From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige has confirmed that Nigeria has completely run out of funds and may be unable to finance its capital projects come 2023, if it fails to remove fuel subsidy and reduce cost of government amongst other actions.
Ngige spoke at a press briefing to commemorate the 2022 World Day Against Child Labour, Thursday in Abuja.
According to him, “I can tell you that Nigeria is broke. There is no money to fund capital projects next year. As you can see, the dollar that has been hovering around N500 and N600 is now above N700. The truth is that there is no money anywhere. The money that the FAAC (Federation Account Allocation Committee) has been sharing is money from taxes, customs and other revenue-generating agencies.
“The National Nigerian Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) no longer remits money to FAAC. So, the situation calls for patriotism from all Nigerians. The lack of money to fund capital projects would have implication on capacity to create jobs. If jobs are not created, poverty will increase in the country.”
Commenting on the ongoing strike action in the university system, the Minister said negotiations were ongoing between Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Ministry of Education.
He however, warned that negotiating with ASUU without simultaneously doing so with the other university-based unions only linger the strike as it would not achieve quick resolution of the issues.
“I have been Minister of Labour and Employment for seven years. Before, we negotiated with ASUU alone, which then suspended its strike. But NASU, SSANU and NAAT were on strike. The non-teaching unions locked the classrooms and lecture theatres. They also shut down electricity and water supply to the universities, which almost led to outbreaks in those campuses.
“So, what I am saying is that negotiation with ASUU will not lead to the reopening of the universities. All of them must be involved in the negotiations,” he said.
The minister further noted that the Federal Government had invested billions in social protection to fight poverty in Nigeria. Although the Minister explained that the country cannot put in more money into social protection net to end child labour.
“Can we put in more money? For now, the answer is no. Can we retain the former amount that we are putting there, N500 billion? The answer is difficult because the earnings are not the same,” Ngige added.
Also speaking at the event, Director of International Labour Organisation (ILO) country office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Liaison Office for ECOWAS, Vanessa Phala, lamented that development plans and budgetary allocations for social protection has remained low in the nation despite numerous policies at national and state levels.