National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has backed workers on demands for a new minimum wage.
He said paying refusal to pay a living wage amounts to creating a circle of poverty for the masses.
The former Edo State governor said improving the purchasing powers of workers cannot be overemphasised because when people cannot afford good and services, manufacturers are forced to close shops, leading to loss of jobs.
He said there was no basis for governors to insist on not paying what he described as living wage to workers.
He assured workers President Muhammadu Buhari will not do anything that will undermine their welfare.
Oshiomhole spoke at a reception for President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Comrade Ayuba Wabba on his election as President of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Financial Secretary of NLC, Comrade Safiyanu Mohammed, who was appointed as the Africa regional secretary of the International Transport Federation.
He said if governors of the 36 states receive the same salaries irrespective of their revenue bases, there was no reason why wages of workers should not be the same across the country.
The former NLC President said: “I am sure you must have read some of my comments on the minimum wage. I have told people that even I was to become the Secretary General of the United Nations I am a creation of Labour and I will never, publicly or privately, do anything that will undermine or do anything that is designed to possibly affect the welfare of Nigeria workers.
“I am a believer Nigeria needs to have a National minimum wage. I do not belong to those who say because we are in a Federation, we should have different wages.
“I join in amplifying that we cannot apply the principles of federalism separately.
“If we have the National Salaries and Wages Commission that makes it possible for me as governor of Edo State presiding over about 4.3 million population to earn the same salary as the governor of Kano and Lagos state who are presiding over 15 million, that argument cannot change when it comes to fixing a National minimum wage.
“The primary purpose of government is the welfare of the people. The most portent asset of the people is the state that protects you from the oppressor.
“This President is not about to put that asunder no matter the pressure from any section of governors or state.
“I believe that we have to work together not only to get wages fixed, but to ensure also that they are paid. When the President makes public statements like the ones he has made, he has challenged you to take advantage and make sure that when he provide those resources as he has done almost four times, you ensure that they are used for the purpose for which he provided the money. If you don’t, I don’t think you have someone else to blame.
On the position of governors that they cannot pay the N30, 000 demanded by labour as minimum wage, Oshiomhole: “Minimum wage is not about party but about Nigeria.
“When I was a member of the governors’ forum, I did publicly advise my colleagues then that when it comes to the issue of minimum wage, I am not with them. Not only secretly but publicly too, I am going to dissociate myself.
“I believe that we need a National minimum wage. I believe that Nigeria is capable of paying a National minimum wage.
“I believe the primary purpose of government is the welfare of the people and that payment of wages is not a process of prosperity.
“If Nigeria was to wake up tomorrow and there is no one liter of oil and you must employ a worker, you are obliged to pay.
“Wages is a consequence of work. He who must employ must pay and even the Bible says a laborer is entitled to his wages.
“I believe this view and I have canvassed them. I had an extensive interview on this and I spoke extensively on it.”Read More