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States can’t pay minimum wage without increased allocation – Oyebanji

The Ekiti State Governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, on Wednesday, said governors, under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, are not against approval of a living wage for Nigerian workers.

Oyebanji said the NGF was only clamouring for fiscal federalism that would culminate in the ability and capability of individual states to pay.

Organised labour is battling the Federal Government over delay tactics in implementing the new minimum wage for workers.

While the tripartite committee set up by the government recommended N62,000 to President Bola Tinubu, the governors insisted that most states could not pay the amount and asked that the new minimum wage be pegged at N57,000.

The recommendations of both the tripartite committee and the NGF were, however, not acceptable to the organised labour who came down to the N250,000 benchmark during the final meeting of the tripartite committee.

As Tinubu opted to dialogue with the NGF and the employers, the labour came hard on the governors, accusing them of being insensitive to the plight of the workers.

Oyebanji, speaking in Ado Ekiti, during the Seventh Quadrennial Delegates’ Conference of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, however, said no state wanted to downsize its workforce, adding that each state was interested in determining what it could afford that would not end up in the eventual retrenchment.

“The NGF is not against the living wage. No governor is against the minimum wage, but what we are saying is that it must reflect fiscal federalism, ability and capacity to pay.

“No governor wants to retrench, if there is a minimum wage today without a concurrent increment in what we are earning, no state can pay.

“That is the conversation we are having – that, look, we want to give you a living wage, but we must look at what comes to the states and whatever is in the best interest of the states and the workers, we will do,” Oyebanji said.

The governor told the workers, “My appeal to civil servants is that those who would like to be part of our agriculture revolution should form themselves into cooperative societies and approach the Ministry of Agriculture for support.

“It may be difficult to support you individually, but when you form yourselves into cooperatives, many opportunities are available now. We are clearing land free of charge, we are giving inputs and we are going to buy from you. As I speak today, we have cleared more than 2,000 hectares across Ekiti State.”

Oyebanji reiterated the pivotal role civil servants played in the growth and development of the state, especially in the realisation of the six pillars of his administration, adding that whatever compliments the administration had received could only be directly attributed to the efficiency and effectiveness of the workers.

He said, “I have come here today to associate and rejoice with you as major stakeholders in our body polity.

“More importantly, I am also here to learn from you and to share in your experience. As you know, the civil service is a reservoir of talents where you can find all professionals of different callings and experiences.

“A conference like this does not benefit the senior civil servants alone, it is an avenue for all of us to learn from one another, cross-fertilise ideas, and share experiences. I am, therefore, not just here as a special guest of honour, I am here as a student of Public Administration,” the governor stated.


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