The chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi, on Monday, met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.
Mr Fayemi spoke to journalists after the meeting.
Although he did not disclose what he discussed with the president, Mr Fayemi answered questions on his role in resolving the Kano emirates’ crisis and the crisis in the Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress.
He also spoke on the new minimum wage for workers.
Q: May we know what brought you here sir?
Fayemi: Well, it is a routine visit. From time to time I come to see the President on behalf of my colleagues to discuss matters of state.
Q: You are a member of the Committee set up to reconcile the Emir of Kano and Governor Ganduje, what do we expect from you, sir?
Fayemi: Well, the committee has just started its work. You may recall that I have been involved in resolving the problem we have in Kano for some time. I have had cause as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum of working with some key stakeholders in Kano to bring both parties together and what we are doing now is essentially an expanded committee of the elders chaired by the former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar and comprising very distinguished Nigerians. And from our forum, myself and Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State are also members of the committee.
We already held preliminary discussions with both parties and we know that they are both desirous of peace in Kano. We have also briefed Mr President on the mission of this body. It is not a federal government body, I must say that. But the federal government, that is Mr President, is not averse to anything that could assist in ensuring that there is peace in one of the most political states in our country.
Anything to avoid a volatile situation that may result in an unfortunate development is wanted and it is our expectation that, given the positive response from both His Excellency the governor, Dr Ganduje, and the Emir of Kano, we would come to a resolution of the problem.
Q: Is it possible to solve the problem?
Fayemi: If it is not possible we won’t even be doing this. Everybody is concerned. Kano is the hotbed of politics in this country. Kano is our own flagship state in APC. But this is not just a party issue, the people that are involved in this primarily are not politicians. The only reason why we are involved is of course because governor Ganduje is our colleague in the Nigeria Governors Forum and we are desirous of pushing for peace. Just as we are doing this, we are interested in what is happening between our brothers in Rivers and Bayelsa because anything of this nature affects the solidarity in the forum. So we want to make sure that our forum is one in a non-partisan developmental manner and if there is anything that is amiss, it is my duty and responsibility as the Chairman of the forum to bring about peace where possible.
Q: What are you doing on the situation in Edo State?
Fayemi: Crisis management in the governors’ forum is not a television matter. I can assure you that we are fully seized of what is happening in Edo State and at the level of the party governors forum, we have engaged both parties. We hosted both parties, we appealed to them and their supporters, we have taken steps and we are still taking steps to ensure that peace reigns in Edo State. But that is not the matter for the Nigeria Governors Forum, its more of a party political issue but we are involved in that at the level of the party.
Q: What is the position on the review of the revenue sharing which was one of the conditions NGF gave in accepting the new minimum wage?
Fayemi: A review of the revenue sharing formula is still the position of the Nigeria’s Governors’ Forum. We feel that it is time for the revenue sharing formula to change and we have made a representation to the President and Commander-in-Chief not just under the Buhari’s administration, this has been an ongoing agitation that started way back since the time of President Olusegun Obasanjo. It continued under President Yar’Adua and President Goodluck Jonathan. So, it’s not just something that has been brought out under President Buhari.
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And you also know that there is a process to this. The process is that the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), which has the responsibility for this, would do its own due diligence, consult widely with critical stakeholders. And we have also made available our own representation to RMAFC. Every state has a representative at RMAFC as you know. And only last week, RMAFC held a retreat on this and other matters and I believe they will communicate the position.
Now that we have a full-fledged RMAFC in place with a Chairman and other members appointed, it is our expectation that this would be taken up by RMAFC with Mr President in a manner that we have taken it up.
Whether that would affect negotiation for the minimum wage, I can tell you no. Minimum wage is a law. But as I have always said to you, a national minimum wage Act is not a general minimum wage review. They are two separate things. Governors are committed to the minimum wage Act and no one is going to pay anything less than N30, 000. Some of us have started paying N30, 000 as you may be aware, others want negotiations on the consequential adjustment to end before they start paying the minimum wage.
And as you may be aware, what has happened so far is that the Federal Government has agreed on a percentage of consequential adjustment with labour. What is happening currently in states, and the majority of our states have started that negotiation, is to agree what that consequential adjustment would be in the state.
I have also said to many people who have asked me, fingers are not equal at the level of the states. So, a consequential adjustment may not necessarily end up being the same, it will be different from state to state. We are not going to adopt hook, line and sinker what has been adopted between federal government and labour, that is for federal government workers. What happens in the states is a different matter. But I can assure Nigerians that no state is going to pay anything less than N30, 000.