President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday gave Nigerian workers a surprise package as he signed into law the new monthly minimum wage of N30, 000 for the least paid employee in the country.
Instead of the May 1, 2019 implementation date sought by the workers, Buhari said that it became effective from yesterday (April 18).
Through his senior special assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, the president said that the payment of the new wage was binding on all employers of labour in the country.
Senator Enang told State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja that the law covers all organisations in the public and private sectors, which have 25 persons and above on their payroll
According to him, the law provides for employees to take legal actions against defaulting employers with a view to compelling them to fully implement its provisions.
Enang disclosed that the new legislation tagged: “Minimum Wage Amendment Act” takes full effect from April 18, 2019 being the day that it was assented to by the president.
He said: “You can see me smiling on behalf of Nigerian workers. President Muhammadu Buhari has assented to the Minimum Wage Repeal and Enactment Act 2019.
“This makes it compulsory for all employers of labour in Nigeria to pay to their workers the sum of N30,000 per month. And this excludes organisations which are employing less than 25 workers, persons who work in a ship which sails out of jurisdiction and other persons who are in other kinds of regulated employment which are accepted by the Act.
“It also gives the workers the right that if you are compelled by any circumstance to accept a salary that is less than N30,000, to sue your employer to recover the balance and authorises the minister of labour and any person nominated by the minister of labour, or any person designated by the minister of labour in any ministry, department or agency to on your behalf, take action in your name against such employer to recover the balance of your wages.
“It also ensures and mandates the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission and the minister or labour to be the chief and principal enforcers of the provisions of this law. And this law applies to all agencies, persons and bodies throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he said.
Asked when the Act would come into effect, Enang said: “The effective date is 18th of April, 2019, as Mr. President has assented to. It has been assented to today and it takes effect today, except such other provisions as are contained in the Act. But the enforcement and the right to start the implementation of the provisions commence today (Thursday), including such steps that are to be taken gradually under the provisions of the Act,” Enang stated.
On what is expected of the workers, the presidential aide said that “I want Nigerian workers to celebrate President Buhari, to support this administration, his policies and of course, we will as a government go out and march together along with Nigerian workers on Workers Day.
“Mr President will celebrate with the workers and the federal government will celebrate. This is Mr. President showing workers the love he has for them and we will match with the Nigerian workers,” he said.
When asked if the new wage covers the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Enang said that “it covers all persons under the Act.”
Meanwhile, the president of the United Labour Congress (ULC), Comrade Joe Ajearo, has commended President Buhari for the signing of the bill into law.
Ajearo told LEADERSHIP Friday in Lagos that though the issue of the minimum wage was long overdue, “we thought that it will take effect from May salary so that workers will know that Buhari’s next level agenda is real.”
He said that workers’ welfare should be taken care off because they need more attention in order to become more productive.
“Minimum wage as an entitlement for workers that is not negotiable,” Ajearo said.