We are not comfortable in Nigeria, Labour Minister begs America for assistance

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen Chris Ngige, on Tuesday, told the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, that Nigerians are not feeling comfortable, saying that “things are not very normal and well with us here.”

Ngige, who was asked for assistance from the United States when he received the US ambassador in his office,  said the American government felt that Nigerians were comfortable and therefore skipped Nigeria while offering lots of technical assistance to other African countries including Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Sudan.

Ngige also told the American envoy that with a population of nearly 200 million people, and the current GDP, Nigeria is not comfortable and things are not very normal and well with the people.

He said: “It is not something we can do alone, we have called on the Department of Labour of America to assist, we need technical assistance.

“We have noticed that Nigeria has been skipped, the USA offered a lot of technical assistance to Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Sudan but they left us. They feel we are comfortable but we are not comfortable. With a population of nearly 200 million. If you check our GDP, things are not very normal and well with us here.”

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The minister added: “We are still calling for that assistance, we are calling for the United States to assist the government of Nigeria in putting schools in those areas that child labour is endemic, clinics in those areas that are endemic, putting up even their own program of empowerment for people.”

Reeling out the efforts of the Nigerian government in many areas, Ngige said the government has put up laws that made it for compulsory for children to go to school.

“We have the Universal Basic Education Act, it makes it compulsory that children must go to school. We don’t want children of school age running around, we as a country have been trying out best.”

He pointed out that the economy has gone down, adding that Nigeria has made a mistake relying only on petroleum products.

He said: “We are trying to tackle poverty because poverty is one of the reasons children are not going to school, children are being sent to do menial works in the cocoa farms, the gold mining fields, in Zamfara State, Niger State, Edo, Ekiti, Abia and the rest of them.

“We don’t have enough resources to make ourselves comfortable with feeding, the next thing is to let the children work.

“Part of our social investment program of the Buhari administration is that we want to feed children in school, we have a school feeding program for the children, one meal every day, balanced diet meal. We have also made education free at that level so that we can attract them to be in school.”

In her remarks, the US Ambassador said the US and Nigeria have a lot of business together.

On the issue of visa ban on Nigeria, she said, “I think I need to clarify something for you here. The immigrant visa ban does not affect people who are currently resident in the United States. It does not cancel the status of anyone who is currently in the United States.

“What Secretary Pompey said was something that was meant to be temporary. And it is about problems with information sharing which are investigable, achievable and resolvable, we look forward to Nigeria being able to meet those information-sharing goals so that the decision can be reviewed,” she said.

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