Some governors have indicated plans to reduce the N18,000 minimum wage or downsize the civil service in their state. This plan was made known to newsmen by the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari after a meeting with President Buhari at the State house Abuja yesterday December 3rd.
Yari said the declining oil price which has affected the revenue generation of the country has in turn reduced the Federal allocations state governors get to address issues such as Salaries in their state.
The NGF Chairman said some state governors that have come out to say they will not be reducing the minimum wages in their state can do so because of the high revenue they generate internally. He said the poor state of infrastructure such as power has affected most states like Zamfara to increase their Internally Generated Revenues.
“Let me make it very clear to Nigerians, Governors’ Forum is not an enemy of labour in any way. Rather, we have been working together. I know that not only Gov. Wike but also my friend in the comradeship, Adams Oshiomhole, kicked against the decision. Although in the decision, we never said we are going to stop the payment of N18,000 minimum wage, but we are looking at the situation in the country and in the global economy. What we said was that when the National Assembly enacted the law of paying N18,000 minimum wage, then oil price was about $118 per barrel and today oil price is $41 per barrel. So, if it continues like that, definitely, we will find it difficult to continue. We have to sit down with the labour and see how we can review, either continue or downsizing or what we are going to do. We want to find a solution because we have to be realistic that we have so many things to touch. There is infrastructure deficit; there is a need for security; there are other things like social lives of our people and nation as a state. On the receipt from federation account, some states received N400m, N500m. Some others received N55m; two digits. And there are other issues, not even the salary, pension is over a billion. So, how can we continue borrowing and servicing the service aspect of our expenditure or overhead? How can we do that?. We are telling the public that we are planning to sit down with the President and his team and the state governors as a team and the experts to come out with the way forward and how we are going to handle the poor state of the economy in the country. But what we have on the ground now will not be realistic if it continues the way it is without having other sources from the economy and still relying on oil that was sold for $118 dollar per barrel and now down to $41, and think that we can continue behaving or misbehaving the way we are doing, if there is anything like that. Therefore, we are saying that we should tighten our belts. Something definitely, we should sit down and come out of it to find a way we are going to do it realistically or otherwise. If you don’t have infrastructure in place; you don’t have the energy to fire our industries, you have the issue of textiles, the issue of milling and so on and so forth. Therefore, how can we get revenue? Can we go door to door and start knocking for people to pay their own due when they are looking for their own and they hardly get at least two square meals daily? Can you knock on his door and ask him to pay government for development? So we know that it is trouble for us! We need to close ranks, both the federal and the state governments to see if we can sit down and settle this problem of the economy.”