Reps to FG: ‘Implement living wage for Nigerian workers’

The House of Representatives again urged the Bola Tinubu-led administration to announce a living wage for Nigerian workers. The House argued that doing so would address the persistent issue of strikes by organized labor.

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The resolution followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance, moved by Hon. Isa Ali, the member representing Balanga/Biliri Federal Constituency in Gombe State. Ali noted that the Federal Government and labor unions have been in negotiations over an upward review of the minimum wage, but the meetings have so far failed to yield positive outcomes.

The Peoples Democratic Party lawmaker called for a review of the National Minimum Wage Act of 2019, arguing that the prevailing circumstances have changed since the Act was enacted a few years ago. He pointed out that the current minimum wage of N30,000 has expired after five years, as per the provisions of the Act.

The House Minority Leader, Kinglsey Chinda, urged the National Assembly to swiftly pass a new Wage Act, similar to the speed with which the National Anthem Bill was recently passed. Chinda argued that the government has failed to fulfill its constitutional obligation to provide security and welfare for the people, and that workers should be paid a living wage, not just a minimum wage.

Other lawmakers, such as Ali Madaki from Dala Federal Constituency in Kano State, and George Ozodinobi, the Deputy Minority Whip, also advocated for a living wage, with Ozodinobi suggesting a benchmark of N75,000 per month, which he said is the current price of a bag of rice in Nigeria.

Following the adoption of the motion, the House urged the Federal Government to shift the focus of negotiations with labor unions from fixing a new minimum wage to establishing a realistic living wage for Nigerians. The House also demanded a downward review of electricity tariffs to reduce the suffering of Nigerians.

However, a member of the APC representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency in Lagos State, Babajimi Benson, called for restraint, noting that it is not enough to pressure the Federal Government to pay a new wage without considering the ability of the private sector to afford it. Benson also suggested that the minimum wage should not be an exclusive list issue, as some states may be able to pay higher than others.

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