The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, says the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has created up to seven million jobs so far.
The minister stated this on Thursday while briefing State House correspondent after meeting with President Buhari in his office.
“We promised jobs but what has happened is that people tried to quantify jobs in terms of white collar jobs for graduates from universities and polytechnics, but they don’t want to look at the blue collar jobs.
“Agriculture and agric value chain alone have created more than 5-7 million jobs,” he said.
Mr. Ngige said such jobs were created in rice farming.
“From rice tilling, harvesting, sending to the paddies, mills, and even where people are making the jute bags, transportation, people are getting jobs.
“So, that value chain alone from agric is enormous,” he said.
The minister also said the government has created “millions of jobs from the N-power scheme.”
He said agencies of government such as the National Directorate of Employment, NDE, have also created jobs through skills acquisition.
Ngige said under the NDE, the government gives beneficiaries tools to earn a living through being “plumbers, electricians, cosmetologists, shoe makers, tilers and several other areas.
We have created several jobs,” he said. The minister said he was at the State House to brief Mr. Buhari on the “harvest of strikes in September.”
Several workers’ unions especially in the health and education sectors recently went on strike over various demands or inability of government to fulfill promises made to the workers in the past.
The Labour Minister also said he discussed the issue of the review of national minimum wage. He, however, said contrary to belief, the government did not undertake to quicken the pace of implementing a new minimum wage.
“When we came to power in 2015, there was a minimum wage Act in situ, 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 Organized Labour.
“One of the agreements was that the issue will be addressed. The old law expired last year August and we are now in the process of empanelling 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, NECA, MAN, NACCIMA and SMEs.
These are the arms that will be involved.
“NLC, TUC their affiliates have done their nominations. What we are now trying to fine tune is the date for inauguration,” he said.
On whether the N56,000 minimum wage being asked for by the NLC is possible, Mr. Ngige said he could not confirm that for now.
“I can’t say whether it is possible. The tripartite discussion will decide that. This is what we call the social dialogue group which will produce the CBA, Collective Bargaining Agreement on what should be the national minimum wage,” he said.
He also said Section 34 of the Nigerian Constitution which deals with the issue put it under the Exclusive Legislation list. Meaning it is only the federal government that can legislate on it.
“When they complete their work, their decision will go to the National Assembly to legislate on,” he said.
Mr. Ngige assured that the government was willing to fast track the process by working very fast.
“The committee will have terms of reference that will set the time frame for them to conclude the work. I am sure the President will ensure that the process is completed in time,” he said.