Northern Nigerian Breaking News

SCORECARD: Evaluating the performances of Simon Lalong, Onyejeocha as ministers of labour

In August 2023, Simon Lalong assumed office as the new minister of labour and employment in Nigeria. He was appointed alongside Nkiruka Onyejeocha as the state minister of labour and employment. 

Speaking to journalists who were present at the Federal Ministry on August 21, 2023, Lalong expressed willingness to address the new National Minimum Wage and other palliatives arising from the removal of fuel subsidies.

Few weeks before the ministers were sworn-in, NLC and TUC issued a seven-day ultimatum to the federal government to reverse all “anti-poor” and “insensitive” policies. The policies, the unions said, include the hike in the price of petrol, and the sudden increase in public school fees, among others

The policies, the union said, include the recent hike in the price of petrol, and the sudden increase in public school fees, among others.

READ ALSO: Muslim Lawyers Condemn Women Affairs Minister’s Intrusion In Planned Mass Wedding In Niger

elsamad new

However, the federal government said the union is restrained by an order of the national industrial court from embarking on any industrial action or strike regarding the removal of the petrol subsidy. Not pleased with the protest held by NLC and TUC at the time, the federal government filed a contempt proceeding against the unions for allegedly defying an order restraining the unions from embarking on industrial action.

But upon his assumption as minister, Lalong said he believes that addressing the challenges of workers is imperative in order to boost the relationship with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

“The government does not take this for granted and Mr President has directed that we move on with negotiations to arrive at amicable resolutions that will make our workers overcome the current pains,” he said. “Our workers must get value for their labour and operate in safe and conducive environment because of the level of unemployment, underemployment, and challenges associated with the work environment.”

“We have been mandated by Mr President to ensure that Nigerians get decent employment and are adequately remunerated for their labour both in the public and private sectors. We shall not spare any effort to protect the Nigerian worker and guarantee his dignity at all times,” he added. 

On the other hand, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, the minister of state for labour and employment commended a urged all to join hands and support President Bola Tinubu’s administration in conducting the affairs of the country to ensure development and prosperity.

“Our youths are on the streets and as a ministry, we must take them out of the streets, it is our mandate and we must make that change. It is a call to service and we asked God to enable us achieve the purpose,” she said.

But has anything changed since the duo assumed office? SolaceBase reviews.

On October 1, 2023, the federal government met with the leadership of the NLC and TUC on measures to address the dispute arising from the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). While Federal Government announced N25,000 only as provisional wage increment for all treasury-paid federal government workers for six months, resolution was made to constitute a sub-committee to work out the details of implementation of new minimum wage. 

Though the ministers has since assumption of office prevented a series of strike actions from different unions, the issue of new minimum wage is yet to be resolved. 

In January, President Bola Tinubu, through Vice President Kashim Shettima, set up a 37-member panel at the Council Chamber of the State House in Abuja. With its membership cutting across federal and state governments, the private sector, and organised labour, the panel was tasked with recommending a new national minimum wage.

READ ALSO: Police Dismiss Inspector Over N29.8m Theft, Demote 3 Others For Extortion

At the inaugural meeting of the panel, Shettima urged members to ‘speedily’ arrive at a resolution, and submit their reports early as the current N30,000 minimum wage expired at the end of March 2024.

In March, NLC and TUC demanded that minimum wage should commence in April but state governors warned against what they tagged unrealistic demands from Labour, urging the National Minimum Wage Committee to consider the capacities of states to pay the new minimum wage. The labour unions are now demanding N615,000 monthly as the new minimum wage for workers in the country. 

Earlier this week, the NLC) and TUC expressed profound disappointment in the Federal Government as negotiations at the Tripartite National Minimum Wage resumed on Wednesday. 

The unions in a statement signed by Joe Ajaero; NLC president and Tommy Etim Okon; TUC deputy president said despite earnest efforts to reach an equitable agreement, the less than reasonable action of the Government and the Organised Private Sector (OPS) has led to a breakdown in negotiations.

They said Government’s proposal of a paltry N48,000 as the minimum wage does not only insult the sensibilities of Nigerian workers but also falls significantly short of meeting their needs and aspirations. 

Aside from failure to resolve minimum wage sage in their first year in office as ministers,  the country is also battling with a high unemployment rate. 

Speaking with SolaceBase, Roqib Alimi, a public affairs commentator, said knocked ministry for not being proactive in dealing with the issues of minimum wage. “The minister must as a matter of urgency address the issues affecting Nigerian workers. There’s a lot of hardship as a result of fuel subsidy removal and fluctuating naira. Lalong and his colleague must be quickly deal with issues affecting workers’ unions and not talk down on them when they protest or embark on strike. The unions demands are valid.”

Comments are closed.