The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has a cordial working relationship with labour unions in the country.
Mohammed, who stated this when he appeared at a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja on Tuesday, said that the cordial relationship was for the benefit of Nigerian workers.
The minister said that the Federal Government and the organized labour had been able to amicably address the recent stalemate arising from the implementation of a new minimum wage for workers.
“We appreciate the cooperation of labour, but we have also been a government that works with and works for labour as exemplified that even when workers have retired.
“For 15 good years, the defunct Nigerian Airways workers were not paid one penny – 6,000 of them.
“Many of them died of hunger and none of them received one penny.
“We inherited this and because we believe that government is a continuum, we set aside N45 billion to give them the arrears of their retirement benefits.
“But today, I read online the testimonies of some them; they never thought that a day would arise that a government will be this humane to pay.
“Not only that, there is PHCN, there is NITEL. So we are doing a lot for labour and that probably accounts for the relationship that has existed between labour and government.
“The beauty of it is that the government cannot hide and lie about the resources and the workers are aware how the crude is being imported.
“This government I can assure you is working not just with the labour, it is also working for the labour.’’
According to the minister, the government is grappling with the scarce resources at its disposal to provide infrastructure, security and stability in the country.
He explained that the drop in crude oil prices had affected the flow of revenue into government coffers, thereby making resources scarce.
“If you are selling crude for 100 dollars per barrel and exporting about 2.3 million barrels per day, what you can do with that money is not the same as another government that is unfortunate that by the time it came in, crude has gone down to as low as 28 dollars.
“And because of the disturbances everywhere, even production has gone down.
“As I speak today, we are exporting 400,000 less barrels of crude every day and that is almost 20 per cent of our total capacity of probably 2.3 million (barrels per day).
“So, it is a credit to this government that despite this reduction in output, which is due to no fault of government, it is able to continue with infrastructural projects, it is able to manage its social investment programme and continues to progress on its intervention in agriculture.’’