The Nigerian federal government has ordered that the 18,000 naira (about US$ 120) minimum wage be paid from 23 March, 2011, when the law was signed by President Goodluck Jonathan.
This means that all the beneficiaries, under the Federal Government, are to be paid in arrears.
It also puts pressure on States and Local Governments to follow suit as most of them have complained of limited funds to comply with the new law.
The Chairman of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC), Richard Egbule, said in Abuja Monday at a meeting between the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress that the money meant for the implementation of the national minimum wage in addition to the increase in salaries had been set aside.
“The issue of implementation is, if it is a law, will be with effect from the day the law started; it is not an issue in doubt. And so, all preparation for the payment, all our computation given to the budget office is with respect to the 23 March, 2011. I believe that the governors whether they want to pay or not, now or in the future cannot pay with effect from any other time other than 23 March, 2011, would mean you are now contravening the law.”
While defending the need for the three tiers of government to implement the law, Wogu declared that sentiments must be set aside, saying government at all levels were part of the negotiation process.
“There are no sentiments about it; Federal Government is committed to the implementation of its law not just because the Federal government believes so much in the mantra of rule of law but because the Federal Government is committed to the welfare of the Nigerian workers,” he said.
He confirmed that the Federal Government had indeed received the 14-day ultimatum issued by both the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress.
He assured that necessary steps would be taken to ensure payment before the ultimatum expired.
He explained that if States such as Ebonyi and Ekiti, which are at the bottom of federal revenue allocation formula, can afford to pay the new wage, he then wondered why States that are more buoyant are claiming inability to pay.
Wogu added that issues that are peculiar to the Federal Government such as deregulation and removal of subsidy are solely the responsibilities of Federal Government to sort out and should not be cited as pre-condition for the payment of the new wage bill.
“I will also urge other tiers of government to leave the law the way it is and implement the law. I want to thank the governors who have come out and say they will implement the law.
We are more concerned with what is coming from the states but the Federal Government will intervene and continues to intervene with the cooperation of organized Labour