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House of Representatives considers decentralizing minimum wage

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TUE 23 FEB, 2021-theGBJournal- The House of Representatives is seeking to decentralise the payment of minimum wage to workers in the country to allow each tier of government to according to its financial capacity, according to report seen by theGBJournal on Tuesday.

The Federal Government currently fixes the official minimum wage for the country but most states say they can’t afford the N30, 000 imposed by the Federal Government.

House of Reps said Tuesday that member from Kaduna State, Rep. Garba Datti sponsored a bill seeking to transfer the minimum wage from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List.

The Constitutional amendment bill has the long title, ‘’A Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), to amongst others, transfer the Subject Matter of Minimum Wage Prescription from the Exclusive Legislative List set out under Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Concurrent Legislative List set out under Part 11 of the Second Schedule; and for Related Matters.’’

Datti, according to a statement by the House of Reps, argued ‘’that wage paymeny should be decentralised to allow each state pay according to its financial capacity,’’ noting that ‘’that it would be unfair to expect Rivers State/Zamfara state for example, to pay the same minimum wage because their resource capacities were not the same.’’

The Bill generated interesting debates at the session, which was presided over by the Sapeaker, Rep Femi Gbajabiamila. While some members supported the bill, others also vehemently kicked against it.

The Chairman, House Committee on Tertiary Education, Rep Aminu Suleiman, who voiced obvious dissent to the Bill argued that the reason some state governments were unable to pay the minimum was misplaced priorities.

He cited the cases of states that embarked on airport projects, spending up to $60 million on an airport project when they were unable to pay salaries.

‘’These airports became a waste of resources. At best they are used for private flights only on weekends. The problem is that some states set wrong priorities. If the Bill goes to the Committee, some of us will follow it there to make sure that it does not succeed.’’ Suleiman said.

The Bill in the end passed for a second reading after it received more votes from supporters.

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