Buhari receives Prince Charles in Aso Rock

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…Says: I’m fully committed to having new National Minimum Wage***

President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday in Abuja, received the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla, at the Presidential Villa.

They arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja and were driven into the State House premises at 2:20pm in a motorcade with the President on hand to receive them, and thereafter preceded straight for the closed-door meeting with the President.

In the welcome party were top officials of government, including the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, among others.

Prince Charles was on his first leg of a week-long African tour aimed at strengthening ties with Commonwealth nations. The Prince of Wales took over as head of the 53-member Commonwealth of Nations in April, succeeding his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

As Britain prepares to leave the European Union in 2019, the Prince aims to “celebrate the UK’s dynamic, forward-looking partnerships” with Commonwealth nations.

After the closed-door meeting, there was no official statement from the government as at the time of filing this report.

In the meantime, President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday expressed his commitment to ensuring the implementation of a new National Minimum Wage.

Buhari said this in Abuja on Tuesday while receiving the report of the Tripartite Committee on the Review of National Minimum Wage from the committee’s chairman, Amal Pepple at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He expressed delight that the committee had successfully completed its assignment in a peaceful and non-controversial manner.

He revealed that the Federal Government would soon transmit an Executive bill (on National Minimum Wage) to the National Assembly for its passage within the shortest possible time.

“Our plan is to transmit the Executive bill to the National Assembly for its passage within the shortest possible time.

“I am fully committed to having a new National Minimum Wage Act in the very near future.

“Let me use this opportunity to recognise the leadership of the organized labour and private sector as well as representatives of State and Federal Governments for all your hard work.

“The fact that we are here today, is a notable achievement.

“As the Executive Arm commences its review of your submission, we will continue to engage you all in closing any open areas presented in this report.

“I, therefore, would like to ask for your patience and understanding in the coming weeks.”

The President, however, enjoined the leadership of the labour unions as well as the Nigerian workers to avoid being used as political weapons.

He explained that the exercise had become necessary for many reasons, saying that the last review took place in 2011.

“We all know since then, the prices of key consumables have increased and the most vulnerable of our workers are struggling to make ends meet.

“Since 2011, many changes have taken place. Nigeria re-based its GDP to become the largest economy in Africa. We reported very strong GDP growth rates and exceptional performance of our capital markets.

“However, these reported successes did not flow into the pockets and homes of majority of Nigerians.

“In the last three years, we focused on correcting this deficiency. We are working to create a diversified and inclusive economy,’’ he said.

Buhari further said that his administration had been pushing to clear pension arrears owed retired workers with the limited resources available to it, just as it had been supporting state governments to pay workers’ salary.

“I am not surprised that the committee has worked for close to one year. I am also not surprised that on a few occasions, the debates got heated and sometimes, these differences came out.

“What is truly inspiring is that, in almost all instances of disagreements, the committee members always came back to the negotiating table with a common goal of improving the welfare of Nigerian workers.

“On behalf of all Nigerians today, I want to thank you for your commitment and sacrifice in getting us to where we are today,’’ he said.

“On the side of labour, the points raised focused on the need for any increase to be meaningful.

“In a way, both arguments are valid. I want to assure you all that we will immediately put in place the necessary machinery that will close out these open areas,’’ he said.

In her remarks, Pepple explained that the recommendation made by the committee was predicated on the high cost of living, occasioned by the exchange rate as well as the rising inflation rate in the country.

“We believe that the implementation of the recommended minimum wage, will, no doubt, boost the purchasing power of workers, increase consumption expenditure and ultimately stimulate business and overall economic growth.”

“The committee has also produced a Draft National Minimum Wage Bill 2018 for consideration by the government.

“We strongly believe that the enactment of the draft bill into law is very critical to the operation and future reviews of the National Minimum Wage,’’ she said.

Additional report from Vanguard