Accept My Sympathy, Buhari Tells Oyegun Over Atiku’s Exit

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President Muhammadu Buhari has reacted to the exit of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar from the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The president’s reaction came just before the inauguration of the Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage in Abuja on Monday.

Turning to John Odigie-Oyegun, Buhari said, “Accept my sympathy for losing a senior member of your party.”

Although Buhari did not mention any name, it was obvious that he was referring to Atiku whose exit from the ruling party broke on Friday even though he had parted ways with the party more than a month ago.

Atiku, who may be gunning for the presidency in 2019, has since begun a rapprochement with Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Emerging fact indicates that he has made up his mind to rejoin PDP and has actually commenced consultations with leaders of the party on how to make the switch a smooth one. He was vice president on the platform of the party from 1999 – 2007.

Atiku lost to President Buhari in the APC presidential primaries organised for the 2015 general elections.

He came a distant third behind Rabiu Kwankwaso, former Kano State governor, despite being a favourite for the ticket.

Soon after that unexpected teaser from President Buhari, they moved on to a more serious state business.

As it turned out, it was a good day for Nigerian workers as the president’s next action indicated that their agitations for new minimum wage – which had raged on for months – had proved effective.

The Federal Government decided to inaugurate a Tripartite Minimum Wage Committee to explore the possibility of implementing the N56,000 national minimum wage.

This was the culmination of campaigns by workers’ unions, especially the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC).

President Buhari inaugurated the committee at the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja, where he noted that government had come to a realisation that there was a need to ensure a fair and decent living wage for workers.

Buhari said the committee was being inaugurated in line with the provisions of the International Labour Organisation Minimum Wage Fixing Convention No. 131 and Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery Convention No.26 (ratified by Nigeria).

It would be recalled that owing to rising inflation and value erosion of the N18,000 minimum wage, the NLC and TUC had spearheaded the clamour for the review of the national minimum wage, proposing a N56,000 wage bill.

Calls for a review of wages were heightened at the inception of the Buhari administration, but it came to a climax when the Federal Government took a step to fully deregulate the downstream oil sector.

In anticipation of the severe impact of the new policy on the Nigerian worker, the government set up a technical committee “to examine and make recommendations to government on the measures to be adopted to cushion the envisaged painful effects of the increase on workers and the Nigerian populace at large.”

While inaugurating the committee, Buhari acknowledged that the old minimum wage of N18, 000 had expired, and urged the committee, headed by former Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Ama Pepple, to ensure that the re-negotiation for a new minimum wage was thorough.

According to the president, the Nigerian workforce had become a vital element in the growth and development of the nation.

The president said, “Like his counterpart all over the world, the Nigerian worker is a vital element in the growth and development of modern nations.

“I, therefore, welcome the nominees of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Committee who have been selected for the very important task of renegotiating the National Minimum Wage for our workers.

“We all know that the last minimum wage instrument has expired, and it is in recognition of the need to ensure a fair and decent living wage that the Federal Government put in motion necessary mechanism so that we can today inaugurate this large committee with a big task ahead of you.

“You are all aware that during the period following the increase in petrol pump price in May 2016, a technical committee was established to examine and make recommendations to government on the measures to be adopted to cushion the envisaged painful effects of the increase on workers and the Nigerian populace at large.

“During the deliberations of the technical committee which comprised government and organised labour, the need for the review of the National Minimum Wage was highlighted and recommendation to set up a committee to look into the level of minimum wage was made accordingly.

“I am glad that the recommendation is being acted upon today and we can all acknowledge that this is in line with our democratic process. I wish to thank all those who participated in that exercise.

“Considering the scope of the membership of this new National Minimum Wage Committee, we can see that it is encompassing all stakeholders.

“My hope is that the outcome of the deliberations of the committee would be consensual and generally acceptable.

“I, therefore, urge you to amicably consider the issue of a National Minimum Wage and all matters that are ancillary to it with thoroughness and concern not only for the welfare of our workforce but the effect on the country’s economy.

“The subject of a National Minimum Wage for the federation is within the Exclusive Legislative List of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“Accordingly, we should aim to go above the basic social protection floor for all Nigerian workers based on the ability of each tier of government to pay.”

President Buhari last week approved the setting up of the Tripartite National Minimum Wage Committee.

 

Read more from the publisher: Independent Nigeria

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