We are gathered here today to address issues concerning the welfare of the Nigerian people. Like his counterpart all over the world, the Nigerian worker is a vital element in the growth and development of modern nations. I therefore welcome the nominees of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Committee who have been selected for the very important task of renegotiating the National Minimum Wage for our workers.
2. We all know that the last Minimum Wage Instrument has expired, and it is in recognition of the need to ensure a fair and decent living wage that the Federal Government put in motion necessary mechanism so that we can today inaugurate this large committee with a big task ahead of you.
3. You are all aware that during the period following the increase in Petrol Pump Price in May 2016, a Technical Committee was established to examine and make recommendations to Government on the measures to be adopted to cushion the envisaged painful effects of the increase on workers and the Nigerian populace at large.
4. During the deliberations of the Technical Committee which comprised Government and Organized Labour, the need for the review of the National Minimum Wage was highlighted and recommendation to set up a committee to look into the level of minimum wage was made accordingly. I am glad that the recommendation is being acted upon today and we can all acknowledge that this is in line with our democratic process. I wish to thank all those who participated in that exercise.
5. Considering the scope of the membership of this new National Minimum Wage Committee we can see that it is encompassing all stakeholders. My hope is that, the outcome of the deliberations of the Committee would be consensual and generally acceptable. I therefore urge you to amicably consider the issue of a National Minimum Wage and all matters that are ancillary to it with thoroughness and concern not only for the welfare of our work-force but the effect on the country’s economy.
6. The subject of a National Minimum Wage for the Federation is within the Exclusive Legislative List of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). Accordingly, we should aim to go above the basic Social Protection Floor for all Nigerian workers based on the ability of each tier of Government to pay.
7. I say this because minimum wage is the minimum amount of compensation an employee must receive for putting in his or her labour and as such should be anchored on Social Justice and Equity.
8. Government’s decision after considering your final recommendation will be sent as an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for it to undergo appropriate legislative scrutiny before passage into law.
9. As is evident by the membership of the Committee, State Governors and Private Sector Employers are part of this process. This will ensure ease of implementation of a new Minimum Wage nationwide.
10. I am hopeful that the principles of full consultation with Social Partners and their direct participation would be utilized by the Committee, bearing in mind the core provisions of the International Labour Organisation Minimum Wage Fixing Convention No. 131 and Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery Convention No.26 (ratified by Nigeria).
11. Accordingly, conditions of genuine Social Dialogue should prevail in the spirit of Tripartism and Collective Bargaining Agreements. I therefore enjoin you all to collectively bargain in good faith, have mutual recognition for each other and always in a spirit of give and take.
12. The Committee is expected to complete its deliberations and submit its report and recommendations as soon as possible to enable other requisite machinery to be set in motion for implementation of a new National Minimum Wage.
I wish you fruitful deliberations and I am very happy to inaugurate this Committee.