By Ariwodola Idowu
Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, on Saturday said that the Federal Government needed to address the current revenue allocation formula, to enable state governments pay the new minimum wage being requested by workers.
Fayemi spoke when he received the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Ayuba Wabba, who paid him a courtesy visit in his office, in Ado-Ekiti.
He said that Ekiti, which received one of the lowest allocations in the country, would require extra N2bn monthly to be able to pay.
The governor, who explained that the N30,000 minimum wage was not a comfortable living wage for workers, said he was convinced that governors would pay if the Federal Government creates the enabling environment for them to do so.
He, however suggested a collective approach by labour leadership, the government and the general public.
Fayemi said the issue of affordability was key in paying the proposed minimum wage. The governor said Ekiti had always been paying above the national minimum wage as the state
was paying N19, 350 as against the N18,000 minimum.
He, however, said that for Ekiti State to pay the new N30,000 minimum wage, it would need an additional N2 billion in addition to the current wage bill of N2.6 billion, totalling N4.6bn.
This, he said was the case in many other states, disclosing that Ekiti earns averagely N3bn federal allocation monthly.
“I am not holding brief for the governors because I am the youngest among them, having only come to office barely a month ago. So, I cannot speak on what has transpired in your negotiation in the course of this tripartite committee,” he said
Fayemi said if he were, however, to put hinself in the shoes of his colleagues, giving the fact on ground in Ekiti, he believed it was only a question of affordability, ability to pay.
“As long as we have the revenue allocation formula that we have in the country, even in states where you have willing partners and comrades that are not going to contend the N30,000 figure, if nothing is done about current revenue allocation, this will be tough on states.
“In fact, this N30,000 is not even enough, Mr President, I don’t know anyone who can really live comfortably on N30,000, let alone the N18,000 we are currently paying. I think we need a collective approach to this beyond the game of numbers. The workers are very critical components to the productive base of our country, because it is the human capital and it has to be motivated human capital. It has to be an enthusiastic human capital that can deliver the goods to the populace,” Fayemi said.
The NLC President, who met with the governor together with some national and Ekiti State labour union leaders, had solicited the cooperation of all governors in the payment of the N30,000 minimum wage.
He said that all states should be able to afford it.
Wabba also lauded Fayemi for his administration’s demonstrated love for the workers’ welfare.
He commended him on the recent release of N200m for teachers’ car and housing loans as well as the abolishing of development levies in public primary and secondary schools in the state, among others.
“We know your pedigree and I am not surprised about this. We know you are a friend of workers. In 2012, you were the first to pay the N18,000 minimum wage in the South West and second in Nigeria. You even paid N19,300,” Wabba said.
The NLC boss stressed the need for state governments to ensure transparency and accountability, to ensure that what is due to workers are given to them.
He urged the state governments to block all forms of leakages that may bar them from paying workers what is due to them.
Wabba expressed optimism that government would take all necessary steps at ensuring that the new minimum wage is paid.