Here are two things Nigerian Governors could do to avoid reducing the N18,000 minimum wage

For Nigerian governors and the civil service the battle over the minimum wage of N18,000 continues. For the last month, governors have complained that they cannot afford to pay civil servants’ wages.

Yesterday, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum (NGF), Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara state implied that governors are having a hard time paying the minimum wage for Nigerian civil servants, due to financial stress in their states. He has suggested that the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), state governors and the presidency renegotiate the terms of the minimum wage.

Yari and the other governors blame the prospective reduction of the N18,000 minimum wage on the global decline in oil prices, and argue that if the decline persists, governors may not be able to keep up with the payments. They have also said they might have to slash the N18,000 minimum wage or retrench scores of civil servants to keep their states afloat financially.

Denying that the governors have intentions of scrapping the minimum wage, Gov. Yari said, “what we said is that when the National Assembly enacted the law of paying N18,000 minimum wage, then the oil was about $118 per barrel and today where we are oil is $41 per barrel”.

While their real intentions are still debatable, many are doubtful that the governors are willing to make their own sacrifices in solidarity with the civil servants whom they have asked to tighten their belts. “Therefore we are saying that we should tighten our belts. Something definitely, we should sit down and come out of it to find a way we are going to do it realistically or otherwise”, Gov. Yari said.

Here are two options the NGF might consider.

Cut back on white elephant projects in their states

Days ago, the Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha was openly condemned by the former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha over an alleged N600 million earmarked for Christmas decorations in the state. Okorocha however, replied Ihedioha alleging quick judgment over what he considered to be just a project in its planning phase. However, it seems inappropriate that a state governor who has not paid parastatal and agency staff for months would plan to spend such an amount on Christmas decor. According to The Sun, Okorocha has owed employees at the Water Board 12 months salary, the Library Board eight months salary, Due Process nine months salary  Imo Marketing Board 10 months salary, Imo Specialist Hospital 13 months salary and Hospital Management Board 9 months salary. If the state government were to put the proposed N600 million for christmas decorations towards paying workers at the minimum wage level, they would be able to make up 33,000 salaries for one month.

Cut down on number of the number automobiles

It is commonplace in Nigeria to see government officials driving in large envoys on the roads. According to the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) which became effective on July 1, 2009, a governor is entitled to N8,894,820.00 for vehicles and maintenance each year. Even cutting this budget by one million naira in each state could save hundreds of jobs around the country and pay 2000 workers at a minimum wage level.

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