Mr. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, on Thursday while speaking to State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, said that Buhari’s administration has so far created up to seven (7) million jobs.
“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.
According to Ngige, that much number of jobs was created in rice farming, adding that millions of jobs have also been created through the N-power programme.
“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.
He also noted that some government agencies, such as the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), have also created jobs through skills acquisition, adding that government gives tools to earn a living through being “plumbers, electricians ,cosmetologists, shoe makers, tilers and several other areas. We have created several jobs.”
The Minister was at the Presidential Villa to brief Mr. President on the harvest of strikes in September, saying that workers union in health and education sectors went on strike over the inability of government to fulfill promises made by previous governments to the workers.
Mr. Ngige also said he discussed the issue of the review of the current minimum wage with Buhari.
“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 the minimum wage, he noted that he cannot say whether the N56,000 being asked by the Nigerian Labour Congress is possible.
“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.
Adding that Section 34 of the Constitution which deals with such issues put it under the Exclusive Legislation list. Which means only the federal government can legislate on it. He noted that the government was however working very fast on the process.
“When they complete their work, their decision will go to the National Assembly to legislate on,” he said.
“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 added.