…Keeps mum on minimum wage

Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The National Economic Council (NEC), concerned with the declining standards in education delivery, is considering declaring a state of emergency in the basic sector anytime soon.

The NEC is headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and has all the 36 governors and some ministers as members.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the 14th NEC meeting, which held inside the Council Chamber of State House Presidential villa, Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State, said that the decision follows the presentation by the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, to the NEC on June 28, 2018, which dealt on National Education Policy, Prospects, Challenges and Way Forward.

In declaring the emergency, states are to commit at least 15 percent of their annual budgetary allocations to revamping education in their respective domains.

Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shuaibu who briefed State House Correspondents on some of the resolutions reached at the meeting, listed areas of focus to include out-of-school children, promoting adult literacy and special needs education, reviving Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

He said while they await the outcome of a comprehensive recommendation, they would also focus on strengthening basic education, prioritising teacher education, capacity building and professional development, ensuring quality and access in tertiary education, promoting ICT in education, boosting library services in education among others.

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He said, “NEC had initially set up an Ad-hoc Committee on the Revival of the Education Sector in Nigeria to review and submit recommendations. The committee submitted an interim report to the Council today.

“The Committee observed that a multi-frontal approach is required to tackle the various factors militating against the achievement of the nation’s educational objectives, In view of the multi-dimensional nature of the crisis in the education sector.

“The committee strongly recommends that; the FG, States and LGs collaborate to vigorously implement, and sustain action on the 10 pillars of the Ministerial Strategic Plan developed by the Federal Ministry of Education.

“All Governors are to declare a state of emergency in the education sectors of their respective states and demonstrate their commitment to revamping education.

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“FG and States are to allocate a minimum of 15 percent of their budgets to education in order to revolutionalise the sector”.

Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State, on his part, said the NEC backed the conditions set by the Federal Government for states to access the Paris club refund, insisting governors must justify the previous allocations to merit more.

He said there was no wisdom in owing workers’ salaries when the initial refunds was meant to address such challenges.

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“The federal government was right in placing those conditions, it is unnecessary when you are getting such huge amount of money and there are things of owing workers salary, that issue must be addressed and if a state does not meet that the federal government will be right to hold on to the funds until they get commitment of all states to meet this basic responsibility,” he stated.

Meanwhile NEC failed to discuss the issue of a new national minimum wage despite threat by Nigerian workers to embark in an indefinite strike.

Abubakar, in response to inquiries said “the issue of minimum wage was not discussed at NEC today”.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige had last week told reporters that while Labour Unions are asking for N30,000 per month, Federal Government proposed N24,000 and state governors proposed N20,000.

“Unfortunately that was not discussed at the National Economic Council meeting, secondly governors are part and parcel of the negotiation, the governors have not taken a decision either way because it’s a negotiating process and it’s still ongoing, we are represented by six governors in the committee, it’s a work in progress and am sure we will get to the promised land,” he stated.

Similarly, Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire alleged that terrorism in the North East was still militating against achieving a polio free certification by the global health community.

He however noted that the country has remained polio free in the past two years, a feat that was made possible through commitment by various stakeholders to stamp out the scourge.