The Federal Government has commenced the meeting with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the lingering strike.
Chris Ngige, the minister of Labour and Employment, is in attendance along with the striking lecturers.
The Minister says he is worried over the delay in suspending the strike after the last meeting where some funds were released by the Federal Government to pay salaries shortfalls.
But the President of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi said that they want the Federal government to get it right this time around, especially issues revolving around University revitalization in order to ensure that graduates from Nigeria Universities can be proud of their certificates.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, discussions are still ongoing for a new minimum wage for the country.
“The issue of the minimum wage is a work in progress”, he told journalists at the State House in Abuja on Thursday, after the National Executive Council meeting.
He explained that it is after the ongoing deliberations on the minimum wage that a bill will be sent to the National Executive Council and subsequently referred to the National Council of State.
He said, “We are taking our deliberations to the National Executive Council and then we will close up on the 22nd of January at the National Council of State after which we will be able to say where we are going concerning the figures and frequency those that have exemptions.
“By then we will be ready to transmit to the National Assembly on or before 23rd of January.”
The Federal Government through the Labour Minister had in a meeting with the leadership of the NLC last week Tuesday resolved that the executive bill on minimum wage should be forwarded by January 23 to the National Assembly to prevent the planned strike.
The NLC had threatened to shut down the economy on January 28, and also vote against any candidate in the forthcoming elections that refuses to implement the proposed minimum wage of N30,000.
The Federal Government has fixed January 23, 2019, to transmit the new Minimum Wage Bill to the National Assembly with a view to fast-tracking the implementation of a new wage structure for Nigerian workers.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, confirmed this to journalists on Tuesday after a meeting with the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress and its allies in Abuja.
He assured the labour leaders that the government will be presenting the recommendations of the tripartite committee to the States Security Council in the coming weeks.
According to him, the whole process that precedes the transmission of the bill to the National Assembly will be completed before January 23.
On his part, the President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, stressed the importance of keeping to the timeline to avoid further disagreements between labour and the government.
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Mr. Chris Ngige, says the Federal Government has rejected the N22,500 minimum wage proposal by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF).
Ngige stated this on Wednesday during a phone interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.
“The governors have not even done enough. I told them that this N22,500 is even rejected by the Federal Government,” he said.
Ngige’s comments come 24 hours after NGF unanimously agreed to pay Nigerian workers N22,500 as the new minimum wage as against the current N18,000.
Chairman of the Forum and Zamfara State Governor, Abdul’Aziz Yari, said that the decision of the governors was based on the current realities on the ground.
But Ngige criticised the governors for the figure saying N22,500 is even below the N24, 000 agreement by the Federal Government.
He, however, said that all parties on the ground would resume back on negotiations to see that the welfare of the workers is met.
Ngige added, “The national minimum wage is a national legislation being driven by the Federal Government of Nigeria in pursuance to item 34 of the Exclusive Legislative list.
“But you don’t go and make a law which people will disobey at the initial.
“If you make a law and hoax a figure that is not agreeable, which people don’t have the capacity or ability to pay because the International Labour Organisation (ILO) says in those negotiations, the principle is the ability to pay.”
The minister, however, decried that the Chairman of the Tripartite Committee, Ms. Amal Pepple is not in the country.
Ngige explained that despite her absence for two weeks for a medical check-up, the Federal Government would convene partners involved in the minimum wage to deliberate on the issue and arrive on the same page.
Although workers are demanding N30,000 as minimum wage, the minister said that any industrial action being embarked on the aggrieved workers would not resolve the issues at stake.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, believes the Federal Government deserves to be applauded by the Nigerian workers.
According to him, the Muhammadu Buhari administration has been able to manage the welfare of workers in the country better than other administrations.
“Many people will not remember very quickly,” the minister said in an interview with Channels Television on the last edition of Roadmap 2019.
He explained further, “In the military government, at a time, there was an embargo on employment; even embargo on promotions. When people go, the vacancies are there and the monies are returned to the coffers of the government.”
“We are not doing so and I thought Nigerian workers should be clapping for us for that. We are promoting them (workers) as we speak; we are replacing those who have left,” Ngige added.
“In fact, when people leave on high grades, we do what is called suppression and get more (people) on the lower grades. The Presidency doesn’t want anybody to be laid off; this President.”
According to the minister, President Muhammadu Buhari is very concerned about the welfare of workers because he was part of them, as a soldier.
“No embargo on employment,” he insisted, stressing that government was recruiting more workers and replacing those who left for one reason or the other.
According to him, the Buhari administration has recruited 30,000 policemen and thousands of workers into various parastatals of the government.
Senator Ngige added that the government came up with various interventions such as the National Social Investment Programme, to improve the standard of living of the people.
He also pointed out the N-Power scheme for 500,000 young Nigerians whom he said were receiving N30,000 monthly and N5,000 for equipment.
He said traders were not left out of the benefits from the government as they enjoy small-scale empowerment under the interest-free loan scheme among others.
On the issue of minimum wage, the minister said, “It’s in the exclusive list; exclusive legislative list.”
“It is the Federal Government that will legislate on it. I am hopeful that we can do something that we can call National Minimum Wage Act, 2018,” Ngige said.
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Mr Chris Ngige, says Nigeria is still a third world country and should not be compared with the economies of the United States of America, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Ngige said this on Friday, during his appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today, in reaction to the lingering controversy around the national minimum wage.
Labour leaders are demanding an increment from the current minimum wage of N18,000 and some have argued that the minimum wage in countries like the US, UK and Canada are $1232, $1633 and $2582 respectively.
But the minister maintained that those countries are developed and should not be compared to Nigeria.
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), has faulted the claims of the Federal Government that it had not reached an agreement on the national minimum wage with the labour leaders.
In a statement on Wednesday, jointly signed by the union leaders, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, Comrade Bala Bobboi Kaigama and Comrade Joe Ajaero, they insisted that the tripartite committee had concluded its work, contrary to the claims of the Federal Government.
The labour leaders also stated that that the committee had adopted a figure through a formal motion moved, seconded and adopted in the absence of any counter motion.
“Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige claiming that no amount has been agreed by the Tripartite Committee as recommendation to government.
“The report further claimed that the Minister said that government was still negotiating with Labour.
“It is rather unfortunate and sad if, indeed, the Honourable Minister made those statements.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Organised Labour representatives wish to state unequivocally that the Tripartite Committee concluded its work, adopted a figure through a formal motion moved, seconded and adopted in the absence of any counter motion.
“This was after a thorough debate of a report from the sub-committee figure, chaired by Senator Ngige himself, which presented four scenarios for consideration,” the statement read in part.
The labour leaders further explained that the “sub-committee worked on the basis of a figure proposed by the Federal Government, figures proposed by a number of state governments as well as proposals submitted by the Organised Private Sector and Organised Labour”.
Also, according to them, the committee formally adjourned its sitting with a decision that a date will be communicated to members for the signing of the report and submission of same to President Buhari.
The labour leaders said they were displeased with what they described as an attempt to delay the processes needed to promulgate a new National Minimum Wage.
They, therefore, called on the government to take immediate necessary steps to ensure the enactment of a new National Minimum Wage, adding that if immediate action is not taken, they “cannot guarantee industrial peace and harmony”.
The Federal Government has denied reaching an agreement with the leaders of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) on the new minimum wage.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, disclosed this on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Minister explained that negotiations are still ongoing as the different groups involved have agreed on different figures as minimum wage.
According to him, the labour leaders agreed on N30,000, the private sector agreed on N25,000 while the Federal and State governments agreed on N24,000 and N20,000 respectively.
He said negotiations will continue as they plan to harmonise the agreements reached tomorrow, Thursday.
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige, has described the 14-day ultimatum issued by the organised labour over the new minimum wage as a blackmail and an attempt to intimidate the Federal Government.
Ngige made the comments on Thursday at a press briefing.
He said the organised labour cannot apply force or issue threats during negotiations as it contravenes the International Labour Organisation conventions and the Nigerian labour laws.
He further stated that the presidential committee charged with the task of working out details of the new wage package had almost completed its assignment except that agreement on figures were yet to be reached.
He, therefore, asked the labour unions to wait as he plans to meet President Muhammadu Buhari today (Friday) to brief him on the progress made so far on the negotiations for a new minimum wage.
The Labour leaders issued the ultimatum on Wednesday, stating that the National Minimum Wage Committee commenced work in March 2018 with timelines to deliver on its mandate by August/ September 2018.
They also accused Ngige of delaying the process of arriving at a new minimum wage which workers had been expecting since 2016.
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, has threatened to suspend erring ministers.
Oshiomhole while addressing journalists at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, on Monday, said the APCwill not give room for ‘dishonourable’ Ministers.
He noted that discipline must be maintained. Referring to a minister who he said failed to constitute and inaugurate board members for Federal Agencies’ parastatals under his ministry, Oshiomhole threatened to suspend such minister from the ruling party.
“If the minister refuses we will suspend him from the party. We must return to internal discipline. For me it is the height of mischief for any minister, you cannot purport to be an Honourable Minister and you act dishonourably. Nobody is greater than the party.
“If the President condones disrespect for his office, I will not condone disrespect for the party.”
The APC National Chairman, Oshiomhole, said some Ministers have abused the ‘fatherly disposition’ of President Muhammadu Buhari and therefore, efforts will be put in place to prevail on the President to instill discipline in members of his cabinet and Ministers.
“They have taken undue advantage of the President’s fatherly disposition. When we expel the Minister, we will prevail on the President that he can’t keep in his cabinet people who have neither respect for his own decisions nor have respect for the party without which they would not have been ministers.
“There are no independent candidates in our system. No minister is above the party. It is absolutely illegal for a minister in a democracy to prey on the powers of the board. The laws establishing those institutions are clear. The boards have procedures to follow.
“When a minister sits in his office to award a contract that didn’t go through boards, this is clearly an abuse of office.
“I am convinced that what they are doing is not with the endorsement of Mr. President. I tell them it is the same authority that appoints these people. It is the same blue or green pen that made them ministers that appointed these boards that they are refusing to swear in.”
Oshiomhole, who is also a former governor of Edo State, said the Ministers must comply to President Buhari’s instructions. He said they must also comply with the party’s position or they are shown the way out of the party.
This he, however, stressed does not mean he does not respect Nigerian Ministers.
“We have respect for Ministers but only to the extent that they recognise that they are a product of a political party. They either comply or we will expel them from the party.”
Oshiomhole who became the APC Chairman during a period when the party is faced with internal crisis said he is not losing sleep over the Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-APC), a faction threatening to break away from the ruling party.
According to him, the APC would not change nor negotiate its core values in order to retain aggrieved members.
However, records from the national bureau of statistics reveals that four million Nigerians lost their jobs during the last quarter of 2017.
On the issues of the ongoing new minimum wage review, the Minister argues that the capacity of government to pay the various proposals from states and labour unions, which ranges from N20,000 to N50,000 will largely be determine by revenue inflows.