Nigeria: FG reiterates commitment to harmonise public workers’ salaries

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WorldStage Newsonline– The Federal Government of Nigeria has reaffirmed its commitment to harmonising salaries of workers in the public sector.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha said at a two-day national forum on compensation management on Monday in Abuja the presidential committee set up for that purpose had commenced work to ensure that all federal workers across board were remunerated appropriately.

The forum was organised by Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS) in collaboration with the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES).

The secretary, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the office of the government of the federation, Dr Maurice Mbaeri said the forum was apt.

He said the theme, “Compensation Management in Nigeria: Resolving Dilemmas, Mainstreaming Milestone’’ came when there was the need to improve workers’ salaries.

Mustapha said President Muhammadu Buhari had always taken the issue of compensation policy very seriously, adding that he had demonstrated that over time.

He said one of the evidences of the Federal Government’s commitment was the fact that it did not retrench any federal worker in spite of the harsh economic situation.

According to him, the Federal Government has ensured implementation of the National Minimum Wage Act, payment of pension, increment of duty tour allowances, and payment of Special COVID-19 allowance among others.

He said the issue of compensation was a recurring decimal in the workplace globally.

He said the issue, which had generated interest overtime, had often pitched social partners and institutional actors in the industrial relations system against one another.

Mustapha said compensation as one of the key elements of relationship had direct relationship with workers’ performance and productivity.

According to him, all these factors are critical to the success of any organisation and the economy at large.

“In Nigeria, at the heart of most industrial challenges is the issue of compensation and remuneration.

“Over the years, industrial sectors and specific enterprises have witnessed mixed reactions in terms of productivity of workers because of incessant industrial actions.

“While some progress has been made by government and other regulatory agencies with respect to establishing certain parameters for effective compensation management, a lot still needs to be done,’’ he said.

He expressed optimism that the discussions that would arise from the two-day workshop would produce policies that would reflect adequate compensation for workers.

Mustapha said government would be ready to make use of the outcome of the forum.

He urged workers to reciprocate government’s gestures by being productive.

The NSIWC Chairman, Mr Ekpo Nta said it was high time recurring compensation crisis was brought to an end.

Nta, who was also the Chairman of the occasion, said there had been lots of infractions on wages that needed to be looked into and resolved accordingly.

On monitoring implementation of personnel cost, Nta said not so much attention had been paid to personnel cost as much as capital budget and overhead cost.

He called for more scrutiny of personnel cost to fish out any form of infraction.

“The personnel cost in the 2023 budget is estimated to gulp about N4.99 trillion and this cannot be ignored.

“I hope at the end of 2023, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) would give us clear analysis of what happens with regard to implementation.

“We have been critical of capital and overhead costs but there is less attention on personnel cost.

“This is because government thinks that everybody on the list collects salaries but that has not been the case,’’ Nta said.

He commended the Federal Government for retaining the workforce in spite of the economic downturn.

While enjoining participants at the forum to air their views to find lasting solutions to the issues, the chairman said it was time to review the country’s compensation policies.

He also said discussion around the review of minimum wage had commenced.

The Director-General of MINILS, Mr Issa Aremu, said the forum was organised in view of recent wave of protests in the world and other factors affecting compensation.

He said there was an urgent need for a review of wage administration, particularly in Nigeria.

While admitting that there were several milestones in that regard in Nigeria, including ratification of “42 international labour treaties since 1960’’, Aremu said more needed to be done to meet up current realities.

The Keynote Speaker, Justice Benedict Kanyip said there was no doubt that compensation administration needed to be reviewed.

Kanyip, who is the President, National Industrial Court of Nigeria, said adequate compensation could motivate employees to work.

He also said that adequate compensation could ensure profitability as well as a productive employee.

Kanyip said unjust or harsh labour condition could lead to unrest, adding that peace could be achieved based on social justice.

According to him, workers have dignity and right and as such must be respected.

He, however, said there was the need for commensurate output from workers in terms of productivity to strike a balance.

The forum had in attendance President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Country Director, International Labour Organisation (ILO) and other critical stakeholders. Meanwhile, the two-day forum has a total of eight sessions, with topics including “Making and Implementing National Wage Laws in the Context of Nigeria’s Diversity and Federal System’’.