Anambra State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, says he pities President Bola Tinubu if he approves an “unsustainable” minimum wage for workers in the country.

The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) warned that not all state governments and the Organised Private Sector can pay the ₦62,000 being proposed by the Federal Government and the ₦250,000 demand of the Organised Labour.

Soludo spoke on Wednesday at “The Platform Nigeria”, a programme by Lagos-based church, Covenant Nation, to mark the 2024 Democracy Day.

He warned that an unsustainable wage might lead to job losses and spiraling economic challenges in the country. Soludo and his 35 colleagues under the umbrella of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum had previously described minimum wage demands of Labour as unsustainable.

In his Democracy Day address on Wednesday, Tinubu assured Labour that an executive bill on the new national minimum wage for workers would soon be sent to the National Assembly for passage.

The President would make a decision on the ₦62,000 proposal of the government and private sector side; and the ₦250,000 demand of the Organised Labour.

However, Soludo said at the best of estimates, the Federal Government revenue won’t exceed ₦17 trillion this year. “If you share it to all Nigerians, it comes to ₦6,160 per person, per month, per capita. If you take even the total ₦28. 7 trillion (budget) and share, it will come down to ₦10,000 per capita,” he said.

He argued that the private sector employs a huge percentage of the total workforce in the country and not all of them can pay the ₦62,000 proposed by the Federal Government. Soludo said he spoke with nine entrepreneurs in his state and none of them could pay the proposed amount by Labour.

The Anambra governor said, “The minimum wage thing, everybody is right. The worker is right to say, ‘What am I getting?’ Nobody is asking what does a worker do? We are not asking that question yet. All we are saying is: ‘How much does he need?’ He (the worker) is right, and for me, even if we pay N1 million, it’s not enough.

“But on the other hand, you have to come back to reality; talking about these MSMEs, the schools, churches, so on and so forth. You will have to pay your own driver. We are all in it. Whatever they agree, we will muddle through but may be after one year, we will need to meet to discuss the consequences.”

“I pity the President because it will all be on his head if the consequences come down, whatever it is, if whatever is negotiated is unsustainable or payable or whatever. Months to come, who will bear the responsibility? Not me.”

Anambra is one of the states yet to start paying the N30,000 minimum wage approved in 2019, according to the labour unions.

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