Eight months after the Federal Government commenced payment of N35,000, a wage award in addition to N30,000 minimum wage to workers, and urged state governments to replicate it, 15 states are yet to do so while seven paid briefly and stopped.

The wage award was to lessen the burden of economic hardship on the citizenry pending the implementation of a new minimum wage.

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, described the refusal of some states to pay the wage award to their workers as the height of insensitivity, lamenting the suffering workers were going through as a result of the anti-poor policies of the government.

Meanwhile, 15 states are paying sums ranging from N10,000 to N40,000 to their workers as wage awards or salary increments. States that are not paying include one in the South-East, four in the South-South, three in the North-East, two in the North-Central and five in the North-West. Meanwhile, states that paid wage awards for one to four months and stopped include Delta, Niger, Plateau, Kaduna, Bauchi and Nasarawa.

On the other hand, states that are paying are Lagos, Edo, Bayelsa, Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, Ondo, Osun, Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti, Kano, Kwara, Cross River and Taraba.

Tinubu’s plea

President Bola Tinubu, in March, during a working visit to Minna, Niger State, urged the 36 state governors to begin payment of wage awards to workers in their states, saying the move will alleviate hardship in the country. Governors Hyacinth Alia (Benue), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos) and AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (Kwara) were among the governors at the event.

Speaking directly to Abdulrazaq, who is chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, Tinubu said: “I have been paying wage awards pending determination of the new minimum wage. Let all the sub-nationals start paying that. The wage award, with whatever they are taking now, will relieve the public. I am not giving an order, I am appealing to you sub-nationals. It’s a relief to the people.”

Despite the president’s plea, many states are yet to commence paying wage awards to their workers. In Delta State, the Commissioner for Information, Dr. Ifeanyi Osuoza said the state government will set up a committee to examine wage-related issues.

He said: “Governor Sheriff Oborevwori said during Workers Day that a committee would be set up to look into it so that, at the end of the day, we can be able to be on the same page with labour and workers; that is the line we are following.”

On whether the committee will look into wage awards in addition to minimum wage, Osuoza said: “Anything that has to do with emoluments for workers, the committee will look at it.”

Rivers and Akwa Ibom governments said they were waiting for an official declaration by the Federal Government on the wage increase while the Delta State government had set up a committee to review workers’ wages.

Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State assured that his administration will key into the new minimum wage for workers when it comes into force.

“We have directed the compilation of casual workers in the state. We will continue to ensure that we support our workers, and we will continue to do our best to make them happy. We will ensure that we continue to improve our workers’ welfare.

“And on the minimum wage, we will wait for the Federal Government and then we will key into it and come to terms with the minimum wage for Akwa Ibom civil servants,” the governor stated on Workers Day.

The Rivers State Government is also awaiting the outcome of the tripartite negotiations between the Labour, Organised Private Sector, and the Federal Government on minimum wage to determine its next action.

While labour is demanding N250,000 minimum wage, the Federal Government and OPS have offered N62,000. President Tinubu in his Democracy Day broadcast said he will send an executive bill to the National Assembly on the issue soon.

Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Joseph Johnson, said: “With the robust relationship existing between government and workers in the state, we are only waiting for the outcome of ongoing negotiations between Labour and the Federal Government to do the needful. We will take a position when the parties decide what to pay the workers. We will look at the size of our portfolio and decide on what to do.”

President of Rivers State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, Clifford Paul, told newsmen that Governor Sim Fubara had approved the payment of N35,000 to workers. He said Fubara announced the approval during a meeting with NULGE leadership and principal officers of the local government councils at the Government House, Port Harcourt.

“The governor also approved immediate implementation of the N35,000 wage award approved by the Federal Government to cushion the effect of the removal of .”

The chair of the NLC in the state, Alex Agwanwor, regretted that the governor had not commenced the implementation because of political distractions.

He said: “The state government has not started the payment but plans have been concluded. The problem we have now is the political unrest in the state. The political distraction in the state is much and I think it is affecting the implementation.

“We are not bothered about that now. It is not our priority now. What the governor is doing for the workers in the state is even more. We cannot assess his performance based on that because he is taking care of the welfare of the workers with a good heart,” he said.

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