Buhari’s adviser advocates true federalism, says states should determine own minimum wage

NLC Protest
Photo: Buzz Nigeria
NLC Protest Photo: Buzz Nigeria

The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, Itse Sagay, on Friday said states, and not the federal government, should determine the minimum wage payable to their workers.

Mr. Sagay stated this in his paper at the 20th Wole Soyinka Annual Public Lecture in Benin.

Speaking on the theme, “Nigerian State in the Aftermath of the Centenary: Prospects for its Indivisibility,” Mr. Sagay opposed the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) position that the issue of minimum wage should remain on the exclusive list.

The professor said true federalism should replace the present “suffocating unitary constitution.”

“For the NLC, the federal government should continue to determine for states what minimum wage they should pay to their employees.

“And yet, it is a basic and fundamental aspect of federalism that no federating unit should dictate to or interfere in areas of governance of others.

“A state, no matter how meagre its resources, has to accept the dictates of the federal government on this critical issue of its own internal governance.

“This trade union opposition to federalism is the most shocking of all those resisting the re-introduction of true federalism in accordance with our pre-independence concord.

“The fathers of Nigerian trade unionism were great nationalists and progressives.

‘The latter-day successors are ready to sacrifice the interest of this country for their own narrow and short-term selfish interests.

“Chief Michael Imoudu would disown this anti-federalism position if he were still alive,” he said

Mr. Sagay described the 1999 constitution as essentially the same as a unitary constitution masquerading as a federal constitution.

“This has created the present stagnant, crisis-ridden and dysfunctional geographical entity called modern Nigeria,” he said.

He said the present constitution had made the federal government become the “centre of a titanic and destructive struggle for control.”

He said under such an arrangement, states’ indolence and parasitic tendencies had followed, resulting in an unproductive and under-developed country.

“In our present condition of tight unitarism, any act of misgovernance in Abuja reverberates throughout the country.

‘‘In order words, if Abuja sneezes, the whole country catches cold.

“In a real federation, federal government’s colds begin and end in that government.

“Nigeria’s federating units, whether states or zones, need breathing space from an overbearing federal government.

“The current unitary system is suffocating and preventing the states from enjoying individual autonomy and development. There is stifling uniformity, without unity.

“States are stunted in growth and are perpetually dependent on the Federal Government’s feeding bottle. This has to stop if Nigeria is to ever develop.

“In order words, it is imperative that we return to the 1963 Constitution modified to suit our present circumstance, if we are to co-exist in a stable, crisis free and fast developing Nigeria.

“Nigeria is a country of many nations which had existed independently long before the arrival of the all-conquering colonial power,” he further stated.



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  • thisnigeria

    We will get there soon, one way or the other since the status quo cannot be sustained for much longer.

  • Kickboxer

    “Mr. Sagay described the 1999 constitution as essentially the same as a unitary constitution masquerading as a federal constitution.”

    Seriously? Mr. Sagay, too, now for restructuring?

    Thank you IPOB (Mazi Nnamdi Kanu)………….still, we want OUT!


    Like Bakassi, Nigeria will lose Biafra, no matter how long it will take.


    • Chukwuka Okoroafor

      But Kanu founded Radio Biafra in 2009 and in 2012, he called on Jonathan to stop those who wanted to destroy Nigeria. I don’t see this on the horizon anytime soon at least, maybe ever.

  • Spoken word

    i agree with Sagay

  • The Optimist

    States, and not the federal government, should determine the minimum wage payable to their workers. This is the SOLE truth! It will make the states more competitive and qualified workers will seek for greener pastures within the federation.

  • Ajantala

    Sagay is making a lot of sense. Nigerians want to have all the goodies BUT immediately they are going to be negatively impacted in anyways, you see them crying like little babies. Nigeria is already restructured we just need to convert many items on the Exclusive list to concurrent. How in the world we have 1 single IGP for the whole country? Allow state and even local govt policing. Same for FRSC, Let states compete. There should never be any Federal Universities or Polytechnic. We must get out of these ineffective “cake” sharing. Nigeria can NEVER ever succeed with what we have right now.

  • Gary

    Oga welcome. You folks pick and choose when to be for and against the concept of Restructuring Nigeria for the benefit of everyone.

    We had an accord at Independrnce which Nigeria’s founding fathers all agreed with. Then came the bloody military coups of 1966 and the soldiers jettisoned the compact that all had agreed upon to form the union. All because of Niger Delta oil. Fifty years later of exploiting the resources of only one region by those who had managed to live and develop on their own resources, we are debating what Federalism is all about.
    Osun State is already paying its workers what it can afford: a half wage. The workers, not pensioners, are apparently fine with it since they re-elected the Governor who cut their wages. And have continued to go to work on the new pay scale. So all Rauf Aregbesola has to do now is to formalize the new salary structure. But pay the pensioners their due. That folks, is Restructuring.
    Same thing Bola Tinubu did years ago by Restructuring the Local Government System in Lagos. He created new ones; to the opposition of OBJ who withheld federal subventions to the State. Even after the Supreme Court ruled that Lagos was within its right to create administrative structures and OBJ had no right to withhold the LG funds for the state.
    Mr. Tinubu and his acolytes now say they don’t know what Restructuring means. Because he wants to join his Hausa-Fulani political allies to continue the milking of Niger Delta oil.
    Every region in Nigeria has unexploited mineral resources and agriculture that will sustain it if we group the states into the proposed six or seven regions.

    It is the greed for diminishing oil revenues, at the expense of its owners, that is the real reason behind the opposition to Restructuring. When the oil dries up, will Nigeria cease to exist? Saudi Arabia, yes custodian of Islam and home of Wahabbism, has just announced a ten-year plan to do like Dubai and turn its Red Sea coast into Dubai-style tourist haven. We don’t yet know if people will only be allowed to wear Hijab and Burkas to the beach. But they are planning for a world that is moving away from crude oil. Meanwhile, we are sending Engineers to be killed by Boko Haram Jihadists prospecting for crude oil in the Chad Basin. The billions of NNPC money sunk into the Fools Errand could have been better spent copying what the Kingdom of Morocco has done: they have commissioned the first phase of the largest Solar Power plant in the world on the edge of the same Sahara Desert they share with Nigeria’s Far North. So the North is sitting on its own gold mine as producer of God-given solar power like the Delta has oil. If only the folks up there will think a little and, like Kebbi State, not make a priority of building Mosques and subsidizing pilgrimages.

    So Mr. Sagay, you don’t have to go too far with your “Aha” moment: just send copies of your lecture to your friends Messrs Buhari, Tinubu & Associates, Nigeria Ltd. to wake up and smell coffee.

  • thusspokez

    The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, Itse Sagay, on Friday said states, and not the federal government, should determine the minimum wage payable to their workers.

    This will only drive down wages in Nigeria. It starts with one state setting a very low minimum wage level to attract business — and even lure those in other state to relocate to their low wage state. It becomes a competition for which state has the lowest wage level.

    Also, what happens if an employee of a company in a higher wage state is transferred to the company’s branch office in a low wage state? Will the employee be given a pay cut or pay rise if the transfer is from a low to high wage state? Mr. Sagay, I understand, is neither an economist nor businessman; he is therefore not a qualified authority to speak on the matter.

    • Boss

      I am sure NLC and people like you want restructuring. Your argument really shows that you (and NLC) are not ready for restructuring. A State or Federating unit should have the full powers to govern including deciding wages in its territory. Resource control subject to Federal tax is what obtains in Federal systems i.e. the Central government takes a cut from the resource from every part of the country.
      For all the re-structuring chorus (that now include Babangida and Atiku), you need to come up with the specifics. Chief Anyaoku advocated for the abolition of states in favor of Regions because most of the states are not viable. The state governors only want additional powers while some groups from Benue do not want to return to regional arrangement. State workers do not want the states abolished.
      APC needs to do a better job of bringing to the public domain all these contradicting positions.
      I am for a restructuring that allows resource control, state regulation of wages, security, education within its domain. The Feds will deal with regulation of inter-state commerce, cross-border security, corruption, military, admiralty. etc. State courts will have appellate levels and be final authority on State laws except where the Federal constitution issues are raised. Federal courts will deal Federal laws and the national constitution. Each state will have its own constitution approved by its electorate.
      This is what restructuring is to me.

      • thusspokez

        You are talking in abstract. Could this be, because you are unable to provide concrete counter arguments to the important negatives I gave as examples in my arguments? (Trust the Nigerian to always come up with an emotional response to everything.)

        Mr. Sagay is deliberately being intellectually dishonest by linking the setting of minimum wage with restructuring. I don’t see the correlation between the two; and I have no idea why he think that there exist any, except perhaps that he is following the current fashion trend in Nigeria, namely, his use of the word “restructuring” which is now in vogue in Nigeria, alongside women’s wigs, skinny and ripped trousers.

        Further, it is not a case of ‘national minimum wage’ vs ‘state minimum wage’. They can be mutually inclusive, but in cases of conflict between the two, the higher of the two minimum wages should take precedence.

        Mr. Sagay, a law professional would know that there is nothing in the Nigerian constitution that stops any state from setting its own minimum wage — as long as it is not below the federal minimum wage.

        Even the USA with a federal system has a ‘federal minimum wage’ in addition to some states also having their own minimum wages. So what has any debate on minimum wage got to do with restructuring?

  • Nigerianpiont

    Itse Sagay, Femi Falana and Wole Soyinka are known for double speaking. They make a lot of noise on paper but when it matters most they keep shut. Sagay just found his voice because Buhari is on sick leave. Dont be suprise to see Sagay argue against federalism when Buhari is back.

  • Tha HU

    I totally agree with this, If true Federalism must be achieved then states need to buckle up and not hide behind federal government for any malfeasance in their jurisdictions. State governors have languished in their redundancy for too long. Setting this up will cast an eye on their misconducts and will also allow their denizens to evaluate their viability. This will definitely stir things up in states and I am all for it.