Tuesday, January 8, 2019 3:55 pm
Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta on Tuesday reassured state workers of his administration’s commitment to pay the Federal Government’s approved national minimum wage for Nigerian workers.
The governor gave the assurance while addressing protesting workers under the aegis of the Nigeria Labour Congress, the United Labour Congress (ULC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) at Government House in Asaba.
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Tam Brisibe, the governor said that his administration had always maintained a cordial relationship with the labour unions.
He added that his administration would continue to ensure that workers welfare was sustained and prioritised.
“You know that we have never had any issues with labour in Delta, and my government as you all know is a labour-friendly government.
“We acknowledge the letter that you sent in respect of the new national minimum wage; I am sure with the previous discussion your executives had with the government, you already have my commitment.
“Once the Federal Government establishes the new minimum wage and puts it into law, Delta government will implement it immediately.
“We all know that it is not the responsibility of the Delta Government to say what the wage should be but once that is agreed on, we will implement,’’ Okowa said.
On why the new wage was not provided for in the state budget for 2019, Okowa said that upon approval, the state government would raise a supplementary budget to take care of the additional funding.
“The new wage has not been passed into law, so it will not be appropriate for us to make a provision for it in the 2019 budget.
“But you know that if it is passed into law today, a supplementary budget can be put in to accommodate whatever adjustments are necessary,’’ the governor said.
Okowa, however, commended the union for its orderly manner and approach to issues, adding that this could not be called a protest but a forum to present your issues to the state government.
He said that the state government knew the plight of workers and would continue to support them and work with the union.
Earlier, the State Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Jonathan Jemirimigbe, read the letter issued by the NLC National President, Ayuba Wabba, and presented same to the state government.
In the letter read in part, Ayuba said that the rally was to obtain the commitment of the state government to the speedy implementation of the new national minimum wage of N30, 000 when enacted into law.
According to Ayuba, the political behaviour of Nigerian workers is contingent upon the commitment to the expeditious enactment of the new national minimum wage by the legislature, before the polls.
“Nigerian workers as voters will indeed take their eventual fate to the polling stations and indicate in the ballot their views on the faithful implementation of the new minimum wage by the executive.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the fate of the new wage will largely determine the electoral preference of Nigerian workers in 2010.’’
In an interview, Jemirimigbe said that the rally was to sensitise the general public, the Federal and State governments to expedite action on the presentation and passage of the new wage bill by the national assembly.
Jemirimigbe said that the rally was also to expedite implementation of the new wage bill after presentation and passage by the Federal Government.
“Now that this message has been passed across by way of this rally, protest and sensitisation, the national assembly has to do the needful.
“We are waiting for further directives from the national body of the NLC based on the outcome of their negotiation with the Federal Government.
“It is our hope that the Federal Government will do the needful.
“So that we will know those governors who are speaking the truth or whether they are hiding under the cover because the new wage has not been passed into law,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the protesters drawn from the NLC, Trade Union Congress (TUC) and United Labour Congress (ULC) marched from the Labour House along NTA-Okoanam Road.
They went through Inter-Bau to Government House singing solidarity songs.
Also members of the unions carried placards with inscriptions such as; “we create the wealth’’, “we deserve better pay’’; “good-bye to N18,000 minimum wage’’; “on N30,000 national minimum wage we stand’’ among others.