Akwa Ibom State is wealthy enough and, therefore, should not be struggling to pay the N30, 000 minimum wage to workers in the state civil service, the state branch of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said.
The NLC across Nigeria has been agitating for the implementation of the new minimum wage signed into law in April this year by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The labour union and the federal government just struck a deal over the implementation on October 18, after several days of negotiations.
In a letter to the Akwa Ibom governor, Udom Emmanuel, the NLC state chapter noted that, on per capita basis, only Bayelsa State surpasses Akwa Ibom State in terms of Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) receipts.
“The state’s average monthly FAAC receipts for 2018 was larger than the combined average monthly allocations to Adamawa, Jigawa, and Kogi states,” the NLC said, arguing that Akwa Ibom should be among the first set of states in Nigeria to pay the new minimum wage.
The letter, signed by the NLC chairman in the state, Sunny James, has just been made available to PREMIUM TIMES.
The workers in the state, led by their union leaders, marched through the streets on October 10 to present the letter at Government House, Uyo.
They also marched to Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly where they presented a copy of the letter to the Speaker, Aniekan Bassey.
The NLC said in the letter that the workers had the assurance from Mr Emmanuel during this year workers’ day celebration that Akwa Ibom was prepared to be “the pioneer in paying the new minimum wage once it was passed into law”.
“As at today, the governments of Kaduna and Ekiti states have respectively become the first and the second state governments to implement the new wage. We hope Akwa Ibom would not lose the third position,” the workers said in the letter.
“From available statistics, while Kaduna which has paid the new minimum wage has to bear the burden of funding 4,225 public primary schools, Akwa Ibom, in spite of its comparatively superior financial position, needs to cater for only 1,160 public primary schools.
“There is every reason, therefore, to believe that the state is favourably positioned to pay the new minimum wage given its superior revenue base and comparatively slim workforce.
“The NLC calls on His Excellency to kindly do the needful in this regard.”
The Akwa Ibom government has repeatedly said it would pay the new minimum wage and has set up an implementation committee to that effect.
“I want to assure you that the Akwa Ibom government will implement the new minimum wage bill which was recently signed into law by the President after you have done all your own side of the necessary documentation,” Governor Emmanuel had told the workers at the May Day rally in Uyo.
The head of the civil service in Akwa Ibom, Effiong Essien, told journalists recently that the state government was going to commence the payment of the minimum wage as soon as labour and the federal government come up with a “template”.
“The governor is sincere about it,” Mr Essien said.