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Why I haven’t shown up for the Senate swearing-in ceremony – Lalong

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The Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Simon Lalong, has said industrial unrest would end in Nigeria if the Labour Ministry received adequate funding.……CONTINUE READING>>>

Lalong stated this on Friday in Abuja when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Labour to defend the ministry’s budget for 2024.

The ministry was given an envelope of N10bn as the budget for 2024 by the Budget Office of the Federation.

He said the ministry’s duties were principally to create jobs, promote productivity and address workers’ welfare, adding that the only way it could succeed was to have sufficient funds to work.

According to him, strikes and other industrial disputes will be a thing of the past once there is adequate funding to tackle all labour-related issues.

“If the ministry is well-funded, there will be no strikes in Nigeria. There were so many strikes ongoing during the budget preparation, and they mostly had to do with funding issues”, he said.

One of the parastatals under the ministry, the Michael Imodu National Institute for Labour Studies, has a budget of N1.4bn for 2024 operations.

The breakdown includes N785million for personnel cost, and N332m for overhead expenses.

Speaking before the committee, the Director-General of the institute, Mr Issa Aremu, informed senators that while the initial proposal by the institute was N2.6bn, it was cut to N1.4bn by the budget office.

Aremu, like Lalong, wondered how an institute charged with the responsibility of training 1,000 trainees in 2024, and another 1,350 in 2025, besides other core functions, could achieve much with N1.4bn.

He said, “This budget is very small, and it’s consistent with what the ministers have said. N2.6bn was our proposal, but this is what they are giving us, N1.4bn.

“It’s surprising that the parent ministry itself has a budget of N10bn, out of a national budget of N27.5tn. How can the ministry perform?

“The only way we can assist the President (Bola Tinubu) in its job creation agenda, is for us to be properly funded.”

Speaking at the session, a member of the committee and Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Sen. Mohammed Monguno (APC Borno State), called for a “fundamental reorientation in the budget office , especially in relation to the envelope system.”

He added, “For a ministry like labour, the budget office should have reflected on the priorities of the current administration and ought to have raised the budget.

“As a committee, we have the power of appropriation and ought to have raised the budget.

“As a committee, we have the power of appropriation and we shall look at the budget thoroughly with a view to increasing to a reasonable size.”

Meanwhile, Lalong in an interview with journalists explained that he had not resumed in the Senate because of the need to ensure adequate defence of the ministry’s 2024 budget.

When asked why he had yet to resume in the Senate, Lalong said, “We are still working on the Ministry’s 2024 budget. I will resume as soon as we have effectively defended it “.

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