Amid concerns over the ability of states and local governments to pay the new National Minimum Wage of N30,000, the Presidency said on Tuesday that it expected every state to comply with the payment.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Thursday signed the N30,000 National Minimum Wage Bill into law and directed that the implementation should commence immediately.
It replaces the current N18,000 minimum wage, which had been in place since 2011.
Speaking exclusively with The PUNCH in Abuja on Tuesday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, said the President expected all the states to pay the new wage.
Enang said, “For Mr President, he has signed the bill. Remember that the negotiations took place for over two years and all these things (funding) were taken into account and they were addressed by the committee.
“The governors and the local governments were all heard before eventually it was agreed that N30,000 should be the minimum wage from the initial demand of labour.
“I don’t think we should entertain any fears until there is any implementation problem.”
The presidential liaison officer further told The PUNCH that the only immediate challenge might be that some of the states had already passed their 2019 budgets before the new Act came into effect.
For such states, he said the option for them was to consider supplementary budgets to make up for the difference between N18,000 and N30,000.
He said, “The only fear may be that some states may have already passed their budgets (2019) on the basis of N18,000, without the inclusion of the wage increase; in which case, they may have to consider a supplementary budget.
“Even the Federal Government today is still operating the 2018 budget, which had N18,000 as the minimum wage. The 2019 budget, which contains the provision for N30,000, has yet to be passed by the National Assembly.
“For the FG, it will only do adjustment of cost when the budget is passed without needing an additional appropriation.”
The PUNCH recalls that most of the state governors had opposed the N30,000 minimum wage during negotiations with labour.
At the January 17 National Economic Council meeting held in Abuja, it was learnt that the governors rejected the N30,000, insisting on N22,500.
They reportedly gave two conditions that would enable them to pay 30,000. They proposed a review of the revenue-sharing formula or reduction in workforce.
Under the current revenue sharing formula, the Federal Government takes the lion’s share of 52.68 per cent from the Federation Account. The 36 states take 26.72 per cent while the balance of 20.60 per cent is given to the 774 local governments in the country.