The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has stated that Nigerians will not die but adapt to the economic hardships in the country.
In a statement issued on Sunday, he noted that economic hardships were not unique to Nigeria, but a global phenomenon caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other economic crises.
Ngige who received the Business Day “Excellence in Public Service Award” in Abuja noted that the labour sector across the world faces threats from multiple and overlapping economic crises, which has resulted in a clamour by workers for more wages. He said that workers’ demands for more pay were not limited to Nigeria.
He said, “The other day that I passed through Bailey, they said airport workers were on strike, only for four days. When I passed through London, the railway workers were on strike, only for three days. They are all demanding more pay.
“Workers’ demand for more pay is not peculiar to Nigeria but the problem everywhere in the world today as a result of global economic crunch, occasioned by COVID-19, the war in Ukraine and other things that make it look like everybody will die today.
“We will not die today. We only have to adjust both as individuals and as a country in order to survive the crunch.”
Ngige suggested that the International Labour Organization recognised “social dialogue” as the best methodology for addressing industrial issues. He said that discussions must be given a social face once they commence at a round table.
He lamented that people choose to disobey the law rather than do the right thing, and those who obey the law and insist on due process were condemned as “odd”.
In his words, “In Nigeria, the man who implements the law is a very wicked and stingy man. He is seen as a man who does not understand what the law says. It is even worse in government.”
He warned that if Nigeria must make progress, people should not be made to look odd because they obey the laws of the land.
Ngige expressed hope that Nigeria would make tremendous progress if Nigerians obey the laws and do the right things in all facets of their national life.
He thanked Business Day newspaper for finding him worthy of the award and promised to continue to serve the nation even after May 29, after which he would no longer invoke the “No Work, No Pay” principle against those who want to go on strike.
The publisher of Business Day, Frank Aigbogun, presented the award to Ngige and acknowledged his meritorious service to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He congratulated Ngige and his team in the ministry for their distinguished service, noting that they were an example to others.