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Salary arrears: Senate leadership, Dogara, Adeosun, Ngige, Wabba’s meeting ends in deadlock

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…Meeting to continue today

By Henry Umoru & Emma Ujah

ABUJA—NATIONAL Assembly leadership’s meeting with the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun; her Labour and Employment counterpart, Senator Chris Ngige and Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, President, Ayuba Wabba, to address the lingering problem of  workers’ huge salary arrears ended in deadlock yesterday, as the parties failed to reach a consensus on the matter.

Consequently, the meeting was adjourned to continue today.

However, , Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Ngige said the Federal Government had no money to pay the arrears for now, even as Wabba, who was also at the meeting, listed fresh challenges to the new minimum wage, stressing that they included the task of amending existing laws and budgetary provision.

It was gathered that Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, who presided over the meeting, were said to have urged the ministers and the stakeholders to discuss in a holistic manner, ways to arrive at what they described as sustainable solution to the problems.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, Ngige disclosed that the major obstacle was that government lacked sufficient funds to pay the arrears.

He said: “We are here to discuss issues relating to things that are meant for industrial harmony in the public sector. As you are aware, the labour federations have said the governors have not been treating them well.

Adeosun, Dogara, Ngige, Wabba

“One of the cardinal issues of the International Labour Organisation, ILO, is to give our workers decent jobs and we decided to discuss with them.

“It’s a tripartite negotiation. What we are doing here is tripartite; we have also involved the National Assembly.  We looked at the issues of salary arrears, promotion arrears, debt benefits, location expenses and transfer allowances which overtime have accumulated and had run into billions and this is what are owed to federal public servants and we started the meeting today to find a solution.’’

On his part, the NLC president, Wabba, said: “We have discussed issues bothering on arrears of allowances which have accumulated for some time and running into billions, which they have not paid.

“Also discussed is the issue of pension, particularly the issue of bonds and the fact that some of the contributions by workers have not been remitted for sometime. ”

Those are some of the issues we thought the National Assembly has led the process to bring all stakeholders on board and look at how these issues can be resolved in a win-win situation without allowing the industrial relation process to break up.”

FG raises committee on pension liabilities

Meanwhilee, the Federal Government has set up an inter-ministerial committee to review all its pension liabilities and come up with strategies to offset such liabilities.

Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, chairs the committee.

The minister, while inaugurating the committee, in Abuja , yesterday, said the committee would reconcile all pension liabilities of the Federal Government; make recommendations as to what portion of the liabilities can be funded through budgetary appropriations: and    suggest creative ways of funding the balance.

Mrs. Adeosun tasked members of the Committee to equally identify any pension assets that could be in suspense and ensure that such monies are used in offsetting the liabilities and set up a mechanism that will facilitate regular payment of pensions through budgetary allocations and other creative ways.

The Minister lamented the situation of pensioners who were not paid their entitlements and vowed that the Committee would ensure that it creates a mechanism through which pensioners would be paid their entitlements as and when due.

Members of the Committee include the Accountant-General of the Federation, the Executive Secretary, Pension Transitional Arrangement Department, Acting Director-General of the National Pension Commission and the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation.

The Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation are also represented on the Committee.

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