The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige will next week meet with organised labour led by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to avert the impending shutdown of electricity generation and distribution companies as a result of the recent implementation of the Multi-Year Tariff Order.
Organised labour and their civil society allies are scheduled to embark on a nationwide protest and picketing of electricity generation and distribution companies from Monday, February 8 over the 45 per cent increase in electricity tariff was announced by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission.
The decision to embark on nationwide protests followed the organized labour’s inability to convince the federal government against increasing electricity tariff, which it argued will further impoverish Nigerians.
While the TUC described the increment as obnoxious and dictatorial, the NLC said it was unsustainable and unjustifiable.
However, following the Minister’s resolve to meet with the organized labour, it is unclear if the planned protest will go ahead or it would be shelved to allow for further discussions on the issue.
Speaking when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Labour and Employment on Friday, Mr. Ngige said that he has invited the leadership of congress to a conciliatory meeting with Electricity Distribution Companies next week to resolve the matter.
He told the committee while defending the Ministry’s 2016 budget that “we have gotten their letter and have invited them for discussions, including Electricity Distributions Companies and Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission”.
Ngige stated that the ministry is determined to tackle the challenges of unemployment, using well thought out programs such as the Graduate Teachers Conversion, Skills Acquisition Programs and Conditional Cash Transfer to mention.
He said: “The programs of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari are focused towards employment generation. To this end there is a change in our 2016 budget from what it used to be in the past.
“This year, we want to tackle unemployment and we will tackle it from all facets using programs such as graduate conversion scheme and vocational skills acquisition programme among others, to ensure that our young ones are empowered for self-sustenance”.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Employment, Labour and Productivity, Sen. Suleiman Nazif assured that the committee would take a holistic look at the proposed budget mindful of the critical responsibilities of the ministry in the fight against unemployment.
He said: “We will go back and study your budget proposal. You can be assured that Nigerians will be proud of the outcome. I want to state that with Ngige at the helm of affairs in the ministry, we are sure that there are better days ahead”.