Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Friday suggested that states be allowed to fix their separate minimum wages in line with their financial capacity to pay.
He said this during a public hearing on the new national minimum wage for Nigerian workers in the South-South geopolitical zone in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
His words: “The single national minimum wage system is yet, another lie that betrays the distortions in our Federation, and the structured dislocation of the states in the power equation between the Federal Government and the federating states.
“It is our view that the country and its workers would be better off if states are allowed to fix and pay their own minimum wages indexed to the prevailing cost of living and ability to pay”
He said some states may able to go beyond the minimum threshold to pay a living wage which is what the workers truly need.
According to him, the previous review exercise failed to give maximum weight to the existing disparity in economic potential and capabilities among the 36 states of the federation.
Wike observed that it has been difficult for most of the state governments to implement the existing N18,000 minimum wage for workers as majority of them are financially handicapped and cannot pary salaries without bailouts from the Federal Government.
He, however, opined that enhanced wages can only be possible when the Federal Government improves the economy of the country.
“Here in Rivers State, we value our workers; we invest in their welfare in different ways, and we want them to earn living wages that can keep them and their families as comfortable as possible.
“The Rivers State government, therefore, supports the ongoing consultations by the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage for arriving at a new national minimum wage floor for the country,” Wike added.
In his remarks at the event, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, disclosed that the exercise has taken place across the six geopolitical zones.
He said the aim was to ascertain the needs of Nigerian workers and employers in a bid to reach an acceptable and implementable wage.
“It is hoped that at the end of the exercise, we will be able to have women and men who will be engaged in productive work in equable conditions of freedom to associate and bargain collectively with equality and human dignity,” he said.
Ngige, who is also the chairman of the tripartite committee, was optimistic that the exercise would enable the country to adopt a national minimum wage to attain a social protection standard for Nigerians.