The Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, has expressed displeasure over what it described as false, the assertion that governors are refusing to pay the N30,000 national minimum wage as demanded by workers.
The governors’ concerns came just as organised labour has vowed that it will still go ahead with its planned protest against the delay in the transmission of the minimum wage bill to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a statement by Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, NGF Head, Media and Public Affairs, the governors said the N22,500 they proposed was arrived at after extensive deliberations among all 36 governors.
The governor said the decision was made in line with their individual financial capacities and liquidity, considering the economic situation of the country and the states’ other obligations to the majority of the people of their various domains.
He stated the governors were guided by the report of the Tripartite committee set up by the President.
The statement reads in part: “Governors have collectively made it abundantly clear that they would have been happy to pay workers the N30,000 but times are hard and because of financial constraints and other limitations, many states cannot afford it, for now.
“The NGF had offered workers a token increment to the sum of N22.500 from the current N18, 000 after the submission of the report of the Tripartite Committee set up by the President and headed by a retired Head of Service Ms. Amma Pepple on October 6th.
“Governors also emphasised that N22.500 is a “baseline threshold”, meaning that any governor who can pay more than N22,500 is therefore free to go ahead and do so.
“Let it be known that governors have met the President twice on this matter and presented their books to buttress their point.
”The president appears satisfied with the governors’ position, thus the decision to set up a new committee.
“It is important to add that, there has never been a time in this country, when states have embarked on a more aggressive revenue drive than they are doing today. And this is without exception or prejudice to any state.
“To put the records straight, governors are not under any obligation, by law, to show their books to the NLC.
“But they have, in their pursuit of the understanding of the union, done so, not once, but several times over, with a view to letting NLC know that what they are asking for is neither realistic nor sustainable.
“Yet, NLC remains adamant that its will must be done, or the heavens will fall.”
They added: “To therefore insist that states must oblige the NLC its demands, regardless of the economic gloom that stares the nation in the face is most unpatriotic and a deliberate attempt to hold the nation, especially the president, to ransom, this being an election year.
“At this point it is important to remind the NLC that most governors exhibited a high sense of responsibility and concern for the plight of workers by ensuring that most of them were paid their December salaries ahead of time.
“Some even received several months’ salary arrears that was owed them and they are happy with their governors.
“This is not the time for the NLC to destroy the existing conviviality that is already building-up between workers and their governors, especially in those states of the federation where governors are stepping up to the plate with the right decisions.”