In the coming days, we expect governors to begin dissociating themselves from fresh comments made by the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), who said once again on Thursday that governors will eventually reduce the federal minimum wage of N18,000 or sack workers. The governors will deny Yari, not because they don’t agree with him, but because the political toll which a move like that will take is something many governors may be unprepared for.
Yari said on Thursday after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, that irrespective of public condemnations of the plan, it is not economically feasible to retain the same workforce and pay same amount of money due to the drop in revenue.
The last time Yari declared that the minimum wage was going to be slashed, it caused a storm as labour threatened to go on strike if the governors attempt to pull it off. Several governors quickly came out to distance themselves from Yari’s statement. Ayo Fayose of Ekiti, Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun, Nyesom Wike of Rivers and Adams Oshiomhole of Edo are just four of the Governors who have said they would continue paying the minimum wage.
An insistent Gov. Yari however said on Thursday that he had the backing of governors to say what he was saying. He said the governor’s forum is not the “enemy of labour in any way” but the states cannot afford to pay the same amount which was agreed on when oil sold for $118 per barrel at a time when oil is selling for $41 per barrel.
“We have to sit down with the labour and see how we can review; either continue or downsizing, or see what we are going to do,” he said.
Explaining the dire situation of things, Yari said, “And there are other issues, not even the salary, their pension is over a billion. So, how can we continue borrowing and servicing the service aspect of our expenditure, or overhead. How can we do that?
“We are telling the public that we are planning to sit down with the president and his team and the state governors as a team and the experts to come out with the way forward and how we are going to handle the poor state of the economy in the country.
“But what we have on ground now will not be realistic if it continues the way it is without having other sources from the economy and still relying on oil that is being sold for $118 dollar per barrel and now down to $41 and think that we can continue behaving or misbehaving the way we are doing, if there is anything like that,” he said.