Minimum Wage: Workers must smile before 2019 elections – Ngige

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, says the Buhari administration is a labour friendly government, which is determined to put smiles on the faces of Nigerian workers before 2019 elections.

Ngige stated this when he alongside the Chairman of the National Minimum Wage Negotiation Committee, Ms Amma Pepple, addressed State House correspondents on the outcome of their closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Ngige and Pepple had briefed the president on the progress so far made by the Pepple’s committee, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday.

According to the minister, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, will on Sept. 18, preside over the meeting of the Economic Management Team, which will be solely dedicated to the contentious issue of minimum wage.

He said: “Next week we have an economic management team meeting on Tuesday, specially dedicated to the issue of national minimum wage to be chaired by the Vice President.

“For anybody to say that this government is stalling or playing games will be uncharitable, because, we have done what we are supposed to do.

“We have the interest of workers at heart, we have not retrenched anybody, there is no embargo on employment, there is no embargo on promotions, we are paying backlog of promotional arrears, we are backing backlog of transfers and repatriation and the rest of them and we are giving them houses under FISH and the rest of them.

“So this government is a labour friendly government and we must put smiles on their faces before the next election; we are labour activists we don’t want to turn our backs on them.’’

Pepple, a onetime Head of Service of the Federation, told the correspondents that the committee would submit its report on or before Sept. 30.

She, however, maintained that the committee needed a definite figure from the government.

According to her, everything is on course but we need a definite figure from the government and of course we have to carry the states along.

“So, we need those figures so that we can conclude on the figures to include in our report.

“At least, I expect our report to be ready this month. We are submitting our report to Mr President this month.”

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) had on Wednesday issued a two-week ultimatum to government to conclude all negotiations on the national minimum wage or risk industrial action.

But, while reacting to the threat by the organised labour, Ngige accused them of blackmailing the government.