Workers, yesterday, won a major victory in their battle for N30,000 minimum wage.
Senate passed the National Minimum Wage Bill, which the President is expected to sign into law.
The approval of N30,000 contrary to the N27,000 recommended by Federal Government in a Bill it sent to National Assembly in January.
The lawmakers urged Federal Government to initiate immediately the review of the revenue sharing formula to ensure seamless implementation of the minimum wage at the state and local government levels.
Under the current revenue formula, the Federal Government receives 56 per cent from the federation account including four per cent ecology fund, states 24 per cent while 20 per cent go to the 774 local government areas.
Apart from passage of the bill, the upper chamber also urged Federal Government to prepare and forward to the National Assembly, a supplementary appropriation Bill to cover the new approval.
House of Representatives had earlier passed the Bill shortly before National Assembly adjourned for the general elections in January.
Senate’s Deputy Chief Whip Mr Francis Alimikhena, who chaired the Ad-Hoc Committee on National Minimum Wage, presented the report of his committee to the chamber for consideration and adoption.
In his presentation of the 18-clause report, the Edo North Senator, noted that the N5,000 fine stipulated in clause 3(1) of the Bill against any employer who failed to keep records of employees was increased to N75,000 to ensure compliance.
He prayed the Senate to approve the N30,000 minimum wage as recommended by his committee.
Although no senator opposed the N30,000 minimum wage, contributors to the report insisted that the subsisting revenue sharing formula should be reviewed to enable states and local governments to pay.
Senate Minority Leader Mrs. Abiodun Olujimi, in her contribution, noted that without the review of the revenue sharing formula, states and local governments would lack the required financial capacity to pay the new wage.
She said: “The essence of formulating any policy or passing a bill is to see to its implementation for the required results. If revenue sharing formula is not reviewed in a way that will make states and local governments to get more funds from the monthly allocations, implementing the new minimum wage may be difficult for them.”
Mr Barnabas Gemade (Benue North East), who also contributed, agreed that the review of the subsisting revenue sharing formula was long overdue.
He, however, insisted that even without the review, no state could claim lack of financial capacity to pay the N30,000 new minimum wage going by the amount of money state governors spent to allegedly buy votes during the just concluded elections.
Gemade said: “Going by the volume of money and enormous amount spent by various state governors to buy votes in the just concluded general elections, no state can claim not to have the financial wherewithal to pay the new minimum wage.
“If a state through its governor, has billions to buy votes, the same state should through the governor, pay the new N30,000 minimum wage to her workers.”
Senate President Bukola Saraki noted that with the passage of the bill, industrial harmony and improved national productivity will be achieved.
NLC seeks prompt implementation
Thrilled by the passage of a New National Minimum Wage Bill by National Assembly, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is seeking the immediate implementation of the bill.
To Labour, workers would have a good cause to celebrate this year’s edition of Workers’ Day if the payment takes effect before May 1.
The Congress commended the Senate for passing the bill, following the footstep of House of Representatives which had earlier passed it.
Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) had earlier said it would not be able to pay N30,000 as minimum wage, offering to pay N24,000 even as President Muhammadu Buhari forwarded N27,000 to National Assembly as minimum wage.
Both chambers of National Assembly set up special ad hoc committees, headed by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and Deputy Speaker Yussuff Lasun to conduct public hearing and submit their reports for consideration.
However, House of Representatives immediately passed the bill into law before embarking on break for 2019 general elections, while the Senate passed the bill at its sitting yesterday.
Acting NLC President Najeem Yasin said though the bill has been passed by both chambers, the battle for the minimum wage was not yet over, saying workers would not rest until the bill is signed and implemented.
He said: “We commend the senate for the quick passage. But it is not yet over because we want them to make sure that the process gets to the logical conclusion and for the quick implementation of that N30,000. Nigerian workers are happy and commend them.
“We stand by the N75,000 punishment for employers who fail to implement the law which has been passed. We have been fighting for this N30,000 for a long time and the governors have been opposed to it. But now, it has been passed. Nigerian workers are now looking forward to the signing of the bill into law.
“We want them to start implementing it before the May Day celebration so that Nigerian workers can have good reasons to celebrate.”