Why Governors Disregard Minimum Wage Law – Labour

Chris Onyeka, Assistant General-Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has pointed out that numerous state governors flout the minimum wage Act due to their lack of belief in the law’s authority.

Onyeka expressed this concern in Abuja on Monday during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) regarding the implementation of the minimum wage law.

Despite workers eagerly awaiting the enactment of a new minimum wage, 15 states have yet to enforce the N30,000 wage stipulated since 2019.

Despite the increased revenues accruing to states following the removal of fuel subsidies, and the attendant hardships caused by the resulting rise in fuel prices, these states remain defiant in paying their workers the minimum wage.

States that have yet to implement the minimum wage, in defiance of the 2019 Act, include Abia, Bayelsa, Delta, Enugu, Nasarawa, Adamawa, Gombe, Niger, Borno, Sokoto, Anambra, Imo, Benue, Taraba, and Zamfara.

“A state governor who does not respect the sanctity of laws is more likely to disobey them,” Onyeka remarked.

“If you examine the background of some of these governors and their aides, you’ll find many who ascended to power by flouting laws. So, why would they now comply with the national minimum wage act?”

The labour leader emphasized that many governors are reluctant to pay civil servants because they perceive state resources as their personal property and are unwilling to share with the workers who generate wealth.

“Some governors erroneously believe that workers’ salaries can be delayed or tampered with without consequences, hence they do not prioritize them,” he added.

However, Onyeka stressed that workers are human beings with basic needs that depend on their salaries.

He highlighted that fiscal indiscipline is rampant in many states, driven by the personal greed of some governors who divert state resources for personal gain.

Onyeka reiterated the urgent need to reduce the cost of governance across all levels and eliminate wastage. He proposed measures such as reducing the number of political appointees and streamlining procurement processes for integrity, accountability, fiscal discipline, and transparency.

“Governors should align the salaries and allowances of elected and appointed officials with what civil servants receive,” he recommended.

To enforce compliance with the minimum wage law, Onyeka advocated for deploying principles of law enforcement, including sequestering federal allocations to states known for habitual violations until they comply.

He also called for empowering and supporting labour unions in their efforts to ensure compliance, emphasizing the need for a strengthened judiciary, particularly the National Industrial Court, to issue enforceable orders against erring state governments.

“On the issue of strikes, it is the right of organized labour, and the federal government must protect workers who exercise this legal right,” he concluded.


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