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Governors have no right to refuse payment of Minimum wage agreed – Comr. Fidelis Edeh
Comr. Fidelis Edeh
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Governors have no right to refuse payment of Minimum wage agreed – Comr. Fidelis Edeh

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Ikenna Igwe, Enugu

Following the continued negotiation by the tripartite committee on an acceptable minimum wage and the declaration by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum that the N60,000 wage is unsustainable, citing concerns over budgetary strains, a public affairs analyst and Executive Director, Service Accord Initiative, Comrade Fidelis Edeh has stated that the governors lack the legal standing to refuse to pay any amount agreed to as the minimum wage. 

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Edeh, who spoke to News Central on the heels of NLC accusing governors of bad faith in minimum wage negotiations, wondered why governance should be left to the discretionary prompting of those who have been elected to govern. 

He noted that one of the biggest challenges facing Nigeria was the fact that the rule of law does not thrive in public service and generally in Nigeria, reiterating that no governor according to the rule of law had any right to reject a legally determined minimum wage.

“We are yet to understand what minimum wage means in terms of concept and legality, that what we have been having over the years is wage review not minimum wage, that once a certain national minimum wage has been determined and enacted into an Act, not even the federal government, a governor or the private sector can reject it.

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“The first Minimum Wage Act was in 1981, but the challenge we have is that overtime, because of insensitivity, the government has always allowed the adhoc determination. 

“It is not minimum wage that is the issue now. This is a wage review. If the government wants to set the minimum wage, once it is determined, governors cannot begin to speak to it”, he said. 

Pacesetter reports that when asked what his thoughts were on the fact that a certain governor had increased his state’s minimum wage to N70,000 and promised to further increase it pending the ongoing negotiations, while some state governors are yet to pay the current minimum wage of N30,000, the former labour leader argued that allowing arbitrariness to determine how wages should be determined was inimical. 

“If a governor decides to pay N70,000, we say it is okay but assuming one decides to pay N20,000, will we say it is okay? 

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“What I am saying is that a minimum wage ought to be legally determined and the question should even be asked now – what is the role of the National Wages Commission? It is a shame that in Nigeria, people are still talking about N60,000 minimum wage. What can it purchase today?”, he asked. 

Edeh adviced that certain indices like inflation, purchasing power of the citizen and cost of living should guide the minimum wage negotiations.


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