The Nigerian Government says it will fish out all companies paying less than the eighteen thousand naira salary and prosecute them for flouting the laws on minimum wage in the country.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige made the revelation on a Voice of Nigeria flag ship programme, In The News.
Dr Ngige also advised State Governments who are insisting that they can no longer pay the eighteen thousand naira minimum wage to have a rethink as the federal government would not take lightly, any state flouting the laws of the land saying that the issue of minimum was a constitutional matter that could not be toyed with.
Government , he said was not unaware of the purchasing power of the present National Minimum wage, and promised that government would revisit the matter when things got better.
“If things improve, government will increase salaries of civil servants,” Ngige said.
The minister said that employment and underemployment were two areas that the present administration was focusing seriously on with a view to mopping up what he called the army of the unemployed scattered in the country.
In his words “employment and labour are too essential as government have the statutory responsibility to provide a conducive environment for citizens to take the full potential, which basically boils down to securing gainful employment.
On the other hand, government is required by law to ensure the practices in the country’s labour market are standardized and wages are commensurate to tax refund.”
Dr Ngige said Nigeria’s unemployment rate was four point zero percent as at the first quarter of 2015 which has translated to about eight million unemployed while the under employment rate is eighteen point seven percent. That is about fourteen point four million people, according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics.
The government of APC came into office on 29th May, 2015 with a myriad of promises among which were the creation of employment opportunities and fostering a cohesive globally competitive labour environment.
According to Ngige, “APC as a party had its mantra, change. During our campaigning for electoral votes, we asked Nigerians to vote for us that we are going to change the country for the better…Whatever happens in life, man always wants change for the better, nobody wants retrogression.
So we did promise Nigerians that we are going to build our government on three cardinal pillars which are security of lives and properties which is entrenched in Nigeria’s constitution and are the primary purpose of government. If you go to section 14 (2 ), it is the security of lives and properties and welfare of the citizens.
It captures what the primary purpose of government is. Under welfare of citizens, you have to make people comfortable and one of the tools of making people comfortable is having jobs, so that they can fend for themselves and at the end of specific period, they hope to earn something,” Dr Chris Ngige said.
The private sector will not be left behind as the Minister stressed that it was the responsibility of government to provide a conducive climate for businesses to thrive as well as providing them security of lives and properties.
Earlier, on a courtesy call on the Acting Director General of Voice of Nigeria, Mr Ahaziah Suleiman, the Minister urged the organization to continue to maintain the enviable position as the authoritative voice of the country.
Describing VON as one of the best radio stations in Nigeria, he said the station recognizes and respects its audience and their beliefs.
Responding, Acting Director General VON, Mr Ahaziah Suleiman said that Voice of Nigeria broadcasts in eight international languages for strategic reasons adding that the organization is also stepping up its programming to compete favourably with its counterparts around the world.
He also expressed his gratitude to the Minister for the visit.