Governors under the auspices of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), have called for the examination of the national income in the last 14 years to enable them reach a middle ground over the contentious issue of minimum wage implementation.
According to them, they were not voted in to pay salaries only but also to provide good roads, electricity, education and other necessary amenities, adding that they cannot perform magic as they need funds to provide these things.
The chairman of the NGF and Zamfara state governor, Abdulaziz Yari, said this was part of the discussion they had Wednesday night at the meeting.
The committee working on the minimum wage is almost concluding negotiations on the matter, while Federal Government had set a September date to roll out a new minimum wage for workers.
The governors are insisting on the staggering of the implementation of the new wage if approved while the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is proposing a minimum wage of N65,000 for workers.
Speaking further, the NGF chairman said governor’s regretted that states government have been limited to only paying of salaries and unable to take care of development responsibilities in other sectors such as health, electricity, education, among others.
Yari said on minimum wage: “We have a committee of six which represented us in discussions in the committee headed by Labour minister. The committee is yet to give us the final report. When they give us the final report, for which they have our mandate to present our position, and the position most likely is to look at the record of up to 14 years.
“For instance, in global practice, in your income, how much are you spending as salary? So that we can start from there. They have given us interim report, that at the federal government level, over 82 percent is being spent on overhead which cannot move the country forward in terms of infrastructure development and development that we need now.
“So, on our own part, we are saying we are going to look at how our income are trained from our final account from 14 years ago so that we can come up and stay in the middle.
“I don’t think you people voted us for only to pay salaries. You are looking for good roads, electricity, education and others. So, we can’t do magic. It’s only when we have the funds do all those things.”
Yari said the governors also deliberated on On the way the anti-graft agencies’ have been handling of the war on corruption in the country and resolved that they must adhere strictly on due process rather than engage in illegalities.
Yari said while the governors support the present administration’s effort to curtail corruption, they were however uncomfortable with some of the actions taken by the nation’s anti-corruption agencies.
Speaking against the backdrop of the freezing of Akwa Ibom and Benue states government accounts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Yari told reporters that even President Muhammadu Buhari will not support the illegalities perpetrated by the agencies.
He said: “We believe strongly that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari will not sit down and supervise this illegality in the system.
“What we are saying is that we all support the government to fight corruption because it is endemic and has suffered the nation for over six decades. Definitely, it was part of what we discussed.
“What we are saying now is that we are going to support the government in terms of what it is doing to fight corruption, but the due process must be respected in whatever action the agencies are going to take in the name of fighting corruption.”