By Victor Ahiuma-Young
A PROFESSOR of Industrial Relations, Dafe Otobo, weekend in Ibadan, called on the nationâ€™s leaders to be transparent in the management of the countryâ€™s resources, stressing that the current economic situation in the country was worsened by lack of transparent management, which has continued to take its toll on employment, turnovers and profits of firms, among others.
Prof Otobo, who delivered a paper on â€œImpact of economic crisis on employmentâ€Â at a two-day seminar organised by Labour Writers Association of Nigeria, LAWAN, also said a degree of deregulation was needed in the downstream of the nationâ€™s petroleum industry, for the sector to perform well to benefit Nigerians.
He argued that a situation where only a few people controlled the importation of refined petroleum products was not good for the country and lamented the sector was dominated by highly inefficient publicly-owned companies.
According to him: â€œNo government should be allowed to insist on its own definition of â€˜human rightsâ€™ of democracy or reduce elections to declaring the well-connected victors rather than votes determining the results. With a consolidating democracy, the trade unions have to respond proactively and reactively to a more benevolent socio-political situation characterized by positive expectation from the citizenry.â€
The university don urged organised labour to redouble its activism, noting thatÂ labour had a â€œrole to play in encouraging both private and public sector employers to create more decent jobs and reduce unemployment, particularly impacting on official socio-economic policies that should take on board deregulation, privatization among others. The trouble here would be more in terms of general orientation and vision, than in formal education (not that this does not need to be beefed up) for, as I have pointed out, the bulk of those in government are not better educated than union leadersâ€.
The university don said the greatest challenge for the labour movement in changing socio-economic environment was the quality of union leadership and urged labour leaders to be focused and more committed toÂ the interest of workers and Nigerian masses.
On deregulation, he said: â€œOrganised labour should encourage some degree of deregulation in sectors of the economy denominated by highly inefficient publicly-owned companies especially in the oil and gas sector. It is not a question whether government officials or staff of the NNPC or workers in the refineries should be blame for the state of the refineries today.
All of them are in the public sector, and if they owned any of the refineries as persons or investors, they would not have run them down. Deregulation and privatization may be carried out in different degrees; no country has privatized all of its public utilities and service providers merely on account of market forces being the most efficient way of determining prices and of allocating resources.
It is not a question of whether government officials or staff of the NNPC or workers in the refineries should be blamed for the state of the refineries today. All of them are in the public sector, and if they owned any of the refineries as persons, or investors, they would not have run them aground.
Even companies in the private sector collapse daily. A situation where only a few people control the importation of refined petroleum products is not good for consumers or the country-hence a degree of deregulation would be beneficial.â€