BY VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
NIGERIA Labour Congress, NLC, yesterday in Abuja, challenged the Federal Government to translate the impressive economic growth released on Sunday by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to improved living conditions for Nigerians.
In a statement by its Acting President, Promise Adewusi, entitled Good GDP Without Sustainable and Viable Jobs: A Time Bomb, NLC insisted that economic growth without jobs and food on the table for Nigerians meant nothing.
The statement read in part: “As cheering as this news may be, we at the Nigeria Labour Congress are not completely swayed by the latest Gross Domestic Product, GDP, figure, nationalist as it seems.
“Nigeria being the biggest economy in Africa ought to make no news if vital national statistics such as population, natural resources, among others, were to form the requisite assumptions for assessment.
“More importantly, an improved GDP will only make meaning to us in labour if it translates into improved living conditions for the ordinary Nigerian, which is not the case at the moment. Living conditions in the past couple of years have been progressively nose-diving and pathetic.
“Similarly, economic growth without jobs and food on the table, means nothing in realty. The unemployment figures are frightening.
“We have found it necessary to warn, times without number, that the army of the unemployed youths constitutes a veritable army of the disparate, the desperate and the angry, and that government should urgently address the problem.
“So far nothing has illustrated this fear better than the recent immigration recruitment exercise tragedy. We, therefore, do not need any economist or diviner to tell us that life has improved, because it has not.”
‘The real indices’
NLC added that “a GDP could not be said to have significantly improved if our industries are virtually shut and operating environment increasingly hostile. Government should worry that the performance index of industries dropped from 46.08% to 25.81%, while service industry more than doubled to 50% from 23.03%.
“This certainly represents a significant change in the economy, a negative change that points to consumption to the exclusion of production.
“As we commend the government for achieving the feat of economic rebasing, we urge it to ensure this figure translates into improved living conditions, jobs, revival of industries and improvement of internal and national security.
“Those will be the measurable indices and indicators of an enlarging and progressive economy.”