Reps move to institutionalise periodic review of minimum wage
• Differ on observance of democracy day
The House of Representatives yesterday began a move that would see to the review of the national minimum wage every five-year. The development comes in the wake of consistent agitation by workers for better remuneration and welfare.
To bring its desire to fruition, the lower chamber of the National Assembly approved the second reading of the legislation, entitled the National Minimum Wage Act (Amendment) Bill 2017 and sponsored by House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, at the plenary presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
Leading debate on the general principles of the proposed bill, Gbajabiamila explained that the first review of the Act would be effective from January 1, 2017.
He regretted that Section 173 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 1 of the National Minimum Wage Act failed to expressly specify a periodic wage review as obtains in other climes.
Underlining the need for the exercise, Gbajabiamila contended that the subsisting N18,000 national minimum wage could not sustain the average Nigerian family in the face of the harsh economic realities in the country.
He warned of the “unintended consequences “ of sustaining such a ridiculous amount as minimum wage, saying the unenviable circumstance creates a breeding ground for corruption and other violent crimes in the polity.
The Lagos federal legislator enthused that the passage of the bill would check the current scenario where the decision to increase wages is entirely at the whims and caprices of the executive arm of government.
Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Emmanuel Orkev Jev, expressed satisfaction.
Dogara, subsequently, referred the bill to the House Committee on Labour and Productivity for further legislative work after a voice vote by the lawmakers.
Meanwhile, the chamber has disagreed over the propriety of celebrating the May 29 Democracy Day.
Debating the motion sponsored by Jev and Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, the lawmakers agreed, however, that with the achievements recorded so far since the return of civil rule in 1999, the day was worth remembering.
The Delta representative hailed former President Olusegun Obasanjo for resuming power on that day, saying if the day had not been set aside, “we will not be here talking about Democracy Day.”
But Gbajabiamila countered Ogor, stating that it was unnecessary to see the day from that viewpoint.