 demanded by the organised labour, failure of which it had threatened to mobilise workers for nationwide industrial action. Current wage is N18,000.
The Federal Government has however, opted to pay its workers the N30,000 demanded by Labour, while asking the labour unions to go negotiate with state governments if they want higher figures for state government workers.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, announced the approval of the new wage to State House correspondents in Abuja at the end of the NCS, which also comprises of the Vice-President, past presidents and heads of state, Chief Justices of Nigeria, leadership of the National Assembly, and state governors; and is the highest advisory body to the President.
Ngige explained that the new minimum wage of N27,000 per month is reviewable every five years, but that organisations and companies employing less than 25 persons are exempted from it.
Also, sanctions for defaulters are prescribed in an Executive Bill that will be sent to the National Assembly tomorrow (Wednesday), he stated.
The minister further pointed out that the relevant standing committees of the National Assembly would be expected to work on he bill even while the legislative plenary is on recess.
Ngige pointed out that “in consonance with the fact that the issues of national minimum wage prescription is in the exclusive list, second schedule, Item 34 and being on that list, it is not a job that can be done by the Executive alone. The president has to transmit the bill to the National Assembly and the National Assembly will take legislative action and return the bill that has been so treated to the president for his assent.
“So, a bill will now be transmitted to the National Assembly that will amend the 1981 Act and 2011 Act. The figure of N27,000 monthly has been approved for transmission to the National Assembly. The frequency of the review of the bill is five years, to get it in consonance with pension law of the federation as enshrined in the constitution.
“Exemptions to this bill will be establishments that are not employing people up to the number of 25. The various times prescribed have also been altered in the bill and will be sent to the National Assembly before the close of work tomorrow (Wednesday).”
Meanwhile, the NCS meeting was briefed by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on its preparedness for general elections starting next month.
Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, who briefed the press on this, said the Council was convinced of the readiness of the INEC to conduct credible polls.
According to the governor, the INEC chairman’s presentation was very clear, lucid and all encompassing; and it was agreed that the commission’s boss should similarly address the nation ahead of the polls to further convince and assure the citizens and voters.
The NCS heard from INEC that all funds requested for the polls had been released, so training of staff and procurement of the materials are either completed or ongoing, while the Commission will continue to use varsity academic staff and members of the National Youth Service Corps as ad-hoc staff for elections.
“They have improved card readers, the details of what have been done to improve it was made known. It was made known that look, the process of continuous voting and accreditation system was the best so that when you are accredited, you vote at the same time and you leave.
“INEC as at today is ready for election and questions were put, he was interrogated and he responded and gave adequate explanations to the satisfaction of every one of us”, he said.
On the recent allegation made by former president Obasanjo, who was at the meeting, that INEC was being compromised ahead of the polls, Akeredolu replied that “I think that all of us in the hall have heard that look, whatever it is, we have now listened t the chairman of INEC and we are convinced that they are prepared for the election.
“I am not sure any other person will come out to talk about INEC any longer. So, the point has been made, all of us now have our hands on deck to ensure the success. Because, without our participation, without our cooperation, INEC itself cannot be successful.”
Asked about the plot to disrupt the polls by the opposition parties as alleged by Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, a day earlier, Governor Akeredolu said such issue was not discussed by the NCS because no fact to the allegation was available to it.
His words: “Seriously, there was no discussion on that. As we mentioned to you, what we received was briefing by INEC on how prepared they are for the election. So, their level of preparedness that was what we listened to.
“There is no way INEC will come and tell us, they have information on what opposition is doing or what opposition is not doing but what INEC is doing is what was received and there was no discussion about that. I am not too sure that we have that fact.”
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