774,000 Jobs: Labour Minister, Ngige Apologises To National Assembly

The Minister of Labour, Productivity and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has apologised to the National Assembly over the recent face-off between the Minister of State For Labour, Festus Keyamo and the joint Senate and House Committees on Labour, Productivity and Employment.

The Minister tendered an apology on Tuesday when he led a delegation from the Ministry on a visit to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, at the National Assembly, Abuja.

“We deeply regret the incident that happened, the altercation that followed it, between my Minister of State and members of the Joint Committee,” Ngige was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the spokesman to the Senate President, Ezrel Tabiowo.

The Minister noted that his visit was to give the lawmakers the necessary information needed to fast-track the Special Public Works Programme of the Federal Government.

Ngige also called for a good working relationship between the legislative and executive arms of government on the programme which he said was designed from the office of the President before the COVID-19.

READ ALSO: Kidnapped Delta NLC Chairman Regains Freedom

“Having visited your domain to the Joint Committee on Labour, Productivity and Employment over some issues of the Special Public Works Programme of the Federal Government, a programme that was designed by the Executive with the legislature, if the Executive makes a proposal and it is not funded, then that proposal will be dead on the table.

“Therefore, we decided that as a team, we would come with full force and give the necessary information that we need so that we can fast track this Programme which was designed from the office of the President before the COVID-19.

“We must work together without acrimony or even drawing a very rigid line of who has this power and who doesn’t. That is the only way the programmes of government can be made sustainable and executed for the benefit of our people.

“In the Seventh Senate, the National Assembly didn’t have a rancorous relationship with the Executive of Ebele Jonathan, even though some of us were in the opposition parties,” he said.

FG Releases N4.5bn To 31 Federal Teaching, Medical Centres

The Federal Government has released the sum of N4.5 billion to 31 Federal Teaching and Medical Centres across the country.

The sum is to cover hazard and inducement allowances for the month of April and May.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, disclosed this on Friday while briefing State House Correspondents in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The Minister spoke after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Just this morning before we went to see Mr President, the Ministry of Finance reported that as at 3:00 am this morning, paid the allowances for a hazard to 31 Teaching and Federal Medical Centres and special hospitals of the Federal Government’s service.

“And they have extended close to N4.5billion because we are paying them off the arrears of April and May. The payments for June will also be done when these ones are sorted out. So we have expended N4.5billion as we speak this morning for these payments,” he said.

Ngige’s comments come three days after a meeting between the Federal Government delegation and the National Association of Resident Doctors aimed at resolving the strike embarked upon by the association ended in a deadlock.

READ ALSO: Northern Governors Meet, Take Measures To Tackle Insecurity In Region

The striking doctors refused to reconvene after a brief recess and their president, Dr Aliyu Sokomba, told Channels Television that they are not ready to shift position until their demands are met.

However, Ngige insisted that the meeting was successful, as most of the demands are being resolved.

He later noted that the representatives of the striking doctors have informed them that their members do not agree with the resolutions from the meeting so far, and as such cannot call off the strike until some tangible evidence of commitment from the government is received.

Also speaking, the Minister of Health says the government has the obligation to protect the health of citizens, and since the doctors are not ready to resume, certain steps must be taken.

He also noted that a circular has been sent out to all government hospitals to open a register from Wednesday, to take note of doctors that will resume for work.

Ngige Says ASUU Strike Is ‘Shocking, Illegal’

 

The ongoing two-week warning strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been declared as illegal and the announcement, according to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, came as a shock.

ASUU commenced the strike action on Monday over issues of the alleged imposition of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), poor funding and proliferation of State universities, among other issues.

At the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday in Abuja, Dr Ngige explained that the last discussion the Federal Government had with ASUU, necessitated that a nomination is done to serve the IPPIS committee.

I was shocked that on Monday, just like every other person, I read and saw some people coming out of the university system that their lecturers have gone on strike.

It is not cheery news, they didn’t give us the mandatory notice before going on strike; so for a start, this strike is illegal.

They said it’s a warning strike, a strike is a strike; it’s the withdrawing of services from which you are being paid, he maintained.

READ ALSO: Linking Buhari To Sanusi’s Dethronement Is Unfair, Says Garba Shehu

Speaking further, Dr Ngige said the effects on the University system are not encouraging, and then questions will arise regarding payment of salaries during the strike period.

The staff that will manage the IPPISS in the universities are the staff of the universities, not people in Abuja.

So we asked ASUU to nominate people to serve in the IPPISS committee in every institution, so that is where we are after the visit to President Buhari.

Now the question will arise, if you don’t go to work if you withdraw your services, do you want to be paid? is it not corruption?

Channels Television reported that a couple of universities including the Federal University of Technology Owerri FUTO Imo state, University of Ilorin, after a 20-year absence from general nationwide warning strike, Taraba state university, the University of Ibadan and others.

Ngige Blames Increased Youth Unemployment On 2008 Economic Recession

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, says the economic recession which Nigeria experienced in 2008 is responsible for the rising rate of youth unemployment.

He noted that although the N-power programme has recorded some success, the Federal Government is yet to achieve its target of reducing unemployment in Nigeria.

Ngige disclosed this on Tuesday during the sixth Africa Social Partners summit hosted by the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), in Lagos.

READ ALSO: Lawan Begs WHO To Help Nigeria End Tuberculosis

“So, we have used this (N-power scheme) and drastically reduced youth unemployment but we have not gotten to our target because most African government, Nigeria inclusive, we have some bad effects of the recession that started since 2008.

“That recession may have cleared *sic* in Europe and other climes, but in Africa, the effect of the recession still abound.

“Nigeria is a country that is dependent on oil revenue. It is of late that the government of Muhammadu Buhari started a diversification programme by which we now have other things to export,” the Minister said.

Also at the event, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and its social partners offered an insight into how African countries can reduce rising unemployment rate, especially among the youth population.

The director-general of the NECA, Timothy Olawale, warned that Africa could be sitting on a time bomb unless drastic measures were taken to address increased youth unemployment on the continent.

He believes that industries will thrive if the political space allows for job creation by putting in place policies that will be favourable for employers.

He further analysed that there will be less crime and social peace in Africa if there are more jobs as economic growth creates jobs.

According to the Blueprint for Jobs in Africa which was adopted by the social partners in December 2015 in Casablanca, 63 per cent of the African population is less than 25 years old.

The Blueprint further showed that every month, at least one million young people on the continent enter the job market. And out of about 73 million jobs created on the continent in the past few years, only about 16 million jobs were grabbed by the youth population of Africa which is put at over 200 million people.

At the summit, the ILO submitted that the number of productive jobs in Africa would have to increase by over 300 million or some 26 million per year, more than doubling the number of existing productive jobs to reach 579 million by 2030.

Buhari Swears In Ngige’s Wife, Eight Others As Permanent Secretaries

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday swore-in nine permanent secretaries to their ministries.

One of them is Evelyn Ngige, wife of the Minister of Labour and Employment.

The new permanent secretaries appointed from across the six geopolitical zones include:

Mr Hassan Musa

Mr Aliyu Ahmed

Mrs Olusola Idowu

Mr David Andrew

Mr Umar Tijanni

Dr Nasir Gwarzo

Mr Nebeolisa Anako

Mr Tope Fashedemi

Mrs Evelyn Ngige (wife to the Minister of Labour and Employment)

The permanent secretaries while taking their oaths of office were advised not to allow personal interests overshadow the responsibilities which they are assigned.

President Buhari presided over the ceremonies earlier before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

See photos below:

Electricity Unions Cannot Use Power Play To Punish The Country, Says Ngige


 

The Minister Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige has condemned the industrial action embarked upon by electricity workers, revealing that it is as a result of a power struggle between the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC).

Dr Ngige who was on Channels Television Lunchtime Politics, said that an investigation by the Labour Ministry showed the level of a power struggle between the unions, and he told them not to do anything unfair that will affect the country.

He added that the effect of the strike action has caused the country billions of Naira and loss of lives.

“My initial investigation as the Minister of Labour is that there is a power-play between NUEE and the Senior Staff Association of Electricity Workers who are domiciled there.

“There is a power struggle on who is senior and who is more potent in terms of effecting unionism and they have carried this on and inflicted the whole country with a power outage that has caused us billions of naira and loss of lives; it is unfair and I have told them not to do that.”

READ ALSO: Exercise Higher Tolerance Before Industrial Actions, Gbajabiamila Tells Electricity Workers

The Labour Minister stated that his ministry will carry out further investigation on the matter and will invoke the relevant labour laws on liable unions.

“The unions are not ‘Omni-Sacrosanct’ that we can’t do anything to them, we will look at the issue and if they are liable, I will invoke the relevant sections of the labour act on that.

“The preliminary investigation shows that there is a power play, and they cannot use power play to punish the entire nation and make us lose man-hours, billions of naira and lose lives in hospitals that their generators are not working.”

On the lingering issues between the unions, the Ministry of Power, Distribution Companies (DisCos) and Generating companies (GenCos), Dr Ngige faulted the processes adopted by electricity workers to embark on the nationwide strike, stressing that respect for the rule of law must be adhered to.

“The rule of law is not for the government alone, it is for the citizens too. There are set laws for people to apply in industrial relations and all are encapsulated in the trade dispute act.

“Before somebody on essential service, of which electricity workers are one, can proceed on industrial action; you must notify your direct employers first and the onus is on them to convene a meeting, they then approach the labour ministry, the labour minister is there, that’s my work and they give the ultimatum and there are special forms called the ‘Trade Dispute forms’ which they fill and lodge in the Ministry; all that was not done.

“They just had issues with their direct employers which are the Ministry of Power, the DisCos which is mostly privatized with the government having just 40 percent while the investors have 60 percent,” he added.

Dr Ngige also revealed that the problems are more with the DisCos and GenCos, and where it concerns the Federal Government is in the aspect of the severance package.

He stated that since the unbundling of the power sector, 400 persons out of the remaining 600 outstanding cases have been captured.

“Some of the problems are in the DisCos, the GenCos and some with the government. The Government side of the problem is where they said that some of the people that were severed when those parastatals were privatized have not been paid off.

“The statistics are there and it is only about 600 persons that their cases are outstanding and out of those, 400 have been captured and sent to the Accountant-General of the Federation because what had happened is that all the monies gathered from the sales of privatization were expended in terms of the severance benefits and other allowances that were due to the workers that had to leave those DisCos and GenCos, so 98 percent of the money went in there.

“Shortfall in salaries is a continuous thing and is being addressed and it’s not even a government thing, it is with the DisCos,” he stressed.

The strike action by electricity workers was called off in the early hours of Thursday after the union had earlier issued a 21-day ultimatum to the Minister of Power for a dialogue to resolve the lingering industrial crisis in the sector.

The workers held a protest on Wednesday, over the non-payment of a severance package for members who were affected by the unbundling of Power Holding Company of Nigeria PHCN into eleven electricity distribution companies (DisCos), six generating companies (GenCos), and a transmission company (TCN).

The workers in blocked main entrance gate and locked out some staff to the Ministry of Power.

Reps Summon Labour, Power Ministers Over Planned Electricity Workers’ Strike

 

Leadership of the House of Representatives is set to meet with the Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Chris Ngige and Minister of Power Saleh Mamman.

This is in a bid to avert the planned strike by the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE).

The House made the resolution on Wednesday, following a motion of urgent public importance raised by the House Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu.

READ ALSO: Electricity Workers Protest, Picket Power Ministry In Abuja

The lawmakers expressed worry that if the strike is not averted, there will be economic consequences.

The House then resolved to call the Ministers of Power and Labor to ensure the issues with the generating companies are settled without degenerating into a nationwide strike that will cause total blackout with resultant effect on the socio-economic conditions of the people

Electricity union had earlier issued a 21-day ultimatum to the Minister of Power for a dialogue to resolve the lingering industrial crisis in the sector.

Some of the unresolved issues are illegal transfer of union properties to power investors and the alleged refusal by some distribution companies (discos) to remit deducted contributory pension of their members of staff to pension managers.

Govt Set To Review Allowances Of Political Office Holders – Ngige

Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige

 

As part of efforts to reduce the cost of governance, the Federal Government has directed the revenue mobilisation commission to review the allowances of political office holders including governors and lawmakers.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, disclosed this on Wednesday, during a meeting with members of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) in Abuja.

READ ALSO: Minimum Wage: Labour, FG Fail To Reach Agreement

Ngige also decried the huge sum of recurrent expenditure in the proposed 2020 budget, insisting that there is no option other than to cut down the cost of running the government.

“We cannot allow the government to shut down the economy because they want to pay salaries and wages. The 2020 budget of N10.3trillion has N3.88trillion as personal cost without an overhead. A budget that is 76% recurrent and 24% capital, for me, this is nothing to cheer about.

“Revenue mobilisation commission will also beam a searchlight and review what they are giving for political officeholders. Some of the allowances in their prescriptions are not allowances that should be gotten.

“What is a governor doing with hazard allowance? What is the hazard about, when the state is feeding him and his family? What is a governor doing with constituency allowance? The whole state is his constituency.

“These are things that will be holistically reviewed,” Ngige said.

The Minister concluded that both workers and politicians must be ready to make sacrifices so that more money will be available for infrastructure.

FG To Renegotiate Full Implementation Of N30,000 Minimum Wage

A file photo of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige.

 

 

The Federal Government is set to reconstitute a new committee to begin fresh negotiations for the full implementation of the new national minimum wage of N30,000.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

“The President has put in place a new committee or council called ‘Presidential Committee On Salaries and Allowances,” he said.

READ ALSO: Lagos Task Force Busts Brothel, Arrests 14 Suspects With Drugs

Senator Ngige made the revelation when the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) paid him a courtesy visit at his office in the nation’s capital.

He, however, warned that the delay in agreement for the full implementation of the new minimum wage may put the Federal and State governments in a difficult position to pay because of the backlog that would arise.

The minister explained that it was important for workers earning above N30,000 and on grade level seven to 17 to be patient.

He gave assurance that the consequential adjustment of the minimum wage implementation was being sorted out.

Senator Ngige added, “It is important that we advise them (the stakeholders), because we are not yet back on that negotiation, that if they keep on piling debts, the Federal Government might run into problem of payment.

“The state governments that have not been regular with payments will have problems.”

He, therefore, promised to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari over the stalemated negotiation on the new wage.

The minister informed the labour leaders that the Federal Government was committed to the full implementation of the minimum wage.

Also present at the meeting were the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo, and the NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, among others.

VIDEO: Peter Obi, Chris Ngige Hug At Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal

President Muhammadu Buhari’s former Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige on Friday met with the Vice-Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Peter Obi at the Tribunal.

Both from different political parties shared a quick embrace and laughed loudly when they met inside the courtroom.

They also exchanged pleasantries and jested after which Obi shook hands with members of the PDP legal team.

Ngige and Obi had past history of political rivalry when Ngige took over from Obi as Anambra State Governor in 2017, when both trade words about

The PDP at the Petitions Tribunal is challenging President Buhari’s victory at February 23, 2019 election.

Watch the video below…

NSITF Board: NLC President Is Being Economical With The Truth – Ngige

Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige, says the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Ayuba Wabba is being economical with the truth.

He stated this on Tuesday while appearing on a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

“The NLC President is being economical with the truth. I told them that this name you people have inserted there is an invalid nomination.

“It was on that basis that I asked Mr Kokori to give me his Curriculum Vita (CV). As a matter of fact, this NLC President came to my office and lied to me that the Vice President asked them to bring a nomination.

“And I told him, it cannot stand. You know what the Act says. Based on that, I wrote to the Vice President pointing out that I should nominate. As at two weeks ago, the Vice President said he didn’t see them,” he said.

READ ALSO: Ngige, Labour Trade Blames Over NSITF Board Inauguration

But reacting, the NLC President faulted the Minister for the delay in the constitution of the board, blaming the action on an alleged lack of communication between the Federal Government and the labour.

While maintaining that Kokori was not recommended by the labour, he insisted that his appointment was based on a recommendation from the Delta State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) being a member.

He said: “The issue of Kokori’s appointment was not the issue mainly, it was inaugurating the board. So clearly speaking, there is a breakdown in communication. That communication which was made public to Nigerians only came at the eve of the inauguration two days ago.

“We are social partners in this particular issue. It’s a labour market institution. We shouldn’t wait until the 11th hour. Labour should have been informed. Even him Kokori should have been informed.

“Even now, there is no formal communication to him. After the Minister invited him to his house and had dinner to say you have been appointed, there is no formal communication to labour.

When asked when the implementation of the new national minimum wage would commence, the Minister said he doesn’t know.

He, however, explained that the Federal Government would constitute an Implementation Committee comprising of seven ministers and the Salaries and Wages Commission.

“An implementation committee on the government sides would be inaugurated today in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.

“There are about seven ministers who are there. The head of the Civil Service of the Federation will chair the committee, the Chairman, Salaries Income and Wages Commission will be the secretary and we will have the secretariat,” he said.

Ngige’s comment follows the faceoff between himself and the NLC over the constitution and inauguration of the board for the National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

Members of the Labour Union have been aggrieved following the replacing of Frank Kokori as the Chair of NSITF Board with Enejamo-Isire and his subsequent reappointment as the chair the board of Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies.

Ngige, Labour Trade Blames Over NSITF Board Inauguration

The faceoff between the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Federal Government continued on Tuesday with a blame game over the inauguration of a new board for the National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

While the Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige, spoke on behalf of the Federal Government, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba represented the labour union.

Both appeared as guests on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, a day after Ngige swore in a new board for the Fund following a two-year delay.

Prior to the inauguration, NLC members last week protested against the Minister for his alleged failure to inaugurate the board of National Social Insurance Trust Fund with Frank Kokori as the chairman.

Wabba criticised the Minister for the delay in the constitution of the board, blaming the action on an alleged lack of communication between the Federal Government and the labour.

READ ALSO: Ngige Inaugurates New NSITF Board After Two-Year Delay

He, however, insisted that Kokori was not recommended by the labour, insisting that his appointment was based on a recommendation from the Delta State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) being a member.

NLC President, Ayuba Wabba                                               Labour Minister, Chris Ngige

“We are social partners in this particular issue. It’s a labour market institution. We shouldn’t wait until the 11th hour. Labour should have been informed. Even him Kokori should have been informed.

“Even up to now, there is no formal communication to him. After the Minister invited him to his house and had dinner to say you have been appointed, there is no formal communication to labour.

“The issue of Kokori’s appointment was not the issue mainly, it was inaugurating the board. So clearly speaking, there is a breakdown in communication. That communication which was made public to Nigerians only came at the eve of the inauguration two days ago,” he stated.

But reacting to the allegation, the Minister accused the NLC President of being economical with the truth.

According to Ngige, Wabba came to his office claiming that the Vice President had instructed the NLC to bring a nomination.

“I did not recommend Mr Kokori for an appointment. The NLC President is being economical with the truth. I told them that this name you people have inserted is an invalid nomination.

“It was on that basis that I asked Mr Kokori to give me his Curriculum Vita (CV). As a matter of fact, this NLC President came to my office and lied to me that the Vice President asked them to bring a nomination.

“And I told him, it cannot stand. You know what the Act says. Based on that, I wrote to the Vice President pointing out that I should nominate. As at two weeks ago, the Vice President said he didn’t see them,” he said.