The Federal Government says its decision to channel about 80 percent of 247 billion Naira so far released for the capital projects in the 2016 budget to the construction industry was informed by the strategic role of the sector in job creation and the reflation of the economy.
“As of today , the capital releases of the government stand at 247 billion out of which a larger chunk has gone to the construction industry in five ministries -Works and Housing with about 120 billion or there about. Transport- the construction angle of it, rail and others account for another large chunk. So in effect, 80 percent of 247 billion so far released has gone to the construction industry.
‘’The idea is that government wants to reflate the economy and put money in the hands of the people through these construction companies that have millions of Nigerians in their employ.” the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Nwabueze Ngige disclosed while receiving the leadership of Construction and Civil Engineering Senior Staff Association today in Abuja.
He urged the construction companies to reciprocate government gesture by swiftly mobilizing to site and recalling all workers earlier disengaged to forestall worsening unemployment index and further aggravate the fragile security situation in the country.
“For the little we have done, we want to see you people in action. Another chunk of money is going to be paid as the economy improves and things get better. The budget also has a special provision for settling outstanding debts and for the completion of on-going projects. Through this, government intends to take away our youths from idleness, fruitfully engage them, and avoid making them easy recruits for insurgents.”
On the abuse of the expatriate quota which the union highlighted as one of the bane of the sector, the Minister said the situation where expatriates take over positions meant for Nigerians, even as low as the menial, was unacceptable .
“I have already sent a letter to the Ministry of Interior. I want us to engage the Ministries that are in charge of infrastructures like Transport, Housing, Work and Agriculture so we can have session on job creation and how to protect Nigerians and their rightful quota on jobs. A situation where we have foreigners driving heavy duty and other menial jobs is unacceptable. These are not jobs captured in the immigration Act for the expatriates.”
On the allegation that Chinese companies operating in the country are the worst culprit, the Minister promised an urgent investigation into the matter.
“We will investigate and look at the statistics and if we discover that we have one thousand Chinese expatriates in the senior cadre against thirty Nigerians, as you said, it will also not be acceptable to Nigeria. We will visit the agreement signed and know what and what is in the there. As a matter of fact, I am in liaison with my counterpart in Works and Transport in particular, in fashioning the agreements with these expatriate companies so that we look at the labour and Employment aspect of it to ensure Nigerians are well protected” Ngige concluded .
Earlier, the National President of Construction and Civil Engineering Senior Staff Association, Comrade Isaac Egbugara who said the construction industry was groaning under huge debt, solicited the assistance of the Minister towards the release of owed funds, stressing the need for an urgent attention to avoid further job losses.
He raised alarm on the frightening level of the abuse of the experiment quota especially by Chinese construction companies, saying also that rampant casualisation in the sector is antithetical to fair labour practices and national growth.
Deputy Director (press)