14th June, 2011
Governor Peter Obi of Anambra state and chairman of the South East Governors Forum has given conditions that would pave way for states in the geo political zone to pay workers the minimum wage considering the lean resources that accrue to the states.
He said the ability of states in the zone to pay the N18, 000 minimum wage would depend on federal governmentâ€™s unconditional review of the revenue allocation formula to enable the states carry on with their responsibilities to the people.
Governor Obi disclosed this while answering questions from newsmen at the Benin Airport in the Edo state capital, Southsouth Nigeria.
Obi explained that the uncalculated and forceful payment of the new wage bill would no doubt bring the states to their knees and in the process the development agenda and provision of basic amenities to the people at the grassroots would definitely be a forlorn dream.
â€œWithout the review it will be difficult for states to pay and be able to continue with any work, unless they are just going to shut down the states and say pay wages and then donâ€™t do anything,â€ he said.
He also denied the rumnour making rounds that the state chief executives from the geopolitical zone were up in arms with the people by not paying the minimum wage.
It has been widely reported that workers’ affiliate unions, particularly the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and most of the state governors are out for a showdown over the payment of the contentious new wage as prescribed by the law.
The governors are of the view that resources available to their states would not be able to cater for extra expenditure.
Other governors apart from those in the eastern part of the Nigeria have argued that from available records, states from the southeast geopolitical zone have the least number of civil servants in their ministries.
Governor Obi added further that the South-east Governors Forum at the end of their meeting held last week resolved that they would comply with the law prescribing the new minimum wage but stressed the need for the an urgent review of the existing revenue sharing formula by the states and the federal government.
He said the review of the revenue sharing formula would help the various states to sustain the smooth payment of the new wage bill.
â€œWe said we are committed to the minimum wage as prescribed by law. You cannot talk about the law and talk about what is feasible and what is not feasible. The minimum wage as prescribed by the law is that we must fulfill it but we are also pleading with the federal government to review the revenue sharing formula so as to help us to sustain that.â€
He declared: â€œWe are going to obey the law of Nigeria but we are saying that we want help to sustain it.â€
He maintained that the federal government should engage the 36 state governors in constructive dialogue with a view to arriving at an agreed compromise.
â€œI believe that the amendment should be collective as we are all Nigerians, we are urging for a review of it and that has to be done with dialogue and with civility so that everybody can feel it, because what we are agitating for is open to everybody to see, and that is, most states cannot pay.â€
By Yomi Obaditan/Benin