By Victor Ahiuma-Young
FEW days ago bank workers under the umbrella of the Senior Staff Association of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, ASSBIFI, gathered in the ancient city of Abeokuta, Ogun State, to review activities of the association for past years, the socio-economic and political environments in the country and to elect a new set of leaders to run the affairs of the Association for the next three years.
During the four-day conference, delegates did not only express concern that government and private sector employers through what they perceived as neo-liberalism policies, have been destroying local jobs, but also engaging in unfair labour practices.
Delegates in a communique at the end of the conference, noted with regret the increasing attitude of Governments and private companies managements’ attacks on workers’ rights through unlawful and unproceedural mass disengagement of staff, outsourcing, unreasonable target setting, corporate pimping, refusal to abide by the provisions of Collective Agreements just to mention a few.
They condemned the unfair treatment of University workers by the Eastern State Governments, shabby treatment of medical workers across the nation, dehumanization of factory workers and the reluctance of the Federal Government to promulgate the Minimum wage into law.
The delegates called on the workers to borrow a wandering leave from the stout resistance of these obnoxious policies in other countries like, the Latin America, South Africa, Europe and United States of America.
According to the communique: “Countries across the globe are suffering from the harsh effects of this policy which unleashed untold hardships, hunger, unemployment, death and diseases on millions.
The manifestations of this policy in Nigeria can be seen in the near total collapse of industries, collapse of the Textile industries and other manufacturing companies; reduction in expenditure on public social services; perennial increment in the prices of petroleum products; multiple taxation of the poor; mass dismissal of workers, aggravating the unemployment crisis; financial crisis affecting the banking sector; aviation sector liquidity crunch, privatization palaver in Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN after Government has spent between $10Billion – to – $15Billion, hard-earned public funds on electricity generation, and refusal by Government to sufficiently fund social services like education and health care.
The cosmetic attempts at bailing out troubled companies and the financial sector would not fundamentally address the problems of the economy until the economy is protected from adverse social consequences of the vicious exploitation and manipulations by the advanced industrial world.
The focus of the economy must be re-directed towards providing food security and adaptable home-made small scale enterprises that prioritise the needs of the working and toiling people. It is observed that despite the important roles of these sectors to the economy whereby Agriculture contributes 42% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Small Scale Enterprises is responsible for 70% of total formal employment; the sectors attract a paltry sum of 1 and 3 percent of bank lending respectively.
The Conference therefore is of the opinion that banks and other financial institutions have a big role to play in stimulating enough credit facilities to these strategic sectors so as to enhance their overall multiplier effects on the economy for the sustainable development of the nation and welfare of citizens.”
Continuing, the communique noted that the Association observed that “for the fundamentals of our economy to take-off smoothly and, in the process for the nation to re-discover itself, we must prioritise seventy five percent of the nation’s teeming population living in the rural areas; encourage Agriculture and actively promote Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.
This is the irreducible requirement for sustainable growth of any given society and a veritable tool to stop the rural-urban development drift and the vicious cycle of crippling poverty. It is observed that despite the important roles of these sectors to the economy whereby Agriculture contributes 42% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Small Scale Enterprises is responsible for 70% of total formal employment; the sectors attract a paltry sum of 1 and 3 percent of bank lending respectively.
The Conference therefore was of the opinion that banks and other financial institutions have a big role to play in stimulating enough credit facilities to these strategic sectors so as to enhance their overall multiplier effects on the economy for the sustainable development of the nation and welfare of citizens.”
Earlier in his valedictory speech, the outgone President of the Association, Comrade Adeshina Lasisi, had noted that ASSBIFI was disturbed that despite all opportunities for the country to redirect its balance of payment “and boost its macro-economic indices, the nation’s external reserve was being frittered away by profligate ruling elite.
According to him: “All the hitherto projections of NEEDS, NEPADS, MDGs and Vision 2010, now 2020 are fast collapsing like pack of cards. It is necessary to go back to the drawing table and proffer enduring solutions beyond regurgitating neoliberal economic pills that have not been successful in satisfying the best interest of the working and toiling people.
We are not unmindful of the failure of State Capitalism across the world and the array of collapsed State public corporations in these countries, which gave room for the promotion of neo-liberal policies of privatization, Iiberalisation, commercialisation, deregulation and such policy as Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP), but it is noteworthy that, such States as existed in most part of the Eastern world are controlled by the dynamics of capitalism and not by the working and toiling class.
The recent crisis of global economic meltdown and financial crash in the Western world is a clear indication of the failure of globalisation as the new ideology of the rich.”