FOLLOWING the protest by the National Labour Congress (NLC), Garba Datti-Babawo, a member of the House of Representatives representing Sabon Gari federal constituency, who sponsored a bill to move the national minimum wage from the exclusive legislative list to concurrent list, has given reasons for presenting the bill before the National Assembly.
According to Datti-Babawo, many state governments could not afford to pay the new 30,000 naira minimum wage to their workers which may lead to of retrenching workers if they were to pay.
“Since it has been changed to 30,000 naira, you will find out that most of the states could not pay until the federal government intervened by giving them bailouts to pay. Now that there is no bailout, they cannot pay and most of the states are threatening to retrench most of their workers if they have to pay the 30,000 naira,” Datti-Babawo said.
He noted that the aim of the bill was to allow state governments to negotiate with the NLC on how much they could afford to pay their workers in consideration of the their revenue.
“What we are saying is that we should allow them to negotiate what they can pay based on their own resources because the money that goes to the federal government is not the same that goes to the state governments. Even among states, their resources are not the same.
When asked if the bill would create an environment for enslaving workers as said by the NLC, Datti-Babawo said even without the bill, state governments were not paying. “Of what good is a law that is not implementable and has no punishment when broken?” he asked.
The lawmaker advised the NLC to change its method of abuses and intimidation, and come out for constructive engagement.
“I am looking at their protests now. The chairman is talking about me, which is a very wrong approach, and he should not talk about me because it is an issue of National Assembly. If it is not a popular bill, it would not be voted for.