PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has approved federal government’s nominees for the New Minimum Wage negotiations committee.
He denied that government had promised to accelerate the negotiation process for the wage at the beginning of the administration.
Responding to enquiries on the acceleration, he said: “No, no, we didn’t say we were going to accelerate the process. When we came to power in 2015, there was a minimum wage Act in situ, 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 the organized Labour.
“One of the agreements was that the issue will be addressed. The old law expired last Year August and we are now in the process of empaneling 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, NECA, MAN, NACCIMA, SMEs. These are the arms that will be involved.
“NLC, TUC their affiliates have done their nominations. What we are now trying to fine tune is the date for inauguration.”
He said the purpose of his meeting with the president on Thursday was to brief the president on the “harvest of strikes in September,” saying: “So, we had to look at where we are and also look at where we are in terms of job creation, Labour administration and the issue of national minimum wage, which Labour has been asking the government to set in motion the process.”
On job creation, he expressed regrets that people mistake the concept for creation of only white collar jobs.
He added: “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.
“Agriculture and agric chains alone have created more than 5-7 million jobs. Talk in terms of rice. From rice tilling, harvesting, sending to the paddies, mills, and even where people are making the jut bags, transportations, people are getting jobs.
“So, that value chain alone from agric is enormous. 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.”