The House of Representatives has approved the sum of N30,000 as the new national minimum wage.
The approval followed the adoption of the report by the ad hoc committee set up on the New Minimum Wage Bill presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday.
Buhari had in the executive bill sought the approval of N27,000 as against the N30,000 agreed upon by stakeholders.
The committee held a public hearing on the bill, where the Federal Government and state governors insisted on the N27,000 proposed in the bill but the Organised Labour and the Organised Private Sector insisted on N30,000.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, had at the hearing said the states, which had earlier proposed N22,000, had now concurred with the Council of State on N27,000.
The lawmakers amended Clause 3(1).
The old version read, “As from the commencement of this bill, every employer, except as provided for under this bill, shall pay a wage not less than a national minimum wage of N27,000 per month to every worker under his establishment.”
The amended version reads, “As from the commencement of this bill, every employer, except as provided for under this bill, shall pay a wage not less than a national minimum wage of N30,000 per month to every worker under his establishment.”
The lawmakers also amended Clause 10(2) to raise the fine for non-compliance with the proposed law by an employer.
It now reads, “Any employer who fails to comply with the provisions of the sub-clause 1 of this clause commits an offence and is liable on conviction to (a) a fine not exceeding N75,000 (against the N5,000 earlier proposed) and (b) an additional penalty not exceeding N10,000 for each day the offence continues.”
The Deputy Speaker, Mr Yusuf Lasun, who chaired the committee, explained why the lawmakers chose to accept the workers’ demand.
Lasun said, “Sometime last week, the executive sent a bill to amend some sections of the Principal Act of the Minimum Wage Act, of which one of the most important amendments that we are about to carry out is moving the minimum wage from N18,000 to N27,000 that was recommended in the bill.
“We had a public hearing which was aired live and it was there and then that we realised that the tripartite committee that was set up by Mr President actually did recommend N30,000 as the minimum wage. It was a public hearing that was well attended.
“Everybody is of the opinion that the time is right and that it is even overdue. So, in the executive bill that the executive sent, the only thing that was touched is the minimum wage itself.”
The Deputy Speaker however noted that the proposed salary increment would now put all workers under tax net, especially those in the lower grade levels whose annual incomes fell below margin.
Our correspondent observed that the committee only adopted two of the four amendments requested by the workers as presented by the Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Mr Ayuba Wabba, at the hearing.
The amendments adopted were those on wage increment and fine.