Nigerian Government Defends N62,000 Minimum Wage Offer, Cites National Interest

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Nigeria’s federal government has maintained that the N62,000 monthly minimum wage offer recommended by the tripartite committee set up by President Tinubu was made after taking into consideration the national interest and current economic indices.

Minister of National Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Atiku Bagudu, and Chairman of the 37-man Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage, Alhaji Bukar Aji, made the remarks in separate chats with THISDAY in Abuja.

However, the committee’s recommendation to the president at its meeting on Friday night was rejected by organised labour, which insisted on N250,000 as an acceptable national minimum wage.

In an interview, Bagudu stated that members of the committee took cognisance of the prevailing economic situation, information, data, national interest, developments in the polity, macro economy and the ongoing economic reforms by the administration before arriving at the figure.

He said, “This is what we have done; I was a member of the 2018 tripartite committee, then as a governor representing the state governors. And in that committee as well, views were divided, like in the Organised Private Sector (OPS) and the organised labour as we had then. And a report was sent to Mr President, just like we did now.

“So, I am glad that democratic rights have been exercised. Mr President has been encouraged and what has happened is to show that this is a process where you bring your best argument. The labour has participated and they have presented different views and different arguments, which we are going to send to Mr President.”

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Bagudu’s position was echoed by Aji, who is incidentally a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HoSF).

Aji said the committee’s recommendation to Tinubu, which would be sent to the National Assembly for passage as National Minimum Wage Act, came as a “result of deeper understanding and deeper study of all the economic indices”.

He added that caution was taken in order not to recommend a figure that would further throw the country into confusion.

According to Aji, “We studied all the economic indices, the current inflation situation, the state of the economy, affordability, ability, capability and sustainability. Caution had been displayed all through so that a figure that will further throw the country into confusion is not allowed.

“This is because if any party goes into an agreement of any figure that it knows from its sources that it can’t afford, then it is going to create another problem. But I thank God that all wisdom came together and the recommendation to Mr President is going along that direction.”

He described the negotiation on national minimum wage at the tripartite level with organised labour and the organised private sector in the last four months as a serious business.

Aji likened the recommendations made to the president to the one made in 2018, when organised labour proposed N30,000 as the national minimum wage, while the government side recommended N24,000.

He added that the tripartite committee had no power to approve but only to recommend to the president.

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