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Minimum Wage: We were not elected to pay salaries alone- Governors

Governors under the auspices of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) on Thursday, stated that they were not voted into power to pay salaries alone but also to provide good infrastructures such as roads, electricity, education, etc.

The governors stated this in response to the contentious issue of minimum wage implementation.

The governors also called for the examination of the national income in the last 14 years to enable them reach a middle ground minimum wage.

The chairman of the NGF and Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari, stated this during a press briefing after its meeting in Abuja.

He added that the development was part of the discussion they had at a meeting on Wednesday night.

The committee working on the minimum wage is concluding negotiations on the matter while the federal government has fixed September for rolling out a new minimum wage for workers.

But the governors said they cannot perform any magic as funds are needed “for these things”.

The governors are insisting on the staggering of the implementation of the new wage if approved while the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is proposing a minimum wage of N65,000 for workers.

Yari said it is regrettable that states governments have been limited to only paying of salaries while other sectors such as health, electricity, education, among others, are not given the same attention as salaries.

He said, “We have a committee of six which represented us in discussions in the committee headed by labour minister.

“The committee is yet to give us the final report. When they give us the final report, for which they have our mandate to present our position, and the position most likely is to look at the record of up to 14 years.

“For instance, in global practice, in your income, how much are you spending as salary, so that we can start from there. They have given us interim report, that at the federal government level, over 82 percent is being spent on overhead which cannot move the country forward in terms of infrastructure development and development that we need now.

“So, on our own part, we are saying we are going to look at how our incomes are trimmed from our final account from 14 years ago so that we can come up and stay in the middle.

“I don’t think you people voted us for only to pay salaries. You are looking for good roads, electricity, education and others. So, we can’t do magic. It’s only when we have the funds do all those things.”

Yari said the governors also deliberated on the way the anti-graft agencies have been handling the fight against corruption and resolved that the agencies must follow due process.

Speaking on the reported freezing of Akwa Ibom and Benue states government accounts by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Yari told reporters that even President Muhammadu Buhari will not support the action.

He said, “We believe strongly that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari will not sit down and supervise this illegality in the system.

“What we are saying is that we all support the government to fight corruption because it is endemic and has suffered the nation for over six decades. Definitely, it was part of what we discussed.

“What we are saying now is that we are going to support the government in terms of what it is doing to fight corruption, but due process must be respected in whatever action the agencies are going to take in the name of fighting corruption.”

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