Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday presided over the Economic Management Team (EMT) meeting meant to discuss the controversial issue of minimum wage.

The meeting at the Presidential Villa was attended by the following ministers: Zainab Ahmed (finance), Udo Udoma (budget and national planning), Okechukwu Enelamah (industry, trade and investment), Chris Ngige (labour and employment) and the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachukwu.

Others include the executive chairman of National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Richard Egbule; director, General Budget Office, Ben Akabueze; and Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Ali.

Ngige told newsmen last week that he and the chairman of the negotiation team, Ms Amma Pepple (a former Head of Service of the Federation), had briefed President Muhammadu Buhari on the progress made by the committee on the issue, adding that the Special EMT meeting would also focus on minimum wage.

Pepple also hinted that the committee would submit its report this month, adding however that they needed a definite figure from both the federal and state governments to conclude the report.

Ngige recently accused the leadership of the labour unions of blackmailing the government, following a two-week ultimatum given by the unions for the conclusion of negotiation on the matter.

According to the former Anambra State governor, the labour leaders were unnecessarily intimidating government to pass a new minimum wage that it may end up reneging on.

He claimed that the organised private sector had initially proposed a figure of N42,000 but later brought it down to N25,000, taking into account the current economic situation, ability to pay and ability to enhance and create new jobs.

Labour in May 2016 demanded a national minimum wage of N56,000 and later raised it to N65,500.

Buhari, in November 2017, inaugurated the National Minimum Wage Committee with a mandate of arriving at a new national wage.

The Federal Government had assured workers during the 40th anniversary celebration of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in February that workers should expect a new national minimum wage by September.

But labour recently accused the Federal Government of not being sincere in coming up with new minimum wage and warned that it should not be pushed to the wall.

Report of the new minimum wage panel was supposed to be ready by the end of August, but the committee could not round off its negotiation as a result of the sallah holiday.

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