The Akwa Ibom State Government has expressed its readiness to pay the new national minimum wage of N30,000 recently approved by the Federal Government.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Charles Udoh, who disclosed this during in an interactive session with newsmen, explained that Governor Udom Emmanuel had in one of his several interactions with labour unions given the assurance that the state would pay the new wage.
“Now that Nigeria is ready, we will also set up machineries to ensure that our workers are not left out. Don’t forget that in times past, timely payment of salaries was not available until the present administration was birthed,” Udoh said in a statement. The commissioner noted that the state was far ahead of others in the timely payment of workers’ salaries, drawing attention to the fact that one of the states was recently reported as trying to negotiate with workers on the number of months they were being owed.
He also dismissed the speculations that the payment of the new minimum wage could lead to massive job losses as states may be forced to cut jobs in order to be able to pay the new salary.
He reiterated that the Emmanuel administration started with a five-point agenda, which had job creation, poverty alleviation and wealth creation as an integral part, and was also focused on people-oriented and sustainable development programmes.
These, he said, were aimed at making the people of the state less dependent on government for employment.
According to him, rather than take actions that would lead to job losses, the governor had put in place various programmes to create more jobs in the state.
He further stated that the industrialisation programme of the state government was aimed at creating more jobs, through direct and indirect employment, and also stimulating the state’s economic growth.
He said that the industrialisation drive of the governor had led to the establishment of over 13 new industries and the resuscitation of several others that had been moribund, each with a long list of value chain from direct to indirect employment that were impacting positively on socio-economic lives in the affected communities, in particular, and the state at large.
“There is also massive investment in infrastructure, including rehabilitation of hospitals across the state, free and compulsory education to indigenes and non-indigenes, as well as several other strategic programmes that are aimed at diversifying the economy and creating more jobs,” the state read in part.
Speaking further, the commissioner listed some of the achievements of the state government to include the over 350 workers that were engaged in the coconut plantation spread across three local government areas, with headquarters at Mkpat Enin; over 1, 700 kilometers of roads, cassava and cocoa farms and mills that employed hundreds of workers.