Minimum Wage: FG is Controlling Inflation, Balancing Economy, SGF Akume

 The Federal Government on Thursday called on Nigerians to rise up and have something in their pockets.

The government told labour that it is not about demanding N100,000 without productivity, adding, “We are looking at controlling inflation and ensuring a balanced economy.”

While describing the recent shutdown on the national grid by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) over the national minimum wage controversy as treasonable, the government said that the current administration of President Bola Tinubu inherited a turbulent country, citing that the country’s foreign reserves and many other sectors were poorly managed.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume, made the plea at the National Executive Council of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), where he called on Nigerians to remain calm amidst the economic challenges, assuring them that President Bola Tinubu is working diligently to improve the economy.

He emphasized government’s focus on productivity and economic stability.

“Our people must rise up and have something in their pockets. It is not about demanding N100,000 without productivity. We are looking at controlling inflation and ensuring a balanced economy”, he asserted.

According to him, despite efforts by the Tinubu’s administration to improve the economy, labour wants to destroy Nigeria with strikes.

Akume outlined several measures the government is taking to address current hardships and also cautioned labour not to make decision that would jeopardize the efforts of the Tinubu-led administration.

He said, “We took over in a very turbulent weather. Foreign reserves were zero, but there have been massive reforms carried out by the President. One of them, which appeared to be a little bit tough for people to understand, is the subsidy removal of fuel. People should stop shouting; they need to know the actual truth.”

The SGF emphasized that the current administration has taken swift actions in implementing palliatives to cushion the effects of these reforms.

“We are all aware of the N35,000 wage award for workers, which means a N30,000 minimum wage with N35,000 on top of that. Additionally, N100 billion for CNG fuel buses will help reduce transportation costs and food prices.”

Akume also highlighted the government’s efforts in supporting various sectors, including the allocation of N125 billion in conditional grants and financial inclusion for medium and small enterprises, and N150 billion in palliative loans to states to mitigate the impact of fuel subsidy removal.

“We are providing N200 billion to support the cultivation of hectares of land, which is even more now,” he added.

Addressing recent disruptions, Akume condemned the shutdown of the national grid, labeling it as a treasonable offence.

“Nowhere in the world has labour ever tampered with the national grid. It is treason! Treasonable felony is economic sabotage, you don’t do that. We are trying to rebuild the economy. The President is picking up, and they want to destroy it. Of what use is that to all of us? That is not the way”, he said.

He also reflected on the process of setting the minimum wage.

Akume explained, “In 2019, the minimum wage was legislated up to N30,000. It is an exclusive issue in the constitution, not on the concurrent list, but on the exclusive legislative list. That is why it is the Federal Government, working with organized private sector and labour, that recommends it to the President for the national assembly’s attention.

“It is not that we are not working. We are working, and that is why we implemented the N35,000 wage, which is more than the minimum wage. There are buses ready to be distributed, and soon, rice and other essentials will be available.”

Akume stressed the importance of collaboration between the church and the government in providing essential services such as education, health, and agriculture.

“The church must collaborate with the government in providing facilities for people whether it is in education, health, or agriculture. We don’t separate; we combine. There is a symbiotic relationship that can never be destroyed”, he said.