The House of Representatives is seeking to decentralise the payment of minimum wage to workers in the country to allow each tier of government to pay according to its financial capacity.
The Federal Government currently fixes the official minimum wage for the country, a development most states have complained that it’s a burden on them because they can’t afford the N30,000.
At its plenary on Tuesday, a member from Kaduna State, Rep. Garba Datti, sponsored a bill seeking to transfer the minimum wage from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List.
The constitutional amendment bill has the long title, “A Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), to amongst others, Transfer the Subject Matter of Minimum Wage Prescription from the Exclusive Legislative List set out under Part I of the Second Schedule to the Concurrent Legislative List set out under Part II of the Second Schedule; and for Related Matters.”
Datti argued that wage payment should be decentralisd to allow each state to pay according to its financial capacity.
He noted that it would be unfair to expect River State and Zamfara state for example, to pay the same minimum wage because their resource capacities were not the same.
The bill generated interesting debates at the session, which was presided over by the Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila.
While some members supported the bill, others also vehemently kicked against it.
For example, the Chairman, House Committee on Tertiary Education, Rep. Aminu Suleiman, argued that the reason some state governments were unable to pay the minimum wage was misplaced priorities.
He cited the cases of states that embarked on airport projects, spending up to $60million on an airport project when they were unable to pay salaries.
“These airports become a waste of resources. At best they are used for private flights only on weekends.
“The problem is that some states set the wrong priorities.
If this bill goes to the committee, some of us will follow it there to make sure that it does not succeed”, Suleiman added.
Lawmakers were divided over the bill so much so that the speaker had to describe the debates as “very interesting and robust.”
He later rammed his gavel to pass the bill for second reading when the “ayes” voted more in support of the bill.