By JOSEPHINE IGBINOVIA & UGOCHI AGBARAKWE
Her relentless efforts in ensuring the productivity and motivation of the labour force in Nigeria via her profession, journalism, was recently rewarded as she was appointed a member of the National Productivity Award Committee,Â a committee which has since 1990Â promoted workplace integrity and productivity through the award of the National Productivity Order of Merit – NPOM to deserving Nigerians on every National Productivity Day-NPD which is February 21.
In a chat with Vista Woman, Mrs. Funmi Komolafe bared her mind on the relevance of productivity, the NPOM and labour strike in Nigeria, among sundry issues.Â Her words:
THE National Productivity Merit Award began in 1990 when Gen. Ibrahim Babangida sought to promote excellence in service. February 21, was set aside as the National Productivity Day – NPD, for the recognition of excellence and appreciation of those who have displayed integrity in their field.
The National Productivity Merit Award Committee, the committee into which Iâ€™ve been appointed, calls for the nomination of productive Nigerians; those who have excelled and made a difference in their chosen fields either as professionals or people in the informal sector.
The committee screens nominees and forwards itsÂ report to the minister of labour , who then presents the list to the president, who in turn presents the award of National Productivity Order of Merit – NPOM, to the deserving nominees.
I was actually one of the first set of persons who received the NPOM award in 1991 when it had just began.
Commending productivity is very important because no nation can progress without an increase in productivity, i.e. economic-wise: you make effort, the effort brings results. Everyone is in one form of productivity action or the other, but what makes the difference is the creativity you put in alongside the time that you put in.
In screening nominees for the award, the committee looks out for the individualâ€™s and organizationâ€™s creativity, skill and efficiency.
The whole idea is simply to encourage those excelling in their fields to keep remaining at the top, tell those not yet there â€œsomeone is watching you and you can strive to be there by putting more effortâ€. According to the minister for labour, next yearâ€™s awardees are going to be part of Nigeriaâ€™s â€˜Golden Jubileeâ€™ anniversary.
Moreso, the NPD is marked at state and local government levels as well. Of all the beats Iâ€™ve covered as a journalist, I find the labour beat the most interesting because it has to do with improving the welfare and lots of other people.
To the glory of God, lots of firms and individuals show appreciation to the publisher of Vanguard for being so labour friendly. The beat has been very instrumental, especially in helping people regain their jobs.Â I actually started covering Labour in 1985, and Owei Lakemfa who is now a columnist in the Vanguard, was my editor.
He set the pace and I followed his footsteps. We worked together in the case of the sacked NEPA men during the military era. We saw it as injustice, and kept writing and writing until they were called back. One of the beatâ€™s areas of focus which has been tough is retirees and their gratuity /pension, butÂ it gets better with the pension reforms because we have the resources to make the necessary changes.
In the case of a strike, Iâ€™ve always said that no-one enjoys going on strike; people are pushed to go on strike. However, I must state here clearly that a strike cannot go on indefinitely; it must have an objective. In any Labour dispute, the union leader should not give the workers the impression that all their demands would be met.
If a union leader says such, then he is being deceitful because negotiation is â€˜give and takeâ€™. If 60 percent of the objectives are met, then the union must call off the strike.
We need to review quite a number of our labour laws of which many are outdated. The problem is the National Assembly. When bills have been agreed upon by the stakeholders involved, what is there to debate again?
The bills on labour that were sent to the National Assembly for review were five but one was removed. That was the â€˜Law on Sexual Harassmentâ€™ bill which is actually a very important one, as it addresses the issue of sexual abuse meted on girls in our new generation banks.
These girls are subjected to â€˜corporate prostitutionâ€™ in the name of marketing! Sending young female graduates to get fifty billion naira is awkward! How do you expect them to get that kind of money? Banking such an amount of money with any bank is a decision that has to be taken by a group of stakeholders, so do you expect these girls to sleep with all of them for them to release the money to her bank?
This is one reason I have some respect for Cecilia Ibru, the former boss of Oceanic Bank.Â She was one of the people who kicked against sexual abuse of the female folk.
The abuse is very disturbing. These so-called employers even go as far as deciding when ladies working with them should get pregnant!
I began reporting as far back as 1984 after I finished my studies in Journalism. But I started journalism properÂ with the Vanguard Newspapers in 1985. I took a break from Vanguard in 1985 to join the Daily Times, but returned to Vanguard in 1988.
Iâ€™m currently an Assistant Editor, covering Labour, at the Vanguard.Â As part of my contribution to the committee, I hope to publicize the NPOM award so that deserving Nigerians can apply as they are assured that itâ€™s not about money and you donâ€™t have to lobby anybody for the award.
You just have to merit it. The award can be withdrawn if a recipient is found in a conduct negating its ideals, but so far, none has been withdrawnâ€™.