The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) has stated that it is vehemently opposed to the N27, 000 minimum wage approved by the National Council of State on Tuesday.
According to the CDHR, which made this declaration in a statement on Wednesday, the move is an attempt to undermine the earlier agreement reached by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Federal Government.
Thus, “such move must be resisted,” it said in the statement signed by Malachy Ugwummadu, its President.
Ugwummadu argued that the National Council of State has no such power to approve any amount as they did.
He explained that “Such intervention is illegal and unconstitutional considering that under s. 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 in the under s.34 of the Exclusive Legislative list and regulated by the National Minimum Wage Act.”
The CDHR noted 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, for which N30, 000 was reportedly approved.
“Although the Federal Government repeatedly expressed concerns over the possible increase in inflation, an agreement was reached that minimum wage would be increased from N18, 000 to N30, 000,” the human right advocacy body said.
“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.
“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 totally 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 centers 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.”
On the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) since November 5, 2018, the CDHR called for the immediate intervention of the Federal Government to allow for the reopening of the universities.
“With regards to the ongoing strike embarked on by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), CDHR hereby demands that the Federal Government addresses the issues raised by the lecturers in order that Nigerian students in public universities resume their studies,” the statement stressed.
The CDHR regretted that the Federal Government has yet to fully address the university teachers’ requests, saying “it exposes the scant respect that successive governments of Nigeria pay to agreements duly reached.”