Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal government has replied Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, who on Thursday, described the 2019 Appropriation Bill, as hopeless, tasking Nigerians not to expect much from it.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, told State House Correspondents after presenting a portrait of President Muhammadu Buhari in five native attires: Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Efik and one in suit, that the government tried the best it could to plan with the available resources.
When asked to react to the senate president’s comment, Mohammed said: “It is not the practice of the executive to be exchanging words with the legislative arm of government; they are independent, we are independent, but to the best of our knowledge, we presented a budget given the circumstances of our resources this year; we feel that is the best we can. It is left for the National Assembly to consider it.”
On the December 31 ultimatum by labour unions kicking against President Buhari setting up of “high powered technical committee” on the N30,000 minimum wage, Mohammed assured that consultation was ongoing to avert it.
Buhari had during the 2019 budget presentation said the committee would be set up to devise ways to ensure that its implementation did not lead to an increase in the level of borrowing.
But the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said that setting up a technical committee could not be a condition for passing the minimum wage report to the National Assembly.
According to Wabba, the organised labour could not guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the country if the wage report was not passed for implementation on or before December 31.
“We reject in its entirety, the plan to set up another `high-powered-technical committee’ on the minimum wage. It is diversionary and a delay tactics.
“The National Minimum Wage committee was both technical and all-encompassing in its compositions and plan to set up a technical committee is alien to the tripartite process.
“It is also alien to the International Labour Organisation’s conventions on national minimum wage setting mechanism,” he said.
But Mohammed said: “The Nigeria Labour Congress is a very patriotic union and I’m very confident that they will not do anything that will embarrass the government or do anything that is going to worsen the situation.
Continuous engagement I think is the key; we will continue to engage them and I think they do also fully understand what the challenges are. And both parties are determined to ensure that a common ground is arrived at which will be comfortable for all.”