Nigeria is broke, Minister of Labor and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige has acknowledged.
Addressing the media, yesterday, in Abuja, to celebrate the 2022 World Day Against Child Labour, the minister said that the Federal Government does not have money to fund capital projects next year, a development which might discomfit unemployment and poverty.
He also informed students of federal universities that negotiating separately with members of the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) would not address the problems facing tertiary education in the country.
Ngige explained: “I can tell you that Nigeria is broke. There is no money to fund capital projects next year. As you can see, the dollar that has been hovering around N500 and N600 is now above N700. The truth is that there is no money anywhere.
“The money that the FAAC (Federation Account Allocation Committee) has been distributing is money from taxes, customs and other revenue-generating agencies.
“The National Nigerian Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) no longer remits money to FAAC. So, the situation calls for patriotism from all Nigerians. The lack of money to fund capital projects would have implications on capacity to create jobs. If jobs are not created, poverty will increase in the country.”
Giving updates on the industrial crisis in the federal universities, the minister disclosed that negotiations are ongoing between ASUU and the Ministry of Education.
However, he warned that negotiating with ASUU without also negotiating with NASU, SSANU and NAAT would not lead to reopening of the universities.
He continued: “I have been Minister of Labor and Employment for seven years. Before, we negotiated with ASUU alone, which then suspended its strike. But NASU, SSANU and NAAT were on strike. The non-teaching unions locked the classrooms and lecture theaters. They also shut down electricity and water supply to the universities, which almost led to outbreaks in those campuses.
“So, what I am saying is that negotiation with ASUU will not lead to the reopening of the universities. All of them must be involved in the negotiations.”
MEANWHILE, the International Labor Organization (ILO) has implored employers of labor to honor the right of workers to social protection by regularly submitting their contributions to workers’ social protection, including health security, old age benefits, employment injury scheme and pension.
The global labour watchdog also urged the Federal Government to fashion out ways of ensuring that corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes of organisations aimed at reducing vulnerability of children, increasing funding for existing interventions, ensuring continuity in execution of policies relating to child labour.
Also, it requested support for schools to encourage child participation, especially children within the lawful working age.