David Umahi, governor of Ebonyi state, says he earns a monthly salary of less than N600,000.
The governor said this while discussing the protest by the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) over the minimum wage bill.
The NLC and its affiliated unions embarked on a nationwide protest on Wednesday.
The bill which seeks to decentralise the payment of minimum wage to workers in the country to allow states to pay according to their financial capacity, has passed first and second reading in the house of representatives.
Speaking on the issue, the Ebonyi governor said though he believes in the minimum wage, the NLC should be ready to discuss and negotiate with the governors.
“What we should do is to bring all cards on the table facing up, and then we should be able to discuss. There’s no right thinking person in this country that will say any worker should be paid less than N30k. It doesn’t sound well at all. I support minimum wage whether it’s by legislation or by negotiation. We need as a people, to sit down, and discuss our problems,” he said.
“Labor is not anti-government, they are part of the success of government and of course the failure of government. So it’s important that labor should be able to negotiate with governors.”
When asked if the salaries of governors should also be negotiated like the minimum wage, Umahi said he earns less than N600,000 monthly, and that the country had just 36 governors.
He said governors who had fewer workers will be able to pay better than those who have more.
“I earn less than N600k a month as a governor. And we’re only 36,” he said.
“It brings me to the point I’ve been stressing; if I have 50 thousand workers, and I have X amount that is not likely to increase, compared to a state that has 10 thousand workers, and receiving the same amount. You have to ask yourself who has the ability to pay better. It is the man that has less amount of workers.”
Umahi also said the cry of workers over the non-payment of the minimum wage is disturbing, blaming the inability to pay workers’ wages on the state of the economy.
“I’m in sympathy with labor honestly. When they cry out about people not paying minimum wage, it’s very disturbing because what can N30,000 do for an average worker? But is it the fault of governors and the president? The answer is no. It’s the economic situation and it needs different kinds of engagement,” he said.