OrderPaperToday – Buffeted by a massive protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the National Assembly has hinted that it will ‘kill’ the bill seeking to remove minimum wage for workers from the exclusive to the concurrent legislative list.
Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr. Alhassan Ado Dogowa, gave the hint on Wednesday while addressing members of the NLC who besiezed the National Assembly in their numbers to protest the bill.
Recall that the controversial bill was passed for second reading two weeks ago amidst stiff opposition from a cross section of members in the House.
The bill which is sponsored by Mr. Garba Mohammed Datti (APC, Kaduna) seeks to allow state governments fix minimum wage for workers in their various states. Mr. Datti argued that all 36 states were not equally endowed in terms of economic viability and therefore each should be allowed to pay a minimum wage according to their capacity.
Presenting a letter from the NLC to the National Assembly, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, its president, said the thought of the bill was evil and malicious against the Nigerian worker.
He said it took organized labour several years with the instrumentality of the House of Representatives to get the minimum wage passed at N30,000.00 and that it will be unfair to remove the matter from the exclusive list.
Addressing the lawmakers, he said: “We are here again on behalf of Nigeria workers, on behalf of Nigeria pensioners. We are going to resist the anti-progress, anti-minimum wage bill, anti-people bill sponsored by Honourable Mohammed Datti.
“It is a dirty bill and we will resist it to the last level. We have to make it clear and unambiguous that the bill that seeks to remove the minimum wage from the exclusive list to the concurrent list is not accepted. Let me say that the issue of national minimum wage is a standard set by the International Labour Orgaiznation (ILO). It is the first agency of the United Nations born in 1919 after the First World War. So we have the powers of the United Nations.”
The protesting NLC members refused to pay attention to some lawmakers led by Senator Abdullahi Sabi (Niger, APC) who came to address them initially and could be heard shouting “ole ole, ole ole, didn’t the bill pass through you? Why did you have to wait for us to come in here under the sun to address us? We no go gree oo we no go gree.”
They later granted listening ears to Mr. Ado-Doguwa reiterated who said he had the mandate of the National Assembly leadership to address the workers.
“I am representining the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, who unfortunately is not in town at the moment. We are here to represent the joint leadership of the National Assembly under the Senate President, Amed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila,” he told the workers, adding:
“May I say a big thank you to the organized labour and the general membership of labour for deciding to come and air your grievances in the right quarters. You are in the right place and the right institution which is a representative of the general membership of organized labour in Nigeria.
“May I say on behalf of my speaker and the entire members of the House of Representatives that we are also by extension members of the organized labour. We are your employees. By this implication whatsoever is the interest and yearnings of Nigerian workers, we would be willing to oblige.
“I therefore say on behalf of the Speaker and the House that we have accepted to kill the bill. There would be an opportunity for you to come and address us during the public hearing. That initiative is only an opinion. The recommendation of that bill is only a proposal. From what I am seeing now it clear that organized labour are against that bill. I want to assure you that the House of Reps would give a listening ear to your message.
“We will still invite you to come and engage with the relevant committee of which I am a member. You will come and make your position fully. Your position will be heard at the committee level and when we come to plenary to consider the bill, members that are representing your respective communities, would engage with them to do justice to the Bill and I can understand that the only justice would be to kill the bill.
“I want to advise please, lobby members that you elected that you do not want the bill and members will make sure the bill is killed”, Ado-Doguwa reiterated.