State governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum have said that they can no longer pay the N18,000 minimum wage.
According to them, the minimum wage was imposed on them when oil sold for $126 as against the present price of $41 per barrel.
This was one of the outcomes of the forum’s meeting held on Wednesday evening inside the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The meeting ended in the early hours of Thursday.
The NGF Chairman, Abdul’aziz Yari of Zamfara State, said the way out of the situation was the diversification of the economy with attention to agriculture and mining.
The governor said, “We resolved that we must look at ways to enhance revenue generation and at the same time look at ways to cut our overhead costs, more especially the political office holders’ salaries and other overhead expenses.
“The situation is no longer the same compared to when we were asked to pay N18,000 minimum wage, when oil price was $126 (per barrel) and continued paying N18,000 minimum wage when the oil is $41, and the source of government expenditure is oil, and we have not seen prospects in the oil industry in the near future.”
Supporting the NGF position, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State told journalists that there was no way the country could continue with a situation where expenditure was more than income.
“We are faced with a situation where we either have to reduce cost through salary reduction or downsize. All these we don’t want to do but prefer to have a roundtable with the President, ministers and economists to look for means of getting out of this problem,” he said.
Yari added, “We will diversify our economy in the area of agriculture and mining. But at the same time, we should understand our situation where some of us (states) today are taking N100m home (monthly allocation) and we have salaries of over N2bn to pay.
“We, therefore, agreed here to take this suggestion to NEC in our meeting on Thursday so that we can be able to find ways to tackle this problem.
“And we are looking at coming together to discuss with Mr. President and his team – with governors, technocrats and experts in the economy – to see how we can tackle our troubled situation. We are working harder to deal with it.”
The governors also called on the Federal Government to ensure that MTN Nigeria paid in full the N1.04tn fine imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission.
The NCC had imposed the fine on the firm for not deactivating unregistered Subscriber Identification Module cards of subscribers.