Fayemi: Why Each State Should Determine Minimum Wage

Fayemi Constitutes Ekiti C’ttee on Review of 1999 Constitution
  • Wants Item Moved To Concurrent List 
  • Says Calls For Secession Borne out of Citizens’ Frustration

By Abiola Olawale (The New Diplomat’s Southwest Bureau)

Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi on Tuesday reacted to the ongoing controversy rocking the implementation of the national minimum wage in the country as he called for the item to be moved to the concurrent list for states to legislate on it.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has been demanding for the full implementation of the national minimum wage act assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari in all the states of the federation in line with the global best practice.

But many governors and lawmakers across the country have argued that the minimum wage should be moved from the exclusive list to the concurrent list, given the fact that socio-economic variables in individual states and parts of the country differ.

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Fayemi, who gave his take on the issue while speaking on Arise TV, Tuesday, argued that the minimum wage should rather be decided by the state governments in line with their revenue generation.

Fayemi, who is the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) said each state should be allowed to negotiate with its chapter of NLC on the minimum wage as the resources generated are not the same across the states of the federation.

In his words, “This is not a new position that Governors are taking. I have been a Governor for a while now, and I happen to have been part of these conversations for quite a considerable length of time. Governors are not saying that they don’t want minimum wage, Governors are saying that if we want to carry restructuring to its logical conclusion, then you should not have a national wage.  They are not even stopping at that, they are saying that all wage structures and salaries that are uniformly defined nationally, they are problematic.

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“For example, there is no reason why the governor of Ekiti state should earn the same salary as the governor of Lagos or Rivers state. The resources are not the same, and even the Expenditure you incur living in Ekiti is not the same, the rent is not the same. And if you want to take that with logical conclusion, we always like to compare ourselves, my brother, the president of NLC, always likes to talk about minimum wage in America. The truth of the matter is that it is not national in America. The governor of Maine earns $90,000 per annum while the governor of California earns $210,000, per annum. The reason is obviously, it’s a no brainer, the resources available to California, is not the same resources available to Maine.

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“There is nothing in the high-low regulations that is often cited that says you cannot have minimum wage that response to the challenges at the local level, that is not to say you want to pay slave wages, and no Governor as ever suggested that. As a matter of if you recall in the first Republic, western region of Nigeria, had a better minimum wage, than the Federal government of Nigeria. Some people would leave unlike now that people leave state service to go to federal service, then, many people use to leave federal civil service to go to the state service. So, the fact that you have different minimum wage, does not mean that a state will necessarily pay something that is lower than what the labor unions, assumed to be the minimum wage.” Governor Fayemi said.

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The governor while weighing in on the calls for secession from various quarters of the country said the agitations were borne out of citizens’ frustration.

Recall recently, popular O’odua activist, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Igboho, called for the breakaway of the Southwest region from Nigeria and the establishment of Yoruba nation.

However, the governor blamed the recent call for secession on the stress and laxity in the society. He, however, expressed optimism that the current challenges rocking the country will be over soon.

In his words, “Frankly, when you have stress and laxity in society, you’re bound to find a whole range of responses. Some rational, some irrational, some that speak to the fears of the people, some opportunistic and harebrained. There’s no question that some of the reactions we’ve seen will fall into all of those categories. I have gone on record to say that I have unfailing optimism that in spite of all our challenges, this country will triumph and we’ll survive current challenges. We as leaders must focus on the goal of protecting lives and property, and focus on safety and security as the primary responsibility that we have. The people who are talking about secession frankly, some of them are doing it out of frustration. I don’t think that’s the solution to the Nigerian predicament right now. In matters of economic development, we may need to begin to look at other ways of managing diversity and difference in our country and that devolution of power is an idea whose time has come.”

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Additionally, the Governor weighed in on the National Convention of the All Progressive Congress, stating that the process is currently ongoing and the party will conduct its convention soon.

The governor noted that as soon as the party concludes the ongoing registration and revalidation exercise, congresses would be conducted at the State and local government levels before the National Convention can be scheduled.

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In his words, “As we complete the process that we’re currently undergoing which is the registration and revalidation of our membership, we would move to Congresses- local governments and state congresses, which I believe, would happen probably immediately after Ramadan. And then that would flow into a national convention, which is still very likely to take place, end of June, early July. So we’re not going to have a permanent caretaker committee, the process is on, and I believe the caretaker committee is doing its best to get to adhere to the mandate given to it by the National Executive Committee of the party.”

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