June 18, 2009

Employers’ body tasks govt on poverty

By Victor Ahiuma-Young
EMPLOYERS in the nation’s Chemical and Non-metallic products sector of the nation’s economy under the umbrella of Chemical and Non-Metallic Products Employers Federation (CAMPEF), recently held its 30th Annual General Meeting (AGM), in Lagos, to appraise the performance of the sector, the challenges facing it and the state of Nigeria’s economy generally and declared that there is not much to cheer.

Addressing members and guests, President of CAMPEF, President, Dr. Bamidele Makanjuola, decried the crushing poverty level in the country and noted that it appears that government does not appreciate the magnitude crisis facing the country as a nation especially the rising poverty and unemployment.

Dr. Makanjuola also faulted the re-branding of Nigeria project by the federal government, describing it is a waste of available scarce resource. He warned that the high poverty level in the country and youth unemployment is a threat to national stability.

According to him: “The political arena in Nigeria continues to remain in a pathetic state. Our politicians have refused to adopt the principle retaining the essentials and forgetting the non-essentials. It is amazing that in our dire situation, our government is currently diverting scarce resources to prosecute a branding project. This is coming shortly after the enormous resources spent to legitimize various governments (at Federal, State and Local levels) after the shoddy elections of 2007. These are certainly events that will bring development in the land or respect in the comity of nations.

We are wasting time when the rest of the world is rapidly moving ahead in all areas of human endeavour. Wasted time does not return. It is important for our leaders to appreciate that eradication of poverty in the country is of utmost importance. Poverty tends to defeat all possibilities and in addition it aggravates things that divide people The fallout from the grinding poverty is being manifested in numerous ways.”

“It is this that is making the Labour Unions restless. In spite of the global economic meltdown, the Organised Labour is agitating for, new national minimum wage. The intended deregulation of products pricing in the oil sector is frowned at because of the fear that it may lead to greater deprivation of Nigerians. The rise of unemployment is also another dagger of Damocles hanging over the nation.

It was Julius Nyerere that once said, “education is not a way of escape from poverty; it is a way of fighting poverty.” It is a shame that in spite of huge resource that go into the education of our youths, the system is yet to engage them due to poor management of our economy. Rising unemployment among youths is a security risk.

It has recently been identified that 70 – 80% of capital that could have been used in the development of developing countries (Nigeria inclusive) is dead and in addition over 70% of such economies are-run by the informal sector. This explains the current advocacy for standardization in policy implementation in Nigeria proper management of resources and properties.

We should put into proper use the embedded huge human and material resources in the country. When properly harnessed, these resources can be channeled towards infrastructure development with adequate sustainability. There is need for the private sector to become more proactive in the management of the affairs of this nation.

We can no longer seat on the fence and wait for politicians to decide the future of industries. If there is no wind, row. We need to articulate our vision for the real sector; and get the politicians (through lobbying) to promulgate progressive policies that will stimulates development.”