The National Council of State has approved N27,000 as the minimum wage for the country.
The council approved the amount at its meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.
Following the Council’s approval, a minimum wage bill is expected to be sent to the National Assembly on Wednesday. According to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, the Federal Government is topping the approved amount by N3,000 to 30,000 for its workers.
He said the states are at liberty to augment the new agreement as they see fit. Although there are exemptions, private and public organisations employing less than 25 workers are bounded by the N18,000 minimum wage.
The Council, however, set N27,000 as the new benchmark that any lowest paid worker (that is Grade Level 1 Step 1) would get. The amount approved by the Council of State is N3,000 short of the N30,000 that the Tripartite Committee on Review of National Minimum Wage recommended.
The committee, chaired by a former Head of Service of the Federation, Ms Ama Pepple, had submitted the report, which contained the recommended figure, to President Muhammadu Buhari on November 6, 2018, after many months of deliberations.
Prior to the committee’s recommendation, in October, state governors had offered to pay N22,500 as minimum wage.
Nine days after the committee recommended N30,000, on November 15, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum insisted that the states cannot pay the amount, leading to criticism by organized Labour which insisted on N30,000.
On January 8, 2019, the Nigeria Labour Congress held a nationwide protest over what it said was the delay by the Federal Government to transmit a new minimum wage bill to the National Assembly.
President Muhammadu Buhari presided over the Council of State’s meeting which had in attendance Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, as well as former Presidents, Heads of State, and former Chief Justices of Nigeria.
They include Ernest Shonekan, Olusegun Obasanjo, Abdulsalami Abubakar, and Goodluck Jonathan, while Yakubu Gowon was absent.
Others present are Senate President Bukola Saraki, governors of Zamfara, Kebbi, Plateau, Lagos, Borno, and Ebonyi, as well as members of the President’s cabinet.