From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has said President Muhammadu Buhari did not break any law by reappointing Ahmed Idris as the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF).
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, said this while reacting to comments from different quarters, especially from the labour unions, over the refusal of Idris to vacate the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, despite the fact that he clocked the statutory retirement age of 60 years in November 2020.
President Buhari had reappointed him as the AGF in June 2019, for a second four-year term in the office. Ngige who addressed State House correspondents after a meeting with Buhari in the Presidential Villa on Friday, said that the president exercised his constitutional powers in retaining Idris in office after his clocking of 60 years.
He explained that Section 171 of the constitution empowers the president to exercise discretion in appointing persons into some extra-ministerial offices, adding that the same constitution spelt out the offices in the category, to which the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation fell.
During the meeting, he declared the strike by Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), illegal since discussions to sort out some of the contentious issues are ongoing.
He pleaded with the two unions to give the government three months to forward supplementary budget to the National Assembly to cover arrears of the minimum wage that have not been paid to them.
He recalled that the Joint Action Committee, JAC of SSANU and NASU had given the Federal Government till midnight of February 5 to address about seven points demand they made, saying if the government failed to address the issues, they would embark on indefinite strike.
According to him, the meeting with President Buhari was to discuss labour-related matters especially the threat by the University workers to embark on strike. He said that the government had “apprehended” the strike by engaging in social dialogue with the unions, adding that it would be an illegal if they should go ahead with the planned strike.