States were split yesterday over the agreement the Federal Government reached with the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress, TUC, on Monday night to pay N35,000 wage award to federal workers to cushion the effect of petrol subsidy removal.
While some of the states said they would align with the Federal Government’s N35,000 wage award for its workers, others said they had already started paying their workers N10,000, even before the Federal Government award, and would therefore, not be bound by the central government’s move.
Recall that the Federal Government had, in the agreement, accepted to continue payment of the wage award until a new minimum wage is arrived at next year.
In Kwara State, the government said it had already started paying N10,000 wage award to its workers, even before the Federal Government and promised to continue to pay but was silent on its readiness to upscale it to N35,000.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, said yesterday: “KWSG started awarding extra N10,000 to every civil servant since July, apparently pioneering some sort of cash award.
He said: “This is to support them until a new minimum wage comes on stream. Some other pro-worker measures, including reduction of work days from five to three, have also been implemented in different sectors to strengthen the purchasing power of workers, with positive impacts on the larger economy.
“The government will continue with these measures and more, such as the N10,000 cash award to students of Kwara State origin, to bring more ease to the people.
“The Kwara State government commends the step of the federal government. It is, of course, expected that other states that do not already have such arrangements will follow suit with sustainable amounts that align with their own financial realities.”
In Kebbi State, the government said it would sit with cabinet members soon to determine what wage award to pay to its workers.
Special Adviser to Governor Nasir Idris, on Media and Publicity, Malam Yahya Sarki, said though it is still too early to comment on the issue as the agreement was only signed between the Federal Government and labour on Monday night, the governor, being a former unionist, will approve something substantial for the workers.
He did not, however, state whether the state government will pay up to the N35,000 reached between the Federal Government and Labour.
But in Enugu State, the government agreed to replicate the federal government’s wage award of N35,000 for its workers.
Enugu State Commissioner for Labour and Employment, Chika Ugwuoke, told Vanguard that the state will definitely structure subsidy removal palliative measures in the format the Federal Government had designed to alleviate the plight of workers in the state.
Ugwuoke said that the state government had already started with smooth distribution of palliatives provided by the Federal Government.
“Enugu State was very prompt in the distribution of palliatives to our people and this wage award won’t be any different,” Ugwuoke said.
On his part the Enugu State Chairman of NLC, Fabian Nwigbo, said they were part of the team that negotiated wage award which he disclosed was meant for federal, state and local government workers.
“I can only speak for my state which is Enugu and we are confident that the governor here will implement it.’’
In Niger State, the Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Hajiya Binta Mamman, declared that the state government will not be hasty in taking a decision on what to add to its workers salary, based on the N35,000 increment announced by President Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
The commissioner said the council meeting which would be presided over by Governor Muhammed Umaru Bago, will deliberate on what she described as sensitive issue to arrive at a figure to pay, after reviewing the financial implication for the state.
“The declaration of President Tinubu on the issue was an increment specially for federal civil servants and not for state workers and so far, I have not seen or heard any state government making a declaration on what to pay their workers, except those who had announced an adjustment even before that of the President.
“We are talking of huge amount of money here and when our governor is back, we will all sit down to take a decision at the Council meeting because we have to know what is coming into the coffers of the state and what should be going out to implement this in order not to start what we cannot continue,” she explained.
Binta urged workers to be patient on the issue, adding that a declaration would be made soon.
In Adamawa State, the state government said it was ahead of the Federal Government in the provision of palliatives to cushion effects of the removal of fuel subsidy.
This, government said it had already approved and had started paying N10, 000 across board as transport allowances to all categories of workers in the state.
Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, Deacon Humashi Wounosikoh, told Vanguard that the N 35,000 approved by the federal government will be looked into by the state government.
He noted that a directive on the N35,000 agreement between labour and the federal government is yet to be communicated to the state.
“The moment the directive is received from the Federal Government, Adamawa will sit with labour at our level here to see to its workability,” the CPS said.
In Ondo State, the government assured its workers that it would key into the federal government’s template to cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy.
Speaking with Vanguard in confidence, a top government official who pleaded anonymity, said:
“Although the agreement is between federal government and labour, but our own state too will have to meet with labour to discuss and agree on what will cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy.
“The state government will soon be meeting with the labour leadership in a bid to look into the matter appropriately.
“The state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, is ready to do whatever is within the limit of the state to assist the workers.
“Our state has even put in place some palliatives, such as free buses for our workers and free shuttle buses for students even before this agreement was reached between federal and the union.
“We want to assure our workers that they would smile after the negotiation with the state labour leaders was finalized.
In Oyo State, the Special Adviser to Oyo State Governor on Labour Matters, Mr. Titilola Sodo, said: “Oyo State Government will meet with the labour leadership in a collective bargaining process to arrive at a mutually-satisfying package for her employees.”
The state government expressed its desire to key-into the federal government’s measures to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal
Speaking with Vanguard, the Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Mr Taiwo Olatunbosun, said: “Our state will not be an exemption, having seen what the Federal Government has agreed to do with labour and the workers.
“Our state will take it from there and we will make sure we continue to give the best to workers and populace well-being and welfare and it will be important at this point to say Ekiti has taken the welfare and well-being of our workforce to the front line of our policies, and we are going to continue to do that.
“We are not going to lag behind in ensuring that we do everything within our powers and the ability of the state to make everybody happy.
“What the FG has done is good and we have to look at it at the state level, we will all look at it and do the needful for our workers. The nitty-gritty will be discussed and fine-tuned to follow suit.
“We have done a lot of relief packages, we have done a lot. We have been doing alot of palliatives and reliefs that will make our people okay.
“Concerning the wage award which has just been announced, this is the upper level of discussion which everybody has been waiting for and I’m very sure that we will all follow what happened when the organised labour at the national level called off their proposed strike to give government time to be able to fine-tune some of these things.
“We are not going to lag behind. Ekiti is a welfarist state and we have a governor with compassion and a very good plan for our workforce. We will do everything possible to ensure our people are okay and happy.’’
Osun and Ogun state governments, however, promised to respond after due contultations with stakeholders in the states.
In Plateau State, the government said the Federal Government cannot dictate what to pay as wage award to its workers
The Commissioner for Information and Communication, Musa Ashoms, said before the federal government made the announcement, the state had commenced the process of alleviating the plights of its workers and other citizens.
He said: “The federal government can’t determine what happens in the state but we have a government that is considerate. Before the federal government made that decision, we had made ours.
“Ours is that we will give palliative to civil servants, we have made plans to reduce school fees for our students, increase bursary to students by 100%.
“We will add N10,000 to the civil servants, even though we have not started implementing but before they announced theirs, we have our own intervention plan we will implement.”
In Abia State, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Alex Otti, Mr. Kazie Uko, said the state government is yet to know the details of the agreement on the proposed wage increase between the federal fovernment and labour and how it will apply to states.
Uko explained that until the details are made clear, there is nothing much the state could do over the issue.
‘He said: “The proposal or offer is still between the federal government and labour unions. Nothing has been presented to the state government yet in that regard. Until such is done, there is nothing the state can do.”
In Cross Rivers State, Governor Basey Otu, said the state is already paying N10,000 wage award to its workers but refused to state whether it would key into the federal government’s N35,000.
“We gave the federal government the example. We have paid our civil servants the sum of N10,000 every month. We are going to keep paying them that for now.”
Similarly, in Delta State, Festus Ahon, Chief Press Secretary to Governor
Sheriff Oborevowori, said: “The Oborevwori administration is committed to the welfare of all Deltans and in line with our M.O.R.E Agenda; we took the lead by approving N10, 000 across the board for all civil servants in the state for three months effective from August.
“The state government also directed the local government councils to replicate the same for their workers. As we speak, the workers have received two tranches — August and September.
“As a government, we will continue to take steps that will ease the sufferings of our people, caused by the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.”
In Edo, the state government said it will consider giving salary awards to its staff in due time but insisted that one way out of the present socio-economic crisis in Nigeria is the devolution of powers to free more funds and responsibilities to states and local government areas.
Andrew Okungbowa, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Godwin Obaseki, said: “Our state currently pays the highest minimum wage of N40,000.
“We have in place our support programme for our people — the free transport scheme and the N500m monthly to be distributed among the poorest of the poor, which will soon come on stream once we re-validate and update our social register.
“Our state will like to do more for our people, depending on the resources at our disposal. The governor will consider the correct response to the salary award by the Federal Government regarding the state workers when the time comes.
“He (the governor) will do more than that award as we are already ahead of the Federal Government and other state governments in our response to the present situation.
“But I must also draw attention to my governor’s insistence on the devolution of powers to both state and local governments to free more funds for development.
“Once that is done, our governor will be in a better position to improve the welfare of our people and development of the state more than he is doing currently.”
In Akwa Ibom State, the Commissioner for Information, Ini Ememobong, and Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Ekerete Udoh, did not respond to the calls and SMS inquiries by one of our reporters.
However, a senior Government House source told Vanguard: “What is the rush? The Federal Government only just made a pronouncement, we know the pressures, but it is not a competition that we must react to.
“Accepting or not accepting, declaring whether Akwa Ibom will pay is not the issue. As a state, we are not acting on impulse. Governor Umo Eno, like his counterparts across the country, understands the challenges of workers’ wages against the rising market prices.
“The state will work within the leverages available to do what she can do, working in agreement and understanding with the workers. That does not require that we play to the gallery on the pages of newspapers.
The Rivers State government is yet to make its position known on the new national minimum wage of N35, 000 for workers announced by the Federal Government.
Though the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Boniface Onyedi, neither picked several calls or responded to a text message to his phone by our reporter, a source at Government House who did not want his name in print, said: “It is too early to seek the state government’s reaction to the decision.”
“There are 36 states in Nigeria. How many of them have reacted to the new wage award so far? It is just too early and I am confident that the governor will come up with something the workers will be proud of.”
He expressed confidence that the “state government will work for the overall happiness of workers by looking into their welfare.”
The source explained that the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, in the state would meet with state and local government workers to intimate them of the latest development, adding that there was need to find out the position of workers on the decision reached between the federal government and organized labour.
In Bayelsa State, a senior government official who pleaded anonymity, said: “It is not a question for us yet. If labour is negotiating with the federal government, states are not negotiating with labour. Remember that states will decide what they want, based on their financial situation.”
In Kano, the state government said it is yet to take a decision on the federal government’s N35,000 wage award.
The Commissioner of Information and Internal Affairs, Baba Halilu Dantiye, said the state is waiting for details of the agreement between the Federal Government and labour.
“We are waiting for the details of the agreement and we will also study it to know the next line of action to take,’’ Dantiye said.
Other contributors to this report: Sam Oyadongha, Wole Mosadomi, Demola Akinyemi, Egufe Yafugborhi, Umar Yusuf, Bashir Bello, Haruna Aliyu, Dennis Agbo, Marie-Therese Nanlong, Ozioruva Aliu, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Rotimi Ojomoyela, Deola Badru, Shina Abubakar, James Ogunnaike, Emma Una, Dan Abia and Ochuko Akuopha