By ABUBAKAR IBRAHIM,Abuja
Unemployment is a very big scourge, a very serious disease in Nigeria now and we need to fight it frontally, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has said.
He stated this while speaking with newsmen at the APC national secretariat on Wednesday in Abuja.
The Minister said that despite the economic down turn in the country his ministry will do everything possible to fulfill his party’s manifesto of job creation.
“I have gone to that ministry, had briefings from relevant officers and top management officers and I feel that Nigeria is at a cross roads,” he expressed.
Senator Ngige said that as a result of the urgent need to create jobs, he will not abandon the national assignment given to him as a minister to contest Anambra central senatorial election.
He explained that he would not contest the senatorial election for both personal and official reasons, adding that the task given to him by President Muhammadu Buhari, requires a Spartan like him to get the job done.
“I am not running because of official and personal reasons. The official reason being that I have an assignment given to me by Mr. President as minister of Labour and Employment. As a matter of fact, the job is 60 per cent more of employment generation than labour. Labour matters constitute only about 40 per cent which is about labour and Industrial relations, workers’ welfare and the rest of them all.
“The APC manifesto stipulates what we are going to do. We promised Nigerians that we were going to create jobs, we are going to create employment and unfortunately for us, the economy has taken a serious down turn so we need Spartans like me to keep our flag flying and bring out water from the rock and that is what exactly we are going to do.”
When asked whether he actually endorsed senator Uche Ekwenife, who just decamped to APC, the minister explained that as at the time Ekwunife came in she was the only person from the party that wanted to do the re-runs.
“If she is the only person, I have no objection but today I’m told that two other people have shown interest, the party would do the normal thing and the normal thing the party is to do is to run a primary, the question of baptizing of blessing now does not arise.”
On the chances of APC at the March election, Ngige said “we stand a very good chance, my political structure is there, the party has its own machinery. They’re interwoven and if I don’t want to overestimate, I will say that if you combine my structure with that of the party, I don’t have an Organisation as such but there are certain things that go for me in that senatorial district, the party, before the election starts, has a solid 40-45 per cent vote that she can say is her own based on our effect.
“APGA is not a push over in the state, it can boast of say 30 percent. PDP can boast of maybe 10-15 percent. Out of those 10-15 percent, Sen. Ekwunife has some because she has ran a federal constituency two times and won therefore she’s not a push over. If you do an additive of all these I mentioned, the chance of the party is bright and we will work hard in taking that seat because we want to show that the state is not an APGA state or a PDP state.
While responding to the court case instituted by the APGA candidate Victor Umeh against the candidate of both APC and PDP, Ngige advised the APGA candidate to rather go to the field rather than wasting his time going to court.
“It’s a fresh election and besides for us in APC we are on very safe ground because section 33 of the electoral act permits us to substitute a candidate who has either died or has withdrawn. The two elections I ran, I came in as a substitute candidate in those two elections. That section has always been there to make allowance for people who for circumstances beyond their control could not continue. The APGA candidate should better go to the field and ask for votes rather than wasting his time in court to stop the candidature of another person.”