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MINIMUM WAGE: Buhari approves committee

The minister of labour and productivity, Chris Ngige, says President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the membership of the proposed national minimum wage committee.

Ngige, who briefed reporters on Thursday after meeting with the president, also said discussions with the affected parties would decide whether the N56,000 national minimum wage being demanded by workers “is achievable”.

The minimum wage is currently N18,000 per month.

“When we came to power in 2015, there was a minimum wage, 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 organised labour,” he said.

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“One of the agreements was that the issue would 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 — the National Employment Consultative Agency (NECA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

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“These are the arms that will be involved. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), their affiliates have done their nominations. What we are now trying to fine-tune is the date for inauguration.”

Ngige said it was the first major opportunity he had to brief the president “especially as we had a harvest of strikes in September”.

“We promised jobs but what has happened is that people tried to quantify jobs in terms of white collar jobs for graduates from universities, polytechnics but they don’t want to look at the blue collar jobs,” he added.

“Agriculture and agric chains alone have created more than 5-7 Million jobs. Talk in terms of rice. From rice tilling, harvesting, mills, and even where people are making the jute bags, transportation, people are getting jobs. So, that value chain alone from agric is enormous.

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“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.”

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