Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party Peter Obi says there is the need for states to determine what they pay their workers based on their realities.
“Minimum wage doesn’t have to be universal,” he said on New Year’s Day during his appearance on Politics Today.
“I don’t believe that somebody In Lagos should earn the same thing as somebody who is in, maybe, Anambra State or somebody in Maiduguri.”
He, however, stressed that it was important to have a federal minimum wage which is the product of proper talks with labour.
If elected, Obi who is the running mate of Atiku Abubakar for the forthcoming Presidential election said, “We will sit down with labour to find a constructive and acceptable decision”.
His views on the matter are not new.
During his tenure as governor of Anambra State, he had expressed them.
“I argued that every state is not the same. I said every state is not the same; every state won’t pay the same,” he said.
What is ideal for him is that: “There has to be a federal minimum, then each state, working within this minimum, can decide where they should go. That is what is obtainable all over the world”.
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Asked what amount he thinks should be a minimum, he stressed that it would be determined at a meeting with labour, if his party wins the election.
“I can tell you this – you know what we are saying here – I am sure we will be able to come out with what is acceptable because I know we will sit down and discuss this constructively with the labour.”
Mr Obi, who condemned the Federal Government’s borrowing plan, argued that the amount spent on infrastructure did not correspond with the level of borrowing.
He rubbished claims that the PDP’s campaign was not working, insisting that such claims were part of efforts to divert attention from the real issues.
“The issue in this campaign is about millions of unemployment Nigerians,” he said, adding, “We have millions of Nigerians who don’t know where the next meal will come from”.
Citing the ongoing ASUU strike, which has grounded academic activities in universities, he said adequate attention was not being paid to critical issues in the country.
The Nigerian civil service is considered bloated and inefficient by many, but Mr Obi is confident that an administration led by him and Atiku can turn it around without much trouble.
“You can make it work; you can make it to be productive,” he said of the civil service.
“There is nothing about being overbloated. Yes, there might be issues but you can make it work. You can decide to make every worker, every employee to be productive.”
That objective, to him, can be achieved by engaging the civil servants, properly, and properly regulate them to ensure everyone feels a sense of purpose.