BY VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
THE growing state of insecurity in Nigeria is a grave concern to patriotic citizens, organisations, and friends of the country. Well meaning individuals and groups are having sleepless nights in efforts to find lasting panacea to the insecurity in the country.
One of such groups is the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, which has in several interventions and comments demonstrated it’s desire for peace and security in Nigeria to grow the ailing economy.
No wonder the 24th edition of its national education conference, in Osogbo, Osun State, was focused on “The Role of Labour for Peace and Industrial Development of Nigeria”.
The conference attracted state actors, including the Governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, employers, academics, unionists among other stakeholders.
Giving reasons for the theme of the conference, President of NUTGTWN, Comrade Oladele Hunsu, said it was set to create the platform to discuss the critical challenge of peace and unity and the implications for the country’s development and the welfare of citizens.
According to him, “As a labour movement, we realize that we cannot just be preoccupied with our traditional duties that include collective bargaining, grievance and grievance handling, occupational health and safety, industrial relations among others without addressing the socio-political issues as witnessed in the present security crises which has further deepened the lingering crisis of development in our country.
Our colleagues from the once vibrant industrial city of Kano will bear witness to the real dangers of insecurity as there are several of our members who have lost their lives in recent times and several industries are forced to scale down operations as the once vibrant Kano Textile market has become a no go area for a lot of traders from other parts of the country.”
“In view of this, the need for labour to engage government at all levels with regards to unity and peace of Nigeria for sustainable development in critical areas of the economy has become very necessary. We reckon that our advocacy for industrial development and job creation will not yield any fruit in an atmosphere of insecurity and absence of peace hence our total support for Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC’s recent engagement on the issue of peace, unity and development.
There is no doubt that current crisis is a product of the perennial crisis of governance and the open disconnect between economical growth and peoples welfare. We must recognize that poverty weakens the people. Economic development not only raises income but it also raises the voice of citizens, their political participation and their ability to demand government accountability.”
Effects of unemployment, poverty
The only way to end the paradox of growth, joblessness and poverty is to reverse the trend towards a cargo economy. From notable contribution of about 40 per cent to GDP y the manufacturing sector in 70s and early80s, manufacturing contribution to GDP was a mere 4 per cent in 2010.
Manufacturing remains the key to quality employment and wages and indeed elevating the mass of our people out of poverty. It is in this context that we situate our advocacy for peace and industrial development. We therefore urge Federal Government and indeed all state governments to view the issue of security as an end in itself but a means to achieving stable and conducive environment for industrial production.
In this way urge each and every state to look at its area of comparative advantage and create right atmosphere for local and foreign investment and create jobs for the youth in their communities. The FG must create the enabling framework and incentive that will stimulate long term investment and reward investments that generate jobs.”
“As a nation, we cannot continue to agonise, the time for action is now. In this regard we commend the creative approach of the state of osun to addressing youth unemployment and supporting self-employed people through patronage.
We urge our amiable Governor to strengthen his administration focus in this area and support capacity building and skill upgrade for self employed groups. As citizens we demand a renewed commitment on the part of Governments at all levels for good governance and commitment to peoples’ welfare. We are prepared to fight for this and mobilize all strata of our society to continually engage governments at all levels as we cannot imagine an alternative to a safe, peaceful and prosperous nation
Poor management of resources
Speaking, Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, said Nigerians would remain poor despite the huge income from crude oil as long as the leaders failed to properly utilize the income to create jobs.
He said “Our nation is very poor today despite the huge income made from crude oil, this is contrary to the widely claim that Nigeria is very rich. If revenue derive from crude oil is not properly utilize to engage people in productive activities, then the country will continue to remain till eternity.”
“The average income in Nigeria today is less than N7,000 monthly. It is even less than what an average one day old baby can live on. This situation is very pathetic. If we must get out of this mess, Nigeria must invest in infrastructure, power, communication; education with proceeds from crude oil failure to do this the country will continue to be miserable.”
Conference papers -
Among papers presented at the conference included “From Poverty to Prosperity: The Role of Labour”, by Femi Aborisade, Labour consultant and Attorney-at-Law; ”The role of Labour for Peace and Industrial development in Nigeria”, by Gbega Komolafe, General Secretary, Federation of Informal Workers Organisations of Nigeria, FIWON, “ Labour and Security Challenges in Nigeria” by Etannibi E.O. Alemuka.; Industrial Peace: Pre-requisite for Economic Development”, by J.P Olanrewaju, Executive Secretary Nigerian Textile, Garment and Tailoring Employers Association, NTGTEA; Centenary of Trade union in Nigeria: The Journey So Far”, by Funmi Adewunmi, Professor of Industrial Relations, College of Management and Social Sciences, Osun State University, Okuku Campus; “ Organisation and Changing Structure of the Global Economy: The Imperative of Informal Sector Organising”; by Comrade David Ajetunmobi, National, General Secretary, Nigeria Automobile Technicians Association, NATA, Employer/Employee Responsibility for Imp
roved Productivity in the Enterprises”, by Peter Aderogba, Nigerian Bag Manufacturing Co Plc, and “Employment, Job Creation and The Renewal of the Textile Industry in a Transition Year”, by Dr. Tajudeen Akanji