State governments can not pay N30,000 as minimum wage, Zamfara State Governor and Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, Alhaji Abdulazeez Yari, said on Wednesday.
He said because of the prevailing circumstance, the governors have decided to set up a committee to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari over the matter.
He said the committee will also discuss with the President on possible new revenue sharing formula.
Members of the committee to see President Buhari are governors of Lagos, Akinwumi Ambode, Kebbi – Atiku Bagudu, Plateau – Simon Lalong, Bauchi – Mohammed Abubakar, Akwa Ibom – Udom Emmanuel, Ebonyi – Dave Umahi, Enugu – Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and Kaduna – Nasir El-Rufai.
Yari told newsmen that it is impracticable to implement the N30,000 minimum wage without downsizing the workforce all over the country.
He added that the only alternative to paying the N30,000 minimum wage was for the federal government to accede to the review of the national revenue allocation formula.
Yari said, “We have seen what has been presented to the president by the committee, as a member of the committee Kebbi Governor said the comittee did not take our submission of N22,500 because it came late. I am surprised how you can do this without the input of the states, because the states are the key stakeholders in this business. So a situation whereby our report is not taken or considered by the tripartite committee to present to the president then I don’t know how the committee want us to work.
“But we still say we want to pay but the issue is the ability to pay. If we say no, it is not about the ability to pay, just pay, I don’t know how this formulae will come and I don’t know how we can get solution to the issue. The N18,000 today, when the president assume office 27 states were not able to pay, not that they choose not to pay. So now that you say N30,000, how many of them can pay? We will be bankrupt. So as Nigerians we should look at the issue seriously. While other people are saying that governors are flying private jet and living in affluence, that one is not luxury but compulsory.
“The issue of government overhead cost if you put it together with personnel cost, it cannot solve this problem. Like Lagos that is paying about N7 billion as salaries if you say it should pay N30,000, now it wiĺl be N13 billion. From our calculation, it is only Lagos State that will be able to pay N30,000. As Nigerians, this is our country, there is no other country we have and we should be fair to this country.”
Asked the way forward, Yari said, “As for the way forward, we will continue to talk with Labour, let them see reasons why governors have difficulties. Some of us have Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). For instance, the money Lagos state is using to pay is not coming from Abuja. They have a way of getting their money from the IGR and that is why they can afford to pay. They get money through VAT. Apart from Lagos, even Rivers cannot afford to pay. So we have been crying out about this since 2011 but no one will listen. One critical example is that some state ration their salaries while some other put everything they earn on the table and ask labour to come and see and they ask them to suggest how much should go for capital and personnel cost. Some say 70 percent for personnel cost and 30 percent for capital projects and yet the states cannot pay and they put the remaining as outstanding.
“If you are talking about oil, The price is not what it use to be, from last year to date, it is $20 less from $75 to $55. So where is the money to pay?
“We should not exploit this matter further we are leaders today, tomorrow others will be there. So let us look at this matter seriously to see how we can do it properly. It is our primary responsibility to see that everybody is happy.”
When reminded that part of Labour grouse was that Governors have refused to submit audited account, the NGF chairman said, “we have given the committee audited account of the states to guide them. But if they put the audited account for the past 10-14 years, can you get something out of it? We are going to use the report of the audited committee to make further presentation.
“It is the same labour that is pushing for the N30,000 that will still turn around to say that the governors did not do any infrastructure and how are we going to achieve that by paying only salaries?”
President Buhari last week Tuesday received the report of the Tripartite Committee on the Review of National Minimum Wage at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The report was submitted by the committee’s chairman, Ama Pepple, former Head of Service of the Federation and former Minister of Housing
The committee which recommended N30,000 as the new national minimum wage also submitted a draft bill that will be sent to the National Assembly.
Organized Labour has given December date as deadline for all processes leading to the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage else they will embark on another round of strike.
They insist they will not to accept anything less than the N30,000 recommended by the Tripartite Committee to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Yari said the issue of tax for health services also came up and governors’ cooperation is being sought. He also said governors also heard a presentation on human capital development.