By Tosin Kolade
Abuja – The reappointed Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has pledged to promote industrial harmony and speed up processes for the implementation of the new minimum wage.
Ngige, while addressing newsmen at his residence after his inauguration as minister by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in Abuja, said that he was a man of his words.
He said that he would follow due process to put smiles on the faces of Nigerian workers.
“The issue of consequential adjustments in the minimum wage is currently being handled by the permanent secretary in my ministry and he has made some progress.
“By tomorrow (Thursday), we will get the notes from him and, I and the minister of state will know how to key in.
“The most important thing is that we want to make sure that the matter is addressed as quickly as possible so that we can put smiles on the faces of Nigerian workers.”
Ngige pledged to resolve all impending disputes in the sector, noting that his track record had reflected in his efforts in the last three and a half years.
”I don’t know what I will do differently. I am a man of due process. If you are also a man of due process, you will be my friend. Do things the way they should be done, and not abnormally.
“I put in all my energy in whatever assignment I am given and I have been doing that in the ministry of labour in the last three and a half years.
“I remain committed to working with labour unions. The Nigeria Labour Congress is a federation of some labour unions. We also have the Trade Union Congress and the United Labour Congress which, though, has not been officially registered,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that there was a face-off between the minister and NLC over the constitution of the board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) shortly before Ngige exited the ministry in May.
The two parties had engaged each other in war of words over Ngige’s refusal to allow a former labour leader, Chief Frank Kokori, to head the board of the Fund
NAN also recalls that NLC, through its immediate past General Secretary, Peter Ozo-Eson, had appealed to the president to give Ngige a new portfolio in the next cabinet, arguing that he was not fit to handle the labour ministry.
His words, “We think that government will be looking for problem if Ngige is returned to the ministry of labour as a minister because he does not understand how the place works and his own approach will create unnecessary industrial crisis.
“If the government is properly advised, it should look for where to put him. Ngige is a square peg in a round hole in the ministry,” Ozo-Eson had said.
NAN reports that Ngige was at the forefront of negotiations for the N30,000 new minimum wage which had since been signed into law by the president.