BY: Obioma C. Appolos
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has re-echoed its position that Nigeria urgently need to work out an alternative model of growing its economy, which it says must revolve around industrialization if it is serious about bringing the menace of unemployment and underemployment to the barest minimum.
NLC, the largest labour centre in Nigeria, also unequivocally said that ‘Nigeria has fallen off the perking order in industrialization and manufacturing despite being Africa’s largest economy and lags behind in Manufacturing Value Added (MVA), therefore must innovate and industrialize.
“The over dependence of our economy on crude oil revenue and the mismanagement of our vast oil wealth through corruption perpetrated by successive governments continue to expose us to severe shocks from price fluctuation in the international crude oil market.
“The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report for the third quota of 2018 indicates that the general number of persons unemployed in the country has increased by 3.3 million. The report further indicates that the combined rate of unemployment and under-employment rose from 40.0% in the 2017 third quarter to 43.3% in the third quarter of 2018.
We should be worried that the increased pool of graduates, skilled and unskilled youth in the unemployment market especially rural unemployment is a time bomb. Any attempt to sack workers under any guise as it happened in Kaduna State will complicate the situation.
“In 2016 we witnessed an eighty percent (80%) increase in the pump price of refined petroleum products. Our national currency, the Naira, also suffered massive devaluation of up to one hundred and twenty percent (120%) between 2016 and 2017. The resultant inflation has almost entirely wiped off the purchasing power of workers and citizens. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate in Nigeria soared to a record high of 23.01% in the third quarter of 2018.
“Industry is a key driver for sustainable jobs and national development. Unfortunately, Nigeria has fallen off the perking order in industrialization and manufacturing. Despite being Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria lags behind in Manufacturing Value Added (MVA). In order for Nigeria to meet the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, Nigeria must urgently innovate and industrialize! We must stop exporting raw cottons, crude oil, mineral resources only to be importing finished products. Nigeria must make what it consumes; else we will be consumed by the rest of the world.” Said NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba.
Wabba, who said this yesterday, 5 February, 2019 in Abuja at the 12th Delegates Conference of NLC attended by 700 delegates, where a new leadership that would pilot the affairs of the mother labour union in the country will emerge, went on commended the House of Representatives for passing into law the N30,000 National minimum wage bill, while he urged the Senate to do same.
“House of Representatives passed into law a new national minimum wage of N30,000. It is expected that upon the passage by the Senate, a conference of the two chambers of the National Assembly will harmonize the bill and send the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Act to Mr. President for signing into law. We appreciate and commend the House of Representative for the expedited action taken on the new national minimum wage bill.
“For millions of Nigerian workers, an increase in the minimum wage is urgently needed; in order to ensure a living wage that covers the cost of basic needs for a family.” He said.
On the issues of payment of salaries, pension and gratuity of workers in the states, the NLC President said; “We commend states that applied the bailout funds for the purpose they were meant for. These states include Jigawa, Plateau, Kebbi, Katsina, Yobe, Delta, Enugu, Sokoto, Lagos, Rivers, Cross River, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, Taraba among others.”
Criticizing other states for owing workers’ salaries and pension despite the bail out funds released by the federal government, he said ;”Government workers in some states are owed arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities despite the bailout, budget support and Paris Club Refund to states. Despite the money released by the Federal Government for states to offset salary liabilities, some states refused to clear their salary arrears.
“In the past four years, the NLC embarked on a number of industrial actions in states that are owing workers arrears of salaries. The NLC organized protest marches in Imo, Kogi, Nasarawa, Oyo, Osun, Ebonyi, Kaduna and Benue states to protest the poor working conditions of workers.
“The release of about N1.9 trillion in the form of bailout, budget support and Paris Club Refund assisted greatly in addressing the non-payment of salary, pensions and gratuity in many states especially worker-friendly State Governors. In some few instances, the funds were diverted and the situation has not been fully addressed. A report from the EFCC and ICPC give credence to this position.”