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Published On: Fri, Nov 3rd, 2017

We’ve created 7m jobs from agriculture, says Ngige

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By Lawrence Olaoye

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has claimed that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has created between 5-7 million jobs from the agricultural value chain alone.
Ngige who was at the Presidential Villa to brief the President on developments in his ministry said Buhari was satisfied with the level of job creation in the country.
He said “We promised jobs but what has happened is that people tried to quantify jobs in terms of white collar jobs for graduates from universities, polytechnic but they don’t want to look at the blue collar jobs.
Agriculture and agric chains alone have created more than 5-7 Million jobs. Talk in terms of rice. From rice tilling, harvesting, sending to the paddies, mills, and even where people are making the jux bags, transportations, people are getting jobs.
So, that value chain alone from agric is enormous. Take the N-power, we have created millions of jobs from here. Skill acquisition from the NDE and other agencies of government, jobs are being created. We give them tools as plumbers, electricians ,cosmetologists, shoe makers, tilers and several other areas. We have created several jobs.”
Asked when the government would resolve the issue around the demand for raise in the minimum wage for workers, Ngige said “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 empaneling 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, 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.”
Asked whether Labour demand for N56,000 as minimum wage was attainable, the minister said “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.
Section 34 which deal with the issue put it under the Exclusive Legislation list. Meaning it is only the federal government that can legislate on this. When they complete their work, their decision will go to the National Assembly to legislate on.”
Asked whether he was worried that his ministry may not be able to conclude negotiations on the minimum wage before the 2019 general election, he said “No, we are going to fast tract 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.”
On his main purpose for meeting the President, Ngige said “This is the first major opportunity we had to brief Mr, President especially as we had a harvest of strikes in September. So, we had to look at where we are and also look at where we are in terms of job creation, Labour administration and the issue of national minimum wage, which Labour has been asking the government to set in motion the process.”

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