New minimum wage long overdue — Okowa

Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta said on Tuesday the new minimum wage for Nigerian workers was long overdue and urged state governors to implement the N30,000 minimum wage recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Okowa, who spoke with State House correspondents after a private meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, said that he would pay the N30,000 new minimum wage.

He said that the previous minimum wage of N18, 000 was not sustainable.

“We are actually going to pay the N30,000; we had made our statement long before the new minimum wage was even approved.

“ I actually believe that it is long overdue because N18, 000 is definitely not sustainable.

“But I also do believe as I have told my colleagues and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President that this time we must understand what minimum wage is.

“Minimum wage is not supposed to be a general salary increment; those at the bottom of the rung should actually benefit much more than those at the top and it ought to be so.’’

The Governor also said that education was free at the primary and secondary levels in Delta State, hence the recent treatment given to little Success Adegor was unfortunate.

He said the matter was being investigated and many people involved would soon be punished.

“We are doing well in terms of our education but people were quick to talk about the matter but there were two issues that came out from there.

“Corruption was there because asking the child not to take exams except fee were paid was wrong.

“ I know that education at that level is free in Delta State. Disciplinary actions are being taken and a lot of persons are obviously going to be caught up in that trap.

“I know that we run a free education up to secondary school level; so that was wrong.

“People were quick to talk about the picture of the school and I told them, we have 1124 public schools; that’s the primary school; then we have 465 secondary schools.

“If you believe that in just three years we can impact on all the structures then it will be magical but I do know that the schools in delta have a new face.

“We have so many of them that have been rehabilitated and have been put in proper shape and we are continuing with that.’’

The governor said that the state was also doing a lot in the health sector as its health sector reform was addressing issues concerning public health.

He said that the state’s healthcare was driven by the Primary Healthcare Development Agency along with the Local Government Primary Healthcare Authority.

According to Okowa at present Delta is the leading state when it came to the issue of the Health Insurance Policy.

He said that upon his assumption of office, the law on Delta State Contributory Health Commission was made in the first six months.

“Within that law which is already operational starting from January 2017, we are now providing free maternal healthcare services and free under-five healthcare services.

“Not only in our 64 general hospitals but also in 167 primary healthcare centres; we intend to upscale to about 270 functional primary healthcare centres for the purpose of the health insurance.

“The former administration did operate a free maternal and free under-five healthcare because it is in under-five healthcare that you have a lot of malaria and a lot of mortality.

“But what we are doing right now is to ensure that we pay the premiums of these set of vulnerables and they will access healthcare services,’’ he said.

According to him, the state has over 550,000 persons already enrolled in its Health Insurance Policy in two years.

He said he was looking to providing 30 per cent to 40 per cent of Delta indigenes with health insurance in the next four years. (NAN)