On April 18, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the National Minimum Wage Act, 2019.
But four years later, controversies still trail its implementation.
Many States and Local Government workers are left to groan over the inability of some governors to approve the N30,000 minimum wage.
The issue came to the front burner again as Nigerian workers joined their counterparts across the world earlier in the week to commemorate May Day.
The Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly matters, Senator Ita Enang said then that the development had made it compulsory for all employers of labour in Nigeria to pay their workers the sum of N30,000.
He said, “This makes it compulsory for all employers of labour in Nigeria to pay to their workers the sum of N30,000. And this excludes persons who are employing less than 25 workers, persons who work in a ship which sails out of jurisdiction and other persons who are in other kinds of regulated employment which are accepted by the Act.
“It also gives the workers the right if you are compelled by any circumstance to accept salary that is less than N30,000, to sue your employer to recover the balance and authorises the minister of labour and any person nominated by the minister of labour, or any person designated by the minister of labour in any ministry, department or agency to on your behalf take action in your name against such employer to recover the balance of your wages.
“It also ensures and mandates National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission and the Minister or Labour, to be the chief and principal enforcers of the provisions of this law. And this law applies to all agencies, persons and bodies throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
On when the Act would come into effect, Enang was emphatic that: “the effective date is 18th of April, 2019, as Mr. President has assented to. It has been assented to today and it takes effect today.”
According to Section 2 and 3 (1,2,3) of the National Minimum Wage Act, 2019, “This Act applies throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Every employer shall pay a national minimum wage of not less than N30,000.00 per month to every worker under his establishment, except as otherwise provided under minimum this Act.
“The national minimum wage shall be the minimum total amount of money an employer of labour is required to pay the lowest paid worker or employee monthly in his establishment.
“Any agreement for the payment of wages less than the national minimum wage is void.”
Section 3 (4) of the Act went ahead to state that “The national minimum wage expires after five years, and it shall be reviewed in line with the provisions of this Act.”
The Act equally provided sanctions for noncompliance.
Sections 9 (1 and 2) provides that: “An employer shall pay to the workers a wage not less than the national minimum wage, subject to statutory deductions.
“Any employer who fails to comply with subsection (1), commits an offence and is liable on conviction to pay- a fine not exceeding 5% of the offenders monthly wage; all outstanding arrears of the workers’ wages;
“And additional penalty of not less than the prevailing Central Bank of Nigeria lending rate on the wages owed, for each month of continuing violation, provided that the power to order payment on account of wages under subsection (2) shall not derogate from the right of the worker to recover wages due to him by any other proceeding in a court of competent jurisdiction.”
Despite the clear provisions of the Act, there are still tales of woes in most of the States, especially in the area of consequential adjustment and local government workers.
By May 29, 2023, a number of the governors would exit office, thereby passing the bulk to their successors.
Not long ago, the Federal Government commenced payment of 40 percent increment to civil servants under its payroll ahead of the fuel subsidy removal.
But the fate of state civil servants appears to be hanging in the balance.
There is growing concern that with some of the governors hesitant towards the implementation of the N30, 000 minimum pay, bringing up the idea of an increment this time would be a tall dream.
A legal luminary, Barr. Maximus Ugwuoke said he was worried that four years after the Act was enacted and signed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it was still a subject of negotiation.
Ugwuoke, who said the matter was justiciable, blamed labour leaders for failing to fight for the rights of their members.
He said the N30, 000 minimum wage would expire in next year whereas some state governments were yet to see to its full implementation.
Ugwuoke said: “It is not a matter of choice; the minimum wage is an Act of the National Assembly.
“I expect the affected workers to go to court and enforce their right; once it is a matter of law, it is justiciable; it is not negotiable.
“The issue of domestication does not also arise.
On why labour leaders have not explored a legal option for four years, the legal luminary blamed it on pecuniary gains.
“What I think is that those people are selfish; they are compromised; most of them are comfortable; some of them romance with the governors; so they feel that going to court to enforce some of these things will affect their relationship with the governors.
“You see them looking away when it comes to that; I don’t see any other reason they have not challenged the illegality in court, especially at the Industrial Court.
“The labour leaders are well to do, they control Association money; a common worker who is supposed to be the beneficiary is left helpless.
“However, the law says that even the affected worker has the right to take action directly against the employer at the National Industrial Court or the person can write to the Commission established under this Act,” Ugwuoke stated.
Incoming Governor of Abia State, Alex Otti will inherit unresolved minimum wage issues between the state government and its workers.
According to findings, some civil servants in the State still receive salaries below N30,000 despite claims by the outgoing administration.
Reports from civil servants in ministries and parastatals in the State show that the salary structure of some of the workers is below the basic N30,000.
Some of the workers said they receive between N28,000 and N29,000 but the official summary of their salaries still read N30,100.
This system is popularly known among the workers as “The Abia Formula”.
Civil servants in the State are blaming successive labour leaders for the alleged failure of the State government to implement the N30,000 benchmark.
The situation was compounded by the fractionalisation of the labour leadership in the State.
In the local government areas, it is the same as the workers alleged that they receive ‘deducted’ salaries, not the N30,000.
But the State’s Head of Service, Onyi Wamah said the outgoing administration had been up and doing in payment of minimum wage, despite economic challenges.
The Adamawa State Government is paying N32,000 minimum wage to its workers.
The government has regularly paid the minimum wage since 2019 and does this as a matter of policy on the 23rd of every month, the workers said.
However, the government is owing the workers three months arrears of consequential adjustment, according to the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC.
The State NLC Chairman, Emmanuel Fashe, who disclosed this in his May Day message, also made a case for the implementation of the minimum wage for the local government workers.
Workers, who draw their salaries from their respective local authorities, are yet to be factored into the N30, 000 minimum wage four years after.
Governor Ahmadu Fintiri had pledged on a number of occasions to have the minimum wage implemented at the local government level, but that promise is yet to be kept.
Anambra State is yet to fully implement the N30,000 minimum wage for workers. It is also defaulting in the area of consequential adjustment of salaries, the chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress in the state, Comrade Emeka Nwafor disclosed.
The chairman said the report was also brought to the notice of the Governor during this year’s Workers’ Day.
Nwafor said: “Congress brought it to the kind attention of the Governor that the minimum wage of N30,000 and its consequential adjustment has not been fully implemented in the state.
“Congress suggested and pleaded that Mr. Governor should look into the agreement of January 24, 2020, between the State government and the organised labour over the full implementation of new minimum wage and its consequential adjustment and find a way of implementing it.”
He said there had been pressure from workers over the payment of minimum wage, and that the pressure was becoming increasingly unbearable and the congress may not continue to hold them.
It is, however, not certain if the workers were planning to go on strike.
A worker in the State, Mr Ifeanyi Udeze reveals that: “We are surprised that despite the agreement reached between our union leaders and the Obiano government in 2020, the consequential adjustments have remained very low, despite the poor salaries we are paid.
“The people enjoying this minimum wage law are the junior workers, because their salaries moved up consequentially. One may ask, what can N30,000 even buy in the market?”
The Chairman, Trade Union Congress, (TUC) Akwa Ibom State, Comrade Dominic Abang confirmed 100% implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage for workers in the State.
In an interview, the TUC boss revealed that when the N30, 000 minimum wage was negotiated in January 2020, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel quickly implemented it with arrears of one month.
He disclosed that the consequential adjustment was also made, adding that it was implemented across all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.
“The workers are happy that the Governor does not owe us, but we expect that the adjustment which the federal government has made, (the 40% salary increase), we should not be left out,” he said.
A good number of political appointees in the Governor Ben Ayade administration receive N10,000 per month.
Ayade is believed to have given appointments to more than 9,000 persons as special advisers, senior special advisers, personal assistants and senior special assistants.
He said the essence is to ensure ‘Food on the Table’ and for appointees to feel benefits of his government.
However, the state government has partially implemented the national minimum wage of N30,000 to the civil servants.
“Not all of us receive the national minimum wage. The state government could not pay many of us the minimum wage, especially the consequential adjustment”, a civil servant who pleaded anonymity said.
Several calls and text messages to the Head of Service, Ogbang Akwaji and the commissioner for information in the State, Eric Anderson on the issue were not responded to.
Governor Hope Uzodinma’s administration in Imo State has a poor rating in the minds of the state workers.
They are accusing him of paying lip service to the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage, as well as the consequential adjustment of salaries.
They lamented that their hope of having a new salary package as promised by Uzodinma on Wednesday, January 29, 2020, while on a working visit to the State Secretariat, seems to have been dashed.
The chairperson, caretaker committee of NLC, George Ofoegbu said the non-payment of the national minimum wage of N30,000 and numerous labour-related concerns in the state will not go unnoticed by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC.
He lamented that Imo State is still one of the few states where the N30,000 minimum wage, as well as the consequential adjustment of salaries, hasn’t been put into effect four years after it was signed in 2019.
The Chairman of the State Public Service Negotiating Council, Comrade Basil Iwu had in his address at the Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu Square, the venue of the 2023 Imo Workers’ Day celebration, pleaded with the Governor to direct full implementation of the consequential adjustment arising from the nationally approved N30,000 minimum wage.
A civil servant, who identified his name as Mr Uba, expressed regret that the workers waited in vain for Gov Uzodinma’s pronouncement on the N30,000 minimum wage implementation during the commemoration of the 2023 May Day celebration.
He said while workers in some other states are demanding a pay rise, Uzodinma was yet to even implement the N30,000 minimum pay.
In his response to the development, Oguwike Nwachuku, the Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to the Governor of Imo State said the government was paying minimum wage.
“Imo workers are receiving N30,000 minimum wage, while the consequential adjustment of salaries is receiving the required attention from the government,” he said.
The Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, who has less than twenty four days to exit office, is yet to fully implement minimum wage structure for workers in the state.
Umahi had in 2014 during campaigns, vowed to pay minimum wage to workers, double of what his predecessor, Elechi, was paying them.
It was gathered that such a promise of a double pay package to workers, made civil servants in the state to abandon Elechi’s preferred candidate, Edward Nkwagu, and vote massively for Umahi in 2015.
However, upon assuming office in 2015, Umahi continued with Elechi’s minimum wage structure.
Workers also said contrary to the state government’s claims, the N30, 000 minimum wage was haphazardly implemented in the State.
Some civil servants in the state, who spoke to th press alleged that there was no implementation of minimum wage by the governor, rather what was done was a mere adjustment in salaries of civil servants in the state.
A teacher, who is a level 8 worker in one of the schools in Ebonyi said, “the governor merely added one thousand Naira (N1000) to my salary; no civil servant in the state is happy with such development.”
Be that as it may, the Governor said he is not owing workers.
“In our covenant with God for good governance in Ebonyi State, we believe that we have done our best for our workers. we are not owing our workers’ salaries,” he said.
Enugu State workers are all praise for Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi over the full implementation of the minimum wage.
The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), who spoke during the event marking this year’s Workers’ Day at the popular Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, said the Governor also implemented the consequential adjustments.
The State Chairman of NLC, Comrade Barr. Fabian Nwigbo and his TUC counterpart, Comrade Benneth Asogwa commended Governor Ugwuanyi for the payment of N30,000 new minimum wage with its consequential adjustment.
They disclosed that the seamless implementation of the N30,000 new minimum wage with its consequential adjustment had positively distorted the long history of industrial dispute, intimidation and neglect that heralded the previous minimum wage implementation in the state.
Until Ugwuanyi came on board, Enugu was also said to be operating without a known workers’ salary structure. However, the labour leaders said such a situation was now a thing of the past.
The delay in the payment of minimum wage to primary school teachers, which hitherto caused friction between the Teachers’ Association and the government, had also been resolved, the workers said.
Jigawa state government is among the first states to implement the N30,000 minimum wage, as well as the consequential increment.
Governor Muhammad Badaru Abubakar approved the implementation of the salary increment on 4th December, 2019, after he received a report from the ”Joint Negotiation Committee for the implementation of the new Wage” chaired by the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Umar Namadi.
There were initial fears that some local government areas would find the implementation difficult, but the state government came to their aid.
Chairman, Joint negotiation committee, Hassan Auwalu said workers from level 01 to 06 receive N30,000 minimum wage, while level 07 and above receive a consequential increment of between 12 and 23 per cent.
The Chairman Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Jigawa State, Comrade Sanusi Alhassan Maigatari had during the 2023 May Day celebration, commended the Governor for making the state a reference point in terms of implementation of the new minimum wage and other entitlements.
The Kwara State Government has fully implemented the new N30,000 minimum wage.
The Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Saeed Olayinka confirmed this in an interview with DAILY POST in Ilorin.
Saeed, however, explained that “the only grey area is the consequential adjustments for retirees and pensioners, which the state government is currently looking into for actualisation.”
“All other sectors of the workforce in the state, including parastatals, are on the same page on the full implementation of the new minimum wage and the consequential adjustments,” he added.
Saeed said the consequential adjustments for grade levels 07 and above had been domesticated in the state, “but the state government needs to adjust to the Federal government’s template in terms of percentage.
“In Kwara State, it is 70% instead of the 100% on the consequential adjustments,” the NLC chairman stated.
Kaduna State Government, in September 2019, implemented the new national minimum wage for civil servants in the state.
The State Executive Council had in its meeting approved that payment of the new national minimum wage and consequential adjustments to civil servants will begin from 1st September 2019.
Muyiwa Adekeye, Special Adviser on Media & Communication to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, in a statement, explained that the Executive Council meeting, chaired by Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, the Deputy Governor, noted the commitment of Governor Nasir El-Rufai to strengthen the public service and its capacity to deliver quality and responsive public service.
Civil servants confirmed that they have been receiving the appropriate salary scale since September 2019.
Mr Adamu Bature, a senior civil servant, confirmed that since September 2019, Governor Nasir El-Rufai had kept to his word by implementing the new minimum wage to civil servants in the state.
According to him, “One must be sincere to give credit to Governor El-Rufai for keeping to his word. Since 2019, we have been enjoying the new pay.”
This was also re-echoed by another civil servant, Haminatu Suleiman, who explained that civil servants under the payroll of the state government had been enjoying the implementation of the national minimum wage.
Kogi State Government has partially implemented the N30,000 minimum wage and consequential adjustment for workers in the State.
Recalled that Governor Yahaya Bello had in February 2022 approved the implementation of the new minimum wage for workers in Kogi State.
Findings revealed that the State Government fully implemented the national minimum wage structure of N30,000 for grade level 1-6 workers.
For the consequential adjustment which is for level 7 and above, it was not fully implemented.
A labour leader, who preferred anonymity, said this remained a big problem to workers in Kogi State in view of the current economic hardship.
“The state of the economy when the percentage of the consequential adjustment was agreed upon is no longer the same; the trend of inflation is very worrisome.
“The value of naira then and now is incomparable. It is imperative for the government to consider the inflation trend in Nigeria, Kogi State inclusive.
“I might not be able to quote the figures correctly, but what we are getting here in Kogi State is not up to two percent. We are pleading that the government should please implement the consequential adjustment so that we will not die.
“The Federal Government has given them a 40 percent increase because they considered that what we call N30,000 minimum wage and consequential adjustment is not even enough.
“We are not even demanding 40 percent now. The old one that is supposed to be given to us, please let them implement it,” he stated.
All efforts to confirm these findings from the Kogi State Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC) Comrade Gabriel Amari and officials of the Kogi State Government proved abortive as of the time of filing this report.
They failed to answer calls or respond to text messages sent to their phone lines.
Niger is among the states in the country that have commenced the implementation of the national minimum wage package for its civil servants.
It started under the current administration of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello.
Initially Bello had lamented the huge wage bill of the state which he said had remained static since 2015, regardless of the number of workers that either died or retired over the years.
He, however, succumbed to pressures mounted by the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, alongside other trade unions. The new salary structure started in 2020.
When contacted, the State Head of Service, Hajiya Salimatu Abubakar said that the national minimum wage had been operational for about three years in the state.
She added: “the only issue we dragged was the consequential adjustment of salaries; the state government gave a certain amount of money shared across board for all cadres in the state.”
The Ogun State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) said workers in the State have been enjoying the minimum wage since 2020, rating it as one of the best.
Ogun NLC Chairman, Comrade Hammed Ademola said Governor Dapo Abiodun had not failed the state workers since he approved the N30,000 minimum wage years ago.
Speaking in an interview, Ademola said, “the governor is paying and does not owe salaries.”
However, Adeola called on Gov Abiodun to consider a Memorandum of Action he signed with the workers, stating that the MoA needs to be evaluated to see the level of implementation.
On the newly approved 40% pay rise for Federal Civil Servants, Ademola disclosed that talks are ongoing with the State government.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the TUC in Ogun, Comrade Akeem Lasisi said the new minimum wage was fully implemented in the State.
“The minimum wage is implemented fully in Ogun State. Ours is the best in the South-West, if not in Nigeria,” Lasisi said.
While also calling for a pay rise, the TUC Chairman charged Abiodun to put Labour welfare at the front burner of his activities during his second term.
Recalled that workers in Ogun went on strike in September 2020 when the Governor’s promise to begin paying the minimum wage in January 2020 was not fulfilled.
However, in October 2020, the State Government commenced the payment of N30,500 as new minimum wage for Ogun workers.
Ondo State government in 2020 joined the league of states that have implemented the payment of minimum wage.
The payment of the minimum wage to civil servants in the state was effected after weeks of negotiations with the organised labour.
According to the state government, the interest and welfare of the workers is sacrosanct, hence the resolve to key into the wage increase as signed by the President.
Meanwhile, during the celebration of Workers’ Day a few days ago in the state, chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Victor Amoko stated that the consequential adjustment for pensioners had also been approved by the state government.
“The long awaited consequential pension adjustment was graciously approved for Ondo State pensioners without much agitation.”
Osun became one of the first five states to implement the National Minimum Wage Act of 2019.
It took effect on November 1, 2020 under the administration of Adegboyega Oyetola.
The implementation of the National Minimum Wage Act went side by side with the lifting of the ban on annual salary increment and embargo on promotions and conversions in the state’s civil service.
This came when the workers were still recovering from the half salary regime imposed on them by the Rauf Aregbesola administration as a means of cutting down government expenditures.
The Aregbesola administration also embargoed recruitment and staff promotion.
This did not go down well with the workers who embarked on constant industrial actions to demand their entitlements.
However, the workers also clashed with the Oyetola administration over its alleged failure to monetise promotions despite lifting the embargo on promotions and salary increment.
Officers of Permanent Secretary status were designated as Coordinating Directors to avoid paying the salaries and entitlements of such an office holder.
The current administration of Ademola Adeleke in March, 2023 commenced the payment of backlog of salaries arising from the half salary regime of Rauf Aregbesola and also promised to effect the pay rise of workers occasioned by their promotions.
The implementation of the new minimum wage started in January 2020.
Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Oyo State chapter, Comrade Kayode Martins disclosed that the state is paying N30,050.00 minimum wage.
Martins said, “The minimum wage is N30,050.00. They set up a committee in July 2019 and they started the implementation in January 2020. It is across board”.
Rivers State workers are yet to enjoy the full implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage.
The workers and the state Government led by Governor Nyesom Wike are singing discordant tunes over its level of implementation.
A civil servant said that: “They added something to the salary in the name of minimum wage, but it’s not up to the minimum wage.”
The immediate past chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress in Rivers State, Comrade Beatrice Itubo had on several occasions called out the state Governor for refusing to implement the minimum wage.
Chairman of Civil Service Union in the state, Chukwuka Osummah in an interview said they were no longer making moves for the implementation until a new administration comes in.
“He’s already leaving office. Before this time, we have been presenting issues to him, even when the former chairperson of the NLC was in charge.
“Issues were discussed but nothing seems to be working.
“As a union, we don’t intend to take any action until the new administration comes in, because we know that the incoming Governor is a civil servant, he knows our problem”, he said.
Taraba State government is yet to implement the minimum wage for its workers.
The outgoing Governor, Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku was accused of failing to implement the national minimum wage, as well as other benefits for the workers.
The state chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, Peter Jediel is optimistic that the incoming administration will not hesitate in implementing it.
“We have been imploring the state government to hasten the implementation of the new minimum wage for workers in the state to boost their morale and enhance maximum productivity in the civil service,” he said.
He added that the government was also defaulting in the outstanding six months salaries of local government staff and five months for primary school teachers, as well as the non-payment of yearly increment which was stopped three years ago.
The backlog of gratuities for retirees in the state from the year 2015 and the inability of the government to capture over 1000 retirees into the monthly pension, he said, had also continued to give Taraba workers sleepless nights.
Endless controversy has trailed the non-implementation of the minimum wage in Zamfara State.
Despite a series of negotiations between the organised labour and the State government, the full implementation of the N30, 000 minimum wage has remained a mirage in the State.
Workers had on several occasions threatened to down tools, but they always backed down when the government came up with fresh promises.
This has brought open confrontation between the State civil servants and the Labour leaders, as the workers believe that their leaders were compromised.
After much pressure, the government and the Labour leaders signed an agreement last year that the N30,000 minimum wage would be implemented at the end of November, 2022.
However, only a percentage of the workers are said to be enjoying the new wage.
During the Workers’ Day celebration, a group of aggrieved civil servants staged a protest, demanding immediate dissolution of the leadership of the State wing of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC.
Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle, who spoke at the event through the State’s Head of Service, Alhaji Kabiru Mohammed Gayari assured that the outstanding arrears of workers’ salaries and allowances would be paid before he leaves office on 29th May, 2023.
The State government explained that the implementation of the N30,000 had already started, but that it had to stop due to some negative factors that affected the smooth process. He did not provide further details.
In an interview with the State chairman of NLC, Comrade Sani Haliru, he said it was very unfortunate that the State government didn’t keep to its promises, assuring that the Labour leaders will continue to push for beneficial results.