Abuja (Nigeria) — Governor Abdul’aziz Yari of Zamfara State, who is also Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) Thursday denied plans by state governors to stop payment of N18,000 minimum wage to civil servants.
The governors had last month indicated interest to cut down salaries of workers, or reduce staff strength due to revenue shortfall, but the workers union have vowed a total shutdown of government, if the governors go ahead with their plans.
He told journalists, after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja that the governors were only concerned with the poor state of the economy and how they could seek alternative ways to cushion the effects of the dwindling oil revenues, arising from low price of crude at the international market.
“All through in the decision we never said that we are going to stop the payment of N18,000 minimum wage but we are looking at the situation in the country and in the global economy.”
“What we said is that when the National Assembly enacted the law of paying N18,000 minimum wage, then oil was about $118 per barrel and today where we are, oil is $41 per barrel.”
“Let me make it very clear to Nigerians, Governor’s Forum is not the enemy of labour in any way.”
He said the governors have only raised the concern that if the states continue with the current situation, they would in the near future find it difficult to meet up with their financial obligations.
“So, if it continues like that, definitely we will find it difficult to continue. We have to sit down with the labour and see how we can review, either continue or downsizing or what we are going to do.”
“We want to find a solution because we have to be realistic that we have so many things to touch.
“There is infrastructure deficit, there is need for security, there are other things like social lives of our people and nation as a state,” he added.
Yari lamented that the receipt from federation account alone was not enough to meet numerous demands, saying some people received N400 million, N500 million, others received N55 million, two digits.
“We are telling the public that we are planning to sit down with the President and his team and the state governors as a team and the experts to come out with the way forward and how we are going to handle the poor state of the economy in the country.
“Therefore we are saying that we should tighten our belts. Something definitely, we should sit down and come out of it to find a way we are going to do it realistically or otherwise.”
He tasked voters in Bayelsa and Kogi states to come out en mass and vote, adding that democracy has come to stay in Nigeria.
“people should turn out en masse and vote to do their own constitutional or legitimate rights to choose their leadership.
“As the president is saying that he wants to leave the legacy of a good election because he was one of the beneficiaries of a good election.
So, it is no longer going to be business as usual where the security will be the people to do the election, but rather to safeguard the interest of the public. ” Yari said.