By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has approved the Federal Government nominees for the proposed review of the National Minimum Wage, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has said.
Senator Ngige who disclosed this to State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said that the Committee will soon be inaugurated.
Nigige, told journalists that he was at the State House to brief President Buhari on happenings in his ministry, even as he enthused that the Federal Government has made a great stride in creating jobs for the teeming populace.
According to him, at the inception of the administration, President Buhari promised to address issues on minimum wage, adding that with the approval of members of the Committee, the date for the inauguration of the committee would be determined as soon as members of the organised labour return from the meeting of the Labour Governing Board in Geneva, Switzerland.
He said, “When we came to power in 2015, there was a minimum wage, and by May 2016, we now had a deregulation in the petroleum industry and prices of petroleum products went up and we started discussions with the organised Labour.
“One of the agreements was that the issue would be addressed. The old law expired last year August and we are now in the process of empaneling a new national minimum wage committee.
“I have cleared the appointments with the president today and as soon as the Labour people come back from the Labour Governing Board meeting in Geneva, we will take a consensus date with the governors because it is a tripartite committee involving federal and states, the private sector – National Employment Consultative Agency (NECA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). These are the arms that will be involved. Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), their affiliates have done their nominations. What we are now trying to finetune is the date for inauguration.”
The Minister said discussion with the affected parties would decide whether the N56,000 minimum wage being demanded by the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, will be achievable, adding that, various jobs had been created by the agricultural policy of this government and that between five to seven million jobs have so far been created.
He said, “This is the first major opportunity we had to brief Mr. President especially as we had a harvest of strikes in September. So, we had to look at where we are and also look at where we are in terms of job creation, Labour administration and the issue of national minimum wage, which Labour has been asking the government to set in motion the process.
“We promised jobs but what has happened is that people tried to quantify jobs in terms of white collar jobs for graduates from universities, polytechnic but they don’t want to look at the blue collar jobs. Agriculture and agric chains alone have created more than 5-7 Million jobs. Talk in terms of rice. From rice tilling, harvesting, sending to the paddies, mills, and even where people are making the jut bags, transportations, people are getting jobs. So, that value chain alone from agric is enormous.
“Take the N-power, we have created millions of jobs from here. Skill acquisition from the NDE and other agencies of government, jobs are being created. We give them tools as plumbers, electricians ,cosmetologists, shoe makers, tilers and several other areas. We have created several jobs.”