Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi has stressed the need for the Federal Government to address the current revenue allocation formula to enable state governments pay the new minimum wage being requested by workers.
Fayemi stated this when he received the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, who paid him a courtesy visit at his office in Ado-Ekiti on Friday.
The Governor, who explained that the N30,000 minimum wage was not a comfortable living wage for workers, said he was convinced that governors would pay if the Federal Government created the enabling environment for them to do so.
He suggested a collective approach by labour leadership, the government and the general public.
The NLC President, who met with the Governor together with some national and state labour union leaders, had solicited the cooperation of all governors in the payment of the N30,000 minimum wage, adding that all states should be able to afford it.
Fayemi said the issue of affordability was key, stating that Ekiti had always paid above the national minimum wage as the state is currently paying N19,350 as against the N18,000 official minimum wage.
He, however, added that for Ekiti State to pay the new N30,000 minimum wage, it would need an additional N2 billion to the current wage bill of N2.6 billion, totalling N4.6 billion. This, he said is the case in many other states.
Ekiti receives about N3 billion in federal allocations monthly.
“I am not holding brief for the governors because I am the youngest among them, having only come to office barely a month ago, so I cannot speak on what has transpired in your negotiation in the course of this tripartite committee, but I do not blame governors who believe that N30,000 is luxury salary for workers,” the governor stated at the meeting with the labour leader.
Continuing, Fayemi said that: “There is no doubt in my mind that all governors know that that cannot be a comfortable living wage and I have not had any single governor argue otherwise. If I were to put myself in the shoes of my colleagues, giving the fact on ground in Ekiti, I think it’s always the question of affordability, ability to pay.
“As long as we have the revenue allocation formula that we have in the country, even in states where you have willing partners and comrades that are not going to contend the N30,000 figure, if nothing is done about current revenue allocation, this will be tough on states.
“In fact, this N30,000 is not even enough, Mr President, I don’t know anyone who can really live comfortably on N30,000 let alone the N18,000 we are currently paying.
“I think we need a collective approach to this beyond the game of numbers. The workers are very critical components to the productive base of our country, because it is the human capital and it has to be a motivated human capital, it has to be an enthusiastic human capital that can deliver the goods to the populace.
“You are in a state that pays minimum wage of N19,350 which is above the current minimum wage. With an allocation of N3.2 billion last month and a wage bill of N2.6 billion leaving a balance of N700 million to do other things. I have just been basing my calculation on that, N30,000 and majority or at least half of our workers are below minimum wage now. If we were to pay the N30,000, we would require an additional N2 billion every month,” he concluded.
Earlier, labour leader Wabba had lauded Fayemi for his administration’s record on workers welfare, citing the recent release of N200 million for teacher’s car and housing loans as well as the abolishing of development levies in public primary and secondary schools in the state.
“We know your pedigree and I am not surprised about this. We know you are a friend of workers. In 2012, you were the first to pay the N18,000 minimum wage in the South-West and second in Nigeria. You even paid N19,300,” Wabba said.
The NLC boss went on to stress that state governments must ensure transparency and accountability in regards to what is due to workers.
He expressed optimism that the federal government would take all necessary steps to ensure that the new minimum wage becomes a reality.