Indications emerged on Thursday that the Federal Government may have decided to review the revenue allocation sharing formula to enable states meet the new minimum wage proposal pegged at N30, 000.
This much was gathered by newsmen from a source privy to the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting which was held at the Presidential Villa on Thursday.
Beyond this, the NEC also resolved to take the thorny issues regarding the new minimum wage to the Council of State for further deliberations.
All this is coming after the constitution of the Presidential Advisory Committee chaired by renowned economist and financial expert, Bismarck Rewane, which President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated recently.
The consultative meeting is expected to hold on Tuesday next week.
The decision to consult with the Council of State, which comprises the president, who is the chairman; the vice president, who is the deputy chairman; all former presidents of the federation, and all former heads of government of the federation; all former Chief Justices of Nigeria, Presidents of the Senate, Speakers of the House of Representatives; all state governors, and former attorneys-general of the federation was arrived at the National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday at the Presidential Villa.
Recall that series of meetings between the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, and the leadership of the organised labour, had culminated in a decision to forward the new wage bill to the National Assembly on or before January 23.
The move was sequel to threats from the organised labour to shut down the economy on January 28.
Responding to questions from State House correspondents after NEC, Ngige said: “Well, there is no outcome as such, it’s a work in progress. The information minister told you the other day after the Federal Executive Council meeting that we are taking our deliberations to the National Economic Council and then we close up on the 22nd at the Council of State meeting, after that we will be able to say where we are going.
“Especially on the figures, frequency of review, those that have exemption and everything about the bill, so that people will know – because by then we will be ready to transmit it to the National Assembly in consonance with our agreement with labour that we would transmit the new bill on or before the 23rd of January.
“Discussions on the N30, 000 are still ongoing and will terminate on 22nd when we meet with the Council of State.”
While the wage bill crisis brewed, state governors under the auspices of Nigerian Governors’ Forum had made their reservations on the new wage demand, insisting that a review of the revenue sharing formula was the only panacea to the challenge.
While labour mounted pressure on the government, using a warning strike, the governors proposed to pay N22,500 whereas the Federal Government had settled for N24,000 until the national tripartite committee, chaired by former Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ama Pepple, agreed to N30,000 as proposed by labour.
Among the governors who mooted the idea of a review of the revenue sharing formula to enable states adequately cater for their workers was Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State.
He had likened the allocation accrued to states from the federation account as a ‘sign wave’ which made permutations difficult because it was not constant.
“The balance of justice is that the country’s leaders should dialogue and allocate percentages to its various sectors which include workers’ salaries, education, infrastructure, judiciary, legislature, among others.
“The burning issue presently in Nigeria is workers’ welfare, which every right thinking person will support and I have said severally that N30, 000 minimum wage is not even enough for workers.
“It is my desire to improve on workers’ welfare but something must be done at the centre so that the states can breathe.
“To clamp the nut on the petroleum subsidy episode, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) should be more transparent and accountable to the federation account,” he had stated.
The last time the council of state held their meeting was 11 months ago, on February 22, 2018 to deliberate on Nigeria’s economy, security, and 2019 elections.
The body advises the president in the exercise of his powers with respect to national population census and compilation, publication and keeping of records and other information concerning the same; prerogative of mercy; award of national honours; the Independent National Electoral Commission (including the appointment of members of that commission); the National Judicial Council (including the appointment of the members, other than ex-officio members of that Council), and the National Population Commission (including the appointment of members of that commission).