The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has labelled the claim by Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State that the Federal and state governments in the country may not be able to pay salaries beyond next month as a false alarm.
Ngige was reacting to Obaseki’s statement during the May Day celebration at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin, the Edo State capital.
According to Obaseki, the two tiers of government will no longer be able to pay salaries without the removal of petrol subsidy.
In his reaction, Ngige, who spoke in a television programme on Monday, dismissed the governor’s warning as an ‘alarm’.
He also assured the workers that the Federal Government has the capacity to meet the proposed pay rise, adding that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had made adequate provision for the workers.
He also assured that the incoming government of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has what it takes to follow through on the agreement.
He said: “Obaseki’s statement is not correct because payment of salaries and the increases we are talking about have been budgeted for.
“The doctors have completed their negotiation under the auspices of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and they have come to us and we have transmitted it to the authority concerned. We have done the same thing for the nurses and others in the health sector.
“We have done the same thing for lecturers who went on strike for eight months last year and other workers in the university system and the polytechnic. Already, N350 billion has been captured in the appropriation budget of 2023.”
Speaking on government having enough money to pay salaries from June this year, the minister said: “I am neither the Central Bank governor nor am I the Minister of Finance. These two manage Nigeria’s economy.
“I don’t know where Governor Obaseki has his information from. I would advise him as a governor to face his state and not talk about the Federal Government.
“Let him face his state and ensure that the weight of the salary increase is not borne by the workers alone. I don’t know what he is talking about and I don’t live in Edo State.
“For me as Labour manager of the country, President Muhammadu Buhari has made adequate provision for payment of salaries.
“And I am sure that the incoming government of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will tow the same line. He is a finance man, who managed Lagos finances very well.
“When he was the governor of Lagos State, he even had extra for his workers in the judiciary. So, I have no fear that the incoming government will deliver.”
Speaking further on why the government has not been able to crash the unemployment rate from 32 per cent, Ngige insisted that job creation is a cross-cutting thing and not only for the public sector to do.
“Many people have a wrong notion that it is for the government to create jobs. That is not right. The private sector is huge in job creation.
“If the economy is suffering several challenges, you will not have enough money in the system to ginger the system and create jobs.
“It is a fact that foreign investment into the country has gone down”, Ngige said.
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