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₦40,000 Minimum Wage Barely Took Workers Home Says Obaseki as He Explains increment to ₦70,000 - TELL Magazine

₦40,000 Minimum Wage Barely Took Workers Home Says Obaseki as He Explains increment to ₦70,000

Labour House Commissioning by Godwin Obaseki
Labour House Commissioning

Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, said he decided to increase the state’s minimum wage from ₦40,000 to ₦70, 000 because the prevailing economic situation in the country had made nonsense of what was being paid. Governor Obaseki said in spite of giving the workers’ insurance, improved conditions of service, and timely salary payment and promotions, they remained challenged as their take-home pay could barely take them home. The national minimum wage has remained ₦30,000 since 2019, while that of Edo State was raised to ₦40,000 June 6 last year, to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy withdrawal by President Bola Tinubu on May 29, 2023.

Governor Obaseki had on Monday during the commissioning of Labour House, an ultra-modern secretariat for the organized labour in the state named after immediate past governor of the state and former President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Adams Oshiomhole, announced the new minimum wage of ₦70,000 to take effect from May 1, 2024, celebrated globally as Workers Day.

The governor, who was disappointed that the federal government was yet to arrive at a new national minimum wage for its workforce, promised to make necessary adjustments should something higher be imposed.

According to him, “As a result of the cordial relationship between the Edo State Government and labour unions in the state, we have enjoyed peace and industrial harmony in Edo State. Despite our efforts to make life better for Edo State workers, there are forces beyond our control, as we don’t control the national economy as our workers are still languishing in pain and penury.

Labour House Commissioning by Godwin Obaseki
Labour House Commissioning

“As a government, we feel your pains and know your take-home pay can barely take you home. We will continue to try. I am one of those governors who believe that we can’t run away from the fact that we must adjust the minimum wage in Nigeria. It would have been nice for there to be a central and cohesive and common approach. We would have expected that by now, there should have been a direction as to what minimum wage will be for workers in Nigeria.

“We don’t know when that will happen. If it happens, fine; and if not, as a state, we would need to do what we need to do. For us in Edo State, we have decided to move the minimum wage from ₦40,000 to ₦70,000 effective from 1st of May 2024. I think like a capitalist and not a comrade. In my May Day speech, I will give more details on our new minimum wage. If the Federal Government imposes something higher, we will make the necessary adjustments.”

Recognising the labour unions’ sustained partnership with the government leading to the industrial harmony enjoyed in the state, Governor Obaseki noted that “You have joined us to pursue very deep institutional reforms in the state as our achievements have been made possible because of the cordial relationship we enjoy.

“Labour-Government relationship should not be only at policy contestation level but should be an alignment towards a common goal for workers, and that is what we have found in Edo. Government and labour have found a common ground to improve the lives of the workers in Edo State.”

On the imposing edifice being commissioned, the governor said “This building was conceived by my predecessor in office and my contribution is to make it happen. We have continued to invest in our workers in Edo State and our achievement in Edo State is to contribute to the welfare and well-being of Edo State workers. We not only developed the work environment but placed emphasis on building the capacity of Edo State workers. We continue to emphasise training and restraining as an integral part of our workforce as we believe that there is a connection between high performance and training.”

In his speech, the Edo State Head of Service, Dr. Anthony Okungbowa, commended the governor’s commitment to the welfare of Edo workers, enumerating some of his achievements to include full digitisation of the state civil service, prompt payment of salaries, highest minimum wage in Nigeria, payment of 13th month salary, life insurance for Edo workers, health insurance for workers, automatic employment for first-class graduates from Edo State, and regular promotion for Edo workers, among others.

The NLC President, Joe Ajaero, who delivered the inaugural lecture titled, “Leveraging the legacies of Pa. Michael Imoudu as a way of fostering harmonious and productive industrial relations”, commended the state government for deeming it necessary to honour the labour unionists who had made contributions during their period in the affairs of organised labour leadership in the country.

Foremost among those honoured were late Pa Michael Imoudu, who is generally regarded as the father of labour unionism in Nigeria, and a former president of the NLC, Adams Oshiomhole. Others were: Lasisi Osunde, (former secretary of NLC) late Dr. Festus Iyayi, Lawson Osagie, late Jonathan Ihonde, former TUC president, Peter Esele, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, immediate past World Medical Association, (WMA) President, and the current President of Trade Union Congress, (TUC) Festus Osifo.

On his part, Osifo described the building as the best labour edifice, adding that “the achievements of the governor are not contestable.”

Thanking Governor Obaseki “for digitising the labour workforce in Edo State, Osifo said he was impressed by his “developmental achievements which have helped to reduce the plight of workers in Edo State.”

In his welcome address, the state chairman of the NLC, Odion Olaye, not only thanked the governor for his “magnanimity, friendliness and concern” towards Edo workers, he also appreciated him for “this edifice for the organised labour as workers in Edo State have long been waiting for a day like this as the house has been desired for over 25 years”. Olaye described the building as “second to none in Nigeria”.

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