CDHR rejects N27,000 minimum wage, seeks resolution of ASUU strike
The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), has opposed the proposed N27,000 minimum wage approved by National Council of State.
CDHR said the approval was an attempt to undermine the agreement reached by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and the Federal Government, saying such a move must be resisted.
National President of CDHR, Malachy Ugwummadu, said the National Council of State has no such power to approve any amount as they did.
According to him, such intervention is illegal and unconstitutional considering that under Section 153 (1), and particularly in Part 1, 3rd schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended).
“The role of the Council of State is merely advisory on clearly identified issues excluding the minimum wage pointedly provided for under S.34 of the Exclusive Legislative list, and regulated by the National Minimum Wage Act.
“The NLC’s struggle to ensure that workers in Nigeria received a befitting minimum wage is not new. It must be recalled that over the last few weeks, the NLC has been involved in negotiations with the Federal Government on the upward review of the minimum wage as provided in the National Minimum Wage Act.
“Although the Federal Government repeatedly expressed concern over the possible increase in inflation, an agreement was reached that minimum wage would be increased from N18,000 to N30,000. In view of the current increase in prices of essential commodities in Nigeria, it was no longer feasible for minimum wage to remain at N18,000”, he added.
The group stressed that the fragmentation of minimum wage where state government workers would receive N27, 000 while their counterparts working for the Federal Government would receive N30, 000 is unacceptable.
“The market does not discriminate between federal and state workers and as such this represents the continuation of hardship for the average Nigerian worker.
“It is not proper for the National Council of State to approve another sum when it has not sought the approval of the NLC, TUC, UTUC and other trade centres with whom the Federal Government negotiated.
“The National Council of states is ordinarily bound by the agreement reached by the Federal Government and Labour. Indeed, nobody, not even the court is encouraged to vary or undermine a verifiable agreement reached by parties”, the body added.
Speaking on the on-going strike embarked on by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the human rights group urged the Federal Government to address the issues raised by the lecturers to enable Nigerian students in public universities resume their studies.
“ASUU has been on strike since November 5, 2018 and it is very unfortunate that the Federal Government is yet to fully address their requests. Again, it exposes the scant respect that successive governments of Nigeria pay to agreements duly reached.
“The Federal Government must not stop at promises but must actually work on the implementation of those agreements whether with ASUU or Labour.
“Previous failures at implementing promises have made it difficult for the common man to trust that the government will honour their word.
“It is only logical for the government to transmit the already prepared and attached National Minimum Wage Bill to the National Assembly for legislation allowances. Every person who works hard is certainly entitled to his wages and lecturers are by no means an exception to this.
“The public university system must not be allowed to fail because of such disagreements,” the group said.