Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, has countered Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki’s forecast that states and the Federal Governments may not be able to pay salaries beyond June 2023.
Obaseki, who spoke yesterday during the Workers’ Day celebration at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin, said the two tiers of government will no longer be able to pay salaries without the removal of petrol subsidy.
According to him, the other option would be for the Federal Government to print money.
Recall that the Federal Government had set a June 30 date to end the subsidy payment regime on petrol for which it voted N3 trillion in the 2023 Appropriation Act.
Obaseki urged workers to champion the cause for the removal of fuel subsidy.
Ngige, however, dismissed the governor’s warning as an ‘alarm’.
He also assured the workers that the Federal Government has the capacity to meet the proposed pay rise.
Ngige, who spoke on national television, said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had made adequate provision for the workers.
Besides, he said the incoming government of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has what it takes to follow through on the agreement.
The minister said: “Obaseki’s statement is not correct because payment of salaries and the increases we are talking about have been budgeted for.
“The doctors have completed their negotiation under the auspices of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and they have come to us and we have transmitted it to the authority concerned. We have done the same thing for the nurses and others in the health sector.
“We have done the same thing for lecturers who went on strike for eight months last year and other workers in the university system and the polytechnic. Already, N350 billion has been captured in the appropriation budget of 2023.”
On whether the government has enough money to pay salaries from June this year, the minister said: “I am neither the Central Bank governor nor am I the Minister of Finance. These two manage Nigeria’s economy.
“I don’t know where Governor Obaseki has his information from. I would advise him as a governor to face his state and not talk about the Federal Government.
“Let him face his state and ensure that the weight of the salary increase is not borne by the workers alone. I don’t know what he is talking about and I don’t live in Edo state.
“For me as Labour manager of the country, President Muhammadu Buhari has made adequate provision for payment of salaries.
“And I am sure that the incoming government of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will tow the same line. He is a finance man, who managed Lagos finances very well.
“When he was the governor of Lagos State, he even had extra for his workers in the judiciary. So, I have no fear that the incoming government will deliver.”