Monday, April 19, 2021

House divided as bill to decentralise minimum wage reaches second reading

A Lawmaker posited that misplaced priorities was the reason some state governments were unable to pay the minimum wage.

• February 23, 2021
House of Reps
House of Representatives, [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of Reps NGR]

The House of Representatives is seeking to decentralise the payment of minimum wage to workers in the country. This would mean each tier of government would pay its employees according to its financial capacity.

At a plenary session of the House held on Tuesday, Rep. Garba Datti from Kaduna state sponsored a bill seeking to transfer the minimum wage from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List.

The long title of the bill is “A Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), to amongst others, Transfer the Subject Matter of Minimum Wage Prescription from the Exclusive Legislative List set out under Part I of the Second Schedule to the Concurrent Legislative List set out under Part II of the Second Schedule; and for Related Matters.”

The argument presented by Mr. Datti is that wage payment should be decentralised to allow each state to pay according to its financial capacity,  noting that states like Rivers State and Zamfara state could not pay the same amount for minimum wage as their resource capacities differ. 

Arguing against the move was the Chairman of the House Committee on Tertiary Education, Rep. Aminu Suleiman, who posited that misplaced priorities was the reason some state governments were unable to pay the minimum wage.  

The house was divided over the bill as arguments ensued, however, the bill has been passed for its second reading. 

In April 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the new minimum wage bill into law, thus increasing the minimum wage by 62.2 percent, from N18,500 to N30,000. 

However, most states have yet to implement the new wage as they cannot afford it. Last week, The Nigeria Labour Congress directed workers in 18 states where the national minimum wage of N30,000 had yet to be paid to proceed on strike.

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