Editorial: When will Rivers start paying new minimum wage?

It is no longer news that the new minimum wage bill has been signed into law. It is also no longer news that states like Lagos and Kaduna have started paying while poorer states like Adamawa and Nassarawa have indicated interests to pay. What is news, however, is the silence of governors from the South-South and South-East regions, especially the oil-rich states.

Many workers in Rivers State have cast doubt over the ability of the Rivers State Government to pay the new minimum wage

Speaking during a courtesy visit by the President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Bobboi Kaigama at the Government House Port Harcourt in November 2018, Governor Nyesom Wike said among other things that whatever minimum wage is finally resolved, the Rivers State Government will pay.

On December 24th 2018, the governor presented the Four Hundred and Eighty Billion Naira 2019 budget before the state house of assembly.

A substantial part of the recurrent budget proposed for 2019 was for the payment of staff salaries and overheads to ministries, departments and agencies to enable them effectively discharge their responsibilities to the people.

A personnel cost of N79, 585,058,808.60 alone constituted about 50 per cent of the entire recurrent expenditure.

The governor said that the increase in the figure for 2019 was as a result of the need to provide for the anticipated increase in the minimum wage for civil servants.

With this, he said, the State Government will be in a position to pay the minimum wage whenever the National Assembly approves it.

“We also made provisions for staff promotion arrears and new recruitments into the State’s civil service”.

On the 18th of April 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the N30,000 minimum wage bill into law but the federal ministry of labour and unions resolved their differences months later.

When will the Rivers State Government begin paying the new minimum wage that it made visions for in the 2019 budget?

Why has the Nigeria Labour Congress’ Rivers State Chapter led by Comrade Beatrice Otubo who repeatedly called for a living wage for workers all of a sudden silent?