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Many States ‘will go bankrupt’, if we pay N30,000 minimum wage, Governor warns

PRESIDENT BUHARI MEETS SOME APC GOVS 4. President Muhammadu Buhari in a handshake with Chairman of APC Governors' forum and Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari and others meeting with some APC Governors at the State House. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE. OCT 4 2018

With a hotly-anticipated N30,000 minimum wage decision looming, state governors are warning a staggering number of states are on the brink of financial disaster.

” We will be bankrupt, said NGF chairman and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdelaziz Yari, on Wednesday night after a meeting.

Yari stressed that it is impracticable to implement the N30,000 minimum wage without downsizing the workforce all over the country.

“We have seen what has been presented to the president by the committee, as a member of the committee Kebbi Governor said the comittee did not take our submission of N22,500 because it came late. I am surprised how you can do this without the input of the states, because the states are the key stakeholders in this business. So a situation whereby our report is not taken or considered by the tripartite committee to present to the president then I don’t know how the committee want us to work.

“But we still say we want to pay  but the issue is the ability to pay. If we say no, it is not about the ability to pay, just pay, I don’t know how this formulae will come and I don’t know how we can get solution to the issue.

” The N18,000 today, when the president assume office  27 states were not able to pay, not that they choose not to pay. So now that you say N30,000, how many of them can pay?  So as Nigerians we should look at the issue seriously. While other people are saying that governors are flying private jet and living in affluence, that one is not luxury but compulsory.

“The issue of government overhead cost if you put it together with personnel cost, it cannot solve this problem. Like Lagos that is paying about N7 billion as salaries if you say it should pay N30,000, now  it wiĺl be N13 billion. From our calculation, it is only Lagos State that will be able to pay N30,000. As Nigerians, this is our country, there is no other country we have and we should be fair to this country.”

“As for the way forward, we will continue to talk with Labour, let them see reasons why governors have difficulties. Some of us have Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). For instance, the money Lagos state is using to pay is not coming from Abuja. They have a way of getting their money from the IGR and that is why they can afford to pay. They get money through VAT. Apart from Lagos, even Rivers cannot afford to pay. So we have been crying out about this since 2011 but no one will listen. One critical example is that some state ration their salaries while some other put everything they earn on the table and ask labour to come and see  and they ask them to suggest how much should go for capital and personnel cost. Some say 70 percent for personnel cost and 30 percent for capital projects and yet the states cannot pay and they put the remaining as outstanding.

“If you are talking about oil, The price is not what it use to be, from last year to date, it is $20 less from $75 to $55. So where is the money to pay?

“We should not exploit this matter further  we are leaders today, tomorrow others will be there. So let us look at this matter seriously to see how we can do it properly. It is our primary responsibility to see that everybody is happy.”

When reminded that part of Labour grouse was that Governors have refused to submit audited account, the NGF chairman said, “we have given the committee audited account of the states to guide them. But if they put the audited account for the past 10-14 years, can you get something out of it? We are going to use the report of the audited committee to make further presentation.

“It is the same labour that is pushing for the N30,000 that will still turn around to say that the governors did not do any infrastructure and how are we going to achieve that by paying only salaries?”

Organized Labour has given December date as deadline for all processes leading to the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage else they will embark on another round of strike.

Meanwhile, Governors of 36 states of the federation under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) have resolved to put together another committee to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, to work out another formula to address the issue of the minimum wage.

The members of the committee to see President Buhari are governors of Lagos, Akinwumi Ambode, Kebbi – Atiku Bagudu, Plateau – Simon Lalong, Bauchi – Mohammed Abubakar, Akwa Ibom – Udom Emmanuel, Ebonyi – Dave Umahi, Enugu – Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Kaduna – Nasir El-Rufai.

 

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Written by Opeyemi Abegunde

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