Nobody is Reducing Minimum Wage, Says FG
Posted: 23/Dec/2015

The federal government yesterday insisted that government was not going to temper with the current minimum wage, but would rather concentrate on scaling up employment opportunities for Nigerian youth.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, stated this yesterday when he received the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in his office.

He explained that the issue of minimum wage was a no-go-area in terms of reducing the current N18,000. The assurance by the federal government is coming on the heels of the ongoing bickering between the NLC and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) over minimum wage. The latter had threatened to retrench workers should the NLC oppose the NGF plan to reduce minimum wage across the states.

Addressing the labour leaders, Ngige assured the NLC delegation that the federal government was against the clamour for the reduction of the minimum wage. “Anybody who wants to talk about minimum wage should go to the National Assembly. Or he or she should seek President Muhammadu Buhari’s support for an executive bill to the National Assembly. Let us leave the sleeping dog to lie; nobody is reducing minimum wage, if you have more, you pay more,” Ngige said.

The minister observed that government  would set up a workable plan to tackle challenges of unemployment in the country, stressing that, “unemployment is the easiest promoter of instability and insecurity in the country.”

Ngige who received the NLC leadership in company of the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, James Ocholi (SAN) informed the gathering that the federal government would review major labour laws to prevent abuse of Nigerians.

He said the ministry had been mandated to review some of the laws to stop ‘casualisation’ adding that: “Government frowns at casualisation, that people are not employed do not mean you should underemployed them – the private sector are guilty here. They cannot settle anybody this side,” the minister maintained.

Speaking, the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said the body would continue to collaborate with government to ensure harmony in the labour sector. He further presented two reports with the objective of ensuring industrial harmony.

Meanwhile, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, in a meeting with the minister, expressed great concern over the high level of unemployment in the country, particularly, among the youth.

According to him, though Nigerian youth have been excelling across board, the problem of unemployment remains the greatest challenge confronting the country. He said since the last two years that he has been in the country, he is overwhelmed by the diverse culture, strength and intelligence of the youth, adding: “I am very struck by how young Nigerians don’t have jobs,” Entwistle said. The US envoy further urged the government to consider creating conducive platform for the private sector, as it remains the touchline for sustainable development and job creation, stating that what is needed is “a welcoming and opened atmosphere for foreign investment to thrive.”

The ambassador assured the minister that the US government is ready to assist Nigeria in various areas such as investment, labour relations among others.

By Paul Obi
Source: This Day