Why labour ministry requires more funding — Minister

Chris Ngige. [PHOTO CREDIT: Sahara Reporters]
Chris Ngige. [PHOTO CREDIT: Sahara Reporters]

The Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Chris Ngige, has asked the National Assembly to approve more funds for the ministry.

He made the request when he appeared before the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity on Monday.

The minister said an increase in allocation will help meet the ministry’s operational needs.

He also noted that the proposed budget for the ministry is the best he has seen so far.

Mr Ngige explained that the federal government considers the ministry’s activities as intangible, hence the poor funding.

“We are observing a situation where the rich want to be richer and the poor, poorer. We are not building roads, bridges, airports, but we are assisting the country to maintain a big and good social milieu that will make for security of everybody.

“Inability to create jobs brings about social dislocation and when this social dislocation comes in, unemployment will get people who are jobless to go and join Boko Haram. IPOB, avengers, among others. But if we manage them well, if we expect little more money, the labour administration can avert some of those things.”

Defence

“Capital votes for the ministry in 2015 was N200 million. We are established in all state and regional offices but the allocation is not a priority. I have fought and must say this is the best allocation I have seen in this ministry. Even when oil boom was there, the place has been neglected.

“Our state and zonal offices, you will see some chairs bought in 1982 there. Its only last year we started changing them not to talk of computerization,” the minister said.

He thereafter, pleaded with the assembly “to make government realise that the ministry is a sensitive ministry”.

“If we had enough money and deployed enough in our job creation department and even do proper labour inspection, (it will) ensure Nigerians are given jobs over foreigners.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the House Committee on Representatives Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity, Ali Wudi, agreed with the minister.

He said so many questions have been asked about releases “and the allocations are inadequate for the ministry”.

“The way I look at it, even the money for capital and overhead is grossly inadequate for the whole ministry. But I think sometimes, we need to look inwards. Why is it happening like that? Why is this ministry given meagre allocations?

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“Ministry of labour has offices in almost all states of the federation and your overhead is (N)93 million to fund these offices. These are issues that we need to sit and challenge whoever is giving the ministry this meagre resources.

“When I look at reports, instead of the thing to improve, every year it is reducing. What is happening? Is it the ministry’s bureaucracy or the leadership that are not doing what they are supposed to do,” he said.

On his part, the Chairman of the Committee, Benjamin Uwajumogu, said the core responsibility of the committee was to conduct oversight overall labour-related matters.

He said that the meeting was to enable the committee members to understand the clear mandate, challenges and prospects of each Ministry, Department and Agencies (MDAs) under the committee’s oversight functions.

“Working with the various stakeholders in the labour industry, the committee will intensify efforts to create, sustain and promote peaceful industrial relations, enhance productivity and skills, safe and decent working environment as well as universal social coverage in the country.”

He also said the attention of the committee has been drawn to the cases of illegal recruitment of persons, uncoordinated implementation of projects, programmes and inflation of contracts in some MDAs.

“The committee will in due course investigate all these unwholesome practices,” Mr Uwajumogu said.

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